notifying neighbors in a coop apartment building(12 posts)
I think our bb problem is over (fingers crossed) but I am concerned that the managing agent for my coop has not notified other shareholders (my neighbors who own their apartments) that there is a bed bug issue in the building. We are not the first in our building to battle them; our upstairs neighbor battled (and won) 2 years ago.
At a minimum, I feel that my adjacent neighbors' apartments should be professionally inspected, but ideally, I feel there should be a letter sent to all shareholders advising them to inspect on their own. Coops are cooperative living situations and I feel a responsibility to ensure that my neighbors are at least informed. Apparently the managing agent does not want to start a panic (or put on record that there has been a bb issue in the building, which could cause problems for anyone trying to sell their apartments, which are likely not infested at all).
I should point out that we had a very mild infestation by bedbugger standards.
Maybe this is a question for the Ethicist in NY Times Mag?
Notification is the right thing to do in my view.
But even if you are unsure of the ethics, plain self-interest would also point you in the same direction: because a lot of people do not react to bites, and therefore end up battling infestations that have really settled in, and have a greater chance of spreading, and because everyone should be concerned about the value of their property.
Educating the managing agent, or trying to, would be my first move. After that, I might just start conversations in the elevator.
Nomo is right I'd say, and I'd like to say COOP--congrats!
Did any bed bugs come out in the first and the second dose of poisonings? If so how many --or--Were the only 10 or so you saw, on the old ruffled-duffle-fluff bed when you first dismatled it and when the PCO first came by?
And ... what about your stuff? Is it still bagged or 1/2 out of bags? What?
curious george--aka willow
I don't think I've been bitten since we got rid of the upholstered bed (in which 10 bugs were found) and the carpeting.... though I have had a few itchy spots which may or may not have been bites. I haven't seen any bugs or signs of bugs since then, and we've had 2 PCO sprayings. Stuff is still bagged, but I am planning on slowly un-bagging in the next week or so... very carefully...
re: neighbors being concerned about the value of their property, they would probably rather NOT have anything "on the record." I've informally informed all of my adjacent neighbors (and they've been really nice about it). But I remember when my upstairs neighbor informed me 2 years ago of their bb problem; I was nice and sympathetic but I did not even think for a moment that we were at risk.
Maybe you could make up fliers and indiscreetly put them under each apt. door. Or, you could mail everyone a flier (that's more expensive, but more discreet). You don't need to know the names for a mailing, just apt. #. Write line #1: To My Good Neighbor at Apt. #3D; then comes their address. After their address, write "important, please don't throw away!"
Yes, you're right--not only do the neighbors need to be informed, but they also need to be educated about the signs of bed bugs (besides the obvious bites), esp. since many do not react to bites. If they are not aware of the problem or the signs, the bugs can come right back to you or others who've eliminated them.
One idea is to contact the Ethicist. He did an article about bed bugs and might be willing to do another.
Another idea is the Real Estate section of the Times--do they have a Q and A section? This has got to be an even more common dilemma than the one the Ethicist already covered.
Do you have a coop board? This seems like something they should be dealing with, not just a Managing Agent. The key point is that property values will be preserved if people find and deal with the problem, but not if they are ignored and allowed to spread indefinitely. (I heard from one woman in a 40-unit co-op, the WHOLE building was infested. It happens.)
Finally, I know that PCOs often give talks to groups about bed bugs, and I know a few that do that. They might be able to give a presentation about recognizing the signs, for the other residents. Obviously, that would be after the managing agent comes out of denial.
I have thought about this issue alot, as I live in a coop. I do not have bedbugs, but saw an infested mattress in the basement (wrapped - sort of poorly -- with a sign on it). I started to tell people about it but they did not seem alarmed or particularly interested.
I did, however, think of something that would make them sit up and pay attention. There is a news item (google Fowler apartments bedbugs riverside drive) - I think it is about #3 that comes up with the search -- that says that this coop paid $200,000 to eradicate bedbugs from the building. If the shareholders knew that's what it will cost if this problem is not attended to in the early stages and taken seriously by everyone, maybe it will make them sit up and pay attention. People usually notice things when their pocketbook is being affected.
If the coop has to have expensive exterminations done or even vikaning the building, this would result in increased assessments -- possibly huge assessments.
Tell this to the board, maybe the board will send flyers out for you and do an outreach and education campaign.
Exactly--they need to be worried enough to be concerned.
A co-op should be an easier situation than a rental in the sense that owners should care about their property.
They need to know it's not a cleanliness issue, that it spreads, and how much it can cost EVERYONE.
Blueox, GMTA! I forwarded that very news article to management so that the article could be included in the letter he said he would send to shareholders.
I did mention the problem to a board member when it first started; I think I'll speak with him again, and maybe I will pitch the Times too (though I am a bit nervous about doing so under my own name as I do not want my neighbors to hate me!)
Thanks all for the thoughts.
i remember when this site first started this very same question was posed. there were alot of great responses and thoughts. maybe nbom could revisit that and quote some of those conversations in one place?. (if too much work of course id understand.)
nightshirt, you can find them and paste them here with a link. Sorry to pass the buck but I am quite busy today.
I fully support disclosure but I can see why people have been quiet about bedbug infestation in a co-op. If you have someone selling a unit, having known bedbugs in the co-op probably will have to be disclosed to the buyer by a realtor, and will lower the value of the property and might make it less sellable (though Myah Rudolph's unit was rented at a higher rate after her infestation. Thanks for the good sleuthing here)
Also, is it ever possible for adversarial members in a co-op to bring legal action against the person who they claim first had the bedbugs? Bedbug infestations are not covered by insurance and I could forsee this resulting in a case of some kind of legal action by an angry co-op member. There are people who will sue anyone about anything and find a way to do it.
I personally think that bedbugs have been much more common in Manhattan than reported because people in expensive co-ops don't want to report them and are not doing so. Say hypothetically having a history of bedbugs lowers the property value 10%. Many condos are over $1M. People will keep darn quiet if $100,000 is at stake.
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