PCO Verifies a bedbug but Management.....(5 posts)
Had a PCO come today. Keep the following in mind:
• I was told that I would be responsible for him coming (around $35.)
• There is a rider in the lease about residents being responsible for costs associated with bed bugs.
PCO verifies bedbug in a bag. Does an inspection of the place, finds nothing, says everything looks clean and there is no further evidence.
I follow up with management. Management person in the office says that there were no evident signs of bedbugs or extreme infestation. I said, "I HAVE A LIVE ONE IN A BAG." Still continued on the no evidence rant. I asked the professional who was standing right there and said, "What would the professional's recommendation be to do if you find a live bedbug in someone's place." He tells me that he was only hired to come inspect and provide a report. Management person says, yes, and I think that treatment is very expensive... like 2000? PCO says, no the heat treatment is $2500. She tells me the resident would be responsible for that, and will have to get back to me about her manager's decision on whether or not to treat.
I follow up and say, "Whatever her decision is, I would like a response by the end of today in writing please."
Went and called a tenant's rights lawyer. Can you believe that a PCO would be the responsibility of the resident when the resident is not making the decision to treat??
Would anyone like to chime in on this? This is nuts.
If you had not called a lawyer, I would advise seeking legal advice -- or at least contacting a local tenants' organization for advice-- because I have heard that sometimes riders of this kind
are not legal. (I am not a lawyer, obviously.)
It sounds like your lawyer confirmed for you that the rider was valid
in this case.
Why might tenants be held responsible? If you have bed bugs, the landlord's a perspective is that s/he rented you a bed bug-free dwelling and now it has bed bugs and s/he feels you have to fix that.
The problem with holding tenants responsible is that in practice, many won't report the situation because they don't want to pay or can't pay for treatment, and the problem is then passed on to other tenants who uphold their responsibilities according to the lease.
Anoter problem is that fault is notoriously difficult to determine in the case of bed bugs. The assumption is that the first person to report bed bugs brought them in, but in many cases this is not so.
The odd thing in this case is that you have a bed bug, and they're denying the need to treat it-- even though the cost would be on your shoulders according to the lawyer. That all seems a bit odd. Why wouldn't the landlord enforce treatment per the rider, assuming it is legal, if there's evidence?
I was told today that, "The choice is mine" on whether I want to treat the unit or not. I just read the lease again, and it looks like they are trying to make a differentiation between "infestation" and simply finding one bug... so they are not directly stating that just because I find one bug means that the apartment MUST be treated... but they ARE stating in the lease (which is the weird thing) that the resident is responsible for the cost of bedbug eradication if a neighboring apartment or my own dwelling becomes, "infested."
This has really put me between a rock and a hard place. I'm one of those residents that notifies and wants to nip a problem in the butt... however in this instance I now feel like this allows management to point fingers at me if the problem gets worse in the building.
I talked to a lawyer today who advised me to send a letter requesting that they pay for treating the unit pursuant to the law of habitability and civil code 1941 in California. The lawyer told me the problem will only get worse if nothing is done, and that it is illegal for them to have a clause in a lease that puts the responsibility of $$ on the tenant.
I'm so frustrated and lost on this... I'd rather let the issue simmer to see if it really was a "stray bedbug" but common sense tells me otherwise... and if something in this unit ever develops into an "infestation" or it goes into neighboring unit I feel like I could be in for some serious litigation to protect myself and fight for my basic tenant rights on pest control.
The key thing here was to find out what the law says about riders of this kind and your rights, and so I am glad you spoke to a lawyer.
I am confused: if your lawyer said the bed bug rider was illegal in your state and you could challenge it in this way, why wouldn't you do that?
Paying yourself is costly if the law says you don't have to.
Skipping treatment seems dangerous because as you said, it may get worse.
Wow, this is a "tangled web" indeed and there's no end in sight to these issues.
Some points to consider:
> At the end of the day, if the resident skips out/leaves who now owns the bed bugs?
> One attorney recently commented that the LL/PM did not have a bed bug remediation policy but a "get rid of the resident" policy.
> "Habitable" and "vermon free" are key concepts in these situations.
As NB suggests, perhaps you may be best served in seeking advice from a suitable counsel.
Hope this helps ! paul b.
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