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Recommended Vacancy Period after first Bedbug Treatment

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  1. DontLetThe

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon May 23 2011 15:20:46
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    Question: What is the optimal period of time one should wait after bedbugs are treated for the first time before moving all there belongings into a place?

    Scenario[b]: Our lease starts on Day 1. The landlord didn't have it cleaned as they promised so we didn't take the keys til they had. On Day 3 they tried to have it professionally cleaned, but bedbug infestation was discovered (6 weeks after anyone lived there, landlord saying "a potential renter tracked them in when they toured the place. On Day 4 Terminix confirmed infestation. On Day 5 we were notified. On Day 7 Terminix prepped the place (no furniture in there, just carpeting). Today, day 9 of our lease, the bedbugs are being treated for the first time (with dry ice and vacuuming). We're trying to terminate the lease saying the place was rented to us unihabitable. We just want to move somewhere else, and we need to move right away. The landlord says no, we owe her the full year lease. She says if we wait till day 15 of the lease to move in (6 days after the first treatment) it will be fine. Terminix is telling her that, too. We are so scared that 6 days are not enough, that the bedbugs will still be there, that we won't be able to have our stuff in there, that we won't be able to have people over, that our son's stuffed animals will get infested, that our furniture (some of which has sentimental value) will get infested.

    People involved: us, our two-year old son, our landlord

    Question: What is the optimal period of time one should wait after bedbugs are treated for the first time before moving all there belongings into a place?

  2. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon May 23 2011 15:32:26
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    After chemical treatment, it's recommended to stay out for the time that specific chemical label recommends (generally a few hours), then to actually use the home "as normal". You and your family are "bait" to attract surviving and newly born bugs over the poisons. (Sounds icky, but important. Remember, unlike fleas, ticks and mosquitoes BB are not known to transmit disease). A follow up treatment is generally recommended, to kill off newly hatched bugs (today's chemicals don't persist long and are not 100% effective against eggs). People report that CO2 snow can require several repeats.

    If you do move in, there's risk that eradication is not complete. In that case, until treatment is successful, your "goods" are at risk of infestation. If you need to move subsequently, you will need to make some hard decisions/take expensive steps to keep from taking your infestation to the next place.

    If you plan on moving in, I'm not an expert, but I'd minimize what I bring in and keep my things and furniture securely sealed until I'm convinced the infestation is eradicated (experts advise about 2 months with no signs) and that your building does not have a persistent problem. Perhaps an air or throw-away mattress. Passive monitors for occupied spaces, active ones for unoccupied.

    As I understand it, a visitor can come in and shed a couple of bugs, but for BB to thrive into an infestation, you need people in place over a period of weeks/months to feed them.

    Read these threads to get an idea of what people face when they find that their landlord has lied to them about an apartment's situation.
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/bed-bug-infestation-landlord-not-helping
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/no-treatment-so-should-i-throw-everything-out

    Please read our FAQ. It'll help you better understand the situation you are getting yourself into.

    Also, check (but do not post) your address against "bedbugregistry.com". Not every address is there and not every posting is true, but if there is one, it could give you some perspective about your building's history.

    Based on his attitude, this LL does not sound like someone I'd like to have a relationship with.

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night...
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  3. bbgirl

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon May 23 2011 18:11:48
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    i guess it depends on the laws in your area but I find it hard to believe that the courts would enforce a lease if a known bed bug infestation was discovered before you moved in. I would look into it further and perhaps consult a lawyer

  4. landlordlies

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Mon May 23 2011 18:59:55
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    Don't do it!!! Move in, that is. I am in a similar situation but we had already moved in before we discovered the building had bed bugs, and now all our stuff is potentially contaminated and we might have to dump everything if we move to a new place. We talked to a lawyer and were told that if we terminate our lease, without permission from the landlord, then it's possible that they can sue us for lost rent if they can't fill the unit (they would have to prove that they tried everything to fill the unit). However, we could counter that they didn't provide us with liveable conditions and that would probably hold up pretty well. In our case we would have to provide 60 days notice to vacate but since you never moved in you might not have to- check what the laws and your rights are in your area. You have to hope that the trouble they would have to go to in order to sue you would be less than the effort it would take them to find new tenants. The ideal situation is if they agree to let you out of the lease and sign something to that effect. This is what we are hoping for!

  5. DontLetThe

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 12:51:45
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    Can I get everyone's advice: if the PCO rep states that they would move in to a vacant house 1 day after the first treatment because the evidence of bedbug presence is minimal (just in 1 bedroom and the stairs), would you do it? If not, why not?

  6. so unsettling

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 13:14:28
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    I wouldn't move into it and I don't believe that any law anywhere could make any difference. The apartment is a different place than it was when you signed that lease. The LL telling you, that you must honor the lease, is like telling you that you have to rent a place wherein a contagious disease was discovered. Whatever the laws, you would win this one in a heartbeat.

    Also, it is unlikely that one treatment took care of it. Hardly ever does. I also doubt that a prospective tenant tracked them in. It sounds like the infestation was apparent, and they don't multiply that fast. Many of us who have had them for months can't find one dead or alive. Everyone in your case is full of it, landlord and PCO both. Don't move into that place.

    I hope that someday landlords and courts and government realize how serious this thing is for tenants. Good luck to you.

  7. rAVENSFAN99

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 13:47:31
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    I agree. Don't move in at all!
    Even if they "only" found bugs in one or two places, there could be eggs anywhere. Treatment doesn't eradicate the eggs, and I believe it takes up to 10 days for them to hatch.

    Please, please, please, do not subject yourself to this. No apartment is worth it.

  8. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 14:35:14
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    I am not a lawyer. Even if I were, I cannot advise you on your legal rights because laws about vermin, habitability, health, and renters' rights vary not only from state to state but city to city.

    That said, here's what you need to know about bed bugs:

    Bed bugs are a pest of exposure. If you're exposed to them, there is a chance that they will get into your stuff and be carted back to your home. For example, I'm pretty sure I picked my infestation up at a hotel I stayed at. In retrospect, when I found something that I thought was a tick in my bed there, it was a bed bug. Neither of my roommates in that hotel room got bed bug infestations. We were all exposed. I got them; they didn't. Being exposed isn't a sure thing, but those of us who've been through infestations know how hard and expensive it can be to get rid of them, which is likely why so many people here are encouraging you NOT to move in.

    Bed bugs are a particularly difficult pest to eradicate. Bed bugs do not harbor on the food source. In fact, they hide for most of the day and night, coming out pretty much only to feed or move to a new harborage.

    Since they don't groom themselves the way that, say, roaches do, pesticides that rely on a pest walking through it and then consuming it when they groom don't work on them. Since they eat only mammalian blood, they cannot be baited the way that ants are. In fact, their physiology--along with their behavior--makes them very hard to treat with the chemical pesticides we have available today. There is only one chemical pesticides that kills some of their eggs; it does not have a 100% kill rate. As a result, most treatment plans are integrated pest management--they use a combination of methods to kill an infestation: heat, dusts that degrade the insects' exoskeletons, and pesticides.

    The problem is that the physiology and behavior of the bugs--combined with the means we have to kill bed bugs--usually requires multiple chemical/dust/steam treatments because you kill all the bugs and eggs you can get to, but you can't get to them all. (An adult unfed bed bug is skinny enough to fit between a baseboard and a wall. Now imagine how small the eggs are. First stage nymphs are not only also quite small, but unless they've fed recently, they're translucent, so hard to spot.) As a result, you basically wait a few weeks until the eggs hatch and then you treat again to try to wipe out the next generation.

    In addition, in order to maximize the effectiveness of the pesticides, you (or another human) needs to continue sleeping in the room where the bugs are to be a source of food. Yep. That's right. During treatment, in order for it to be most effective, you have to continue to let yourself get fed on by vermin. (Once a bed bug has fed, its abdomen becomes distended, increasing the chances that it'll come into contact with the residual pesticides. )

    There are some treatments that can treat a whole structure--like Vikane and heat (where a company brings in heaters and ducts and quickly raises the temperature inside a structure up to about 140 degrees F and hold that temp there for multiple hours)--in one shot, but they are expensive and not widely available everywhere. For example, Vikane is not available at all in Canada. Heat treatment in the US is more common in cities with established drywood termite problems.

    In multi-unit buildings, bed bugs can migrate from unit to unit. This is especially true if the landlord asks tenants to pay for treatment costs or if the people being bitten do not react to bites. Some percentage of the population seems not to have an allergic response. As a result, stealthy bed bugs can hide in someone's home and bite the person for weeks or months before the population gets big enough for a non-reactor to notice the bugs.

    Once you move into an infested apartment, moving out before the infestation is fixed will mean a lot of expense on your part if you want to treat your stuff. Since bed bugs can harbor and lay eggs in all kinds of difficult to detect places, once your stuff moves into an infested apartment, if your landlord isn't treating the problem effectively, it will be nearly impossible to move without taking bugs and/or eggs with you without great expense to you.

    You could ditch all the furniture you own, wash and dry all your clothes on hot (or Packtite those that don't need washing), and Packtite other items like books and papers (so long as they aren't receipts on thermal paper.)

    But in ditching that much stuff, you'd likely occur a pretty substantial cost.

    You could also have your stuff treated in a moving truck. In some cities, pest control companies will treat the contents of a moving truck with Vikane or heat. But it's costly.

    Success in the fight against bed bugs is often determined, at least in part, based on how well-informed and how willing to be smart and effective, the landlord is when you're talking about multi-unit buildings.

    If there's anything about this story that would steer me toward recommending against moving into this apartment, it's the following points:

    1. From your description, it sounds likely that either this landlord doesn't have a firm grasp on how to effectively fight bed bugs or the landlord is simply concerned about getting a renter into the unit to make money, regardless of whether the bed bug problem is solved. I suppose it's possible that the landlord is just extraordinarily bad at communicating, and the apartment is bug free but the landlord doesn't know how to say that.

    Personally, I would be very hesitant to move into a place with a landlord who was reacting like that. If you're in a city with any chance of possible bed bug infestations in the future, is this a landlord who will effectively handle that problem, even if the problem is currently solved in this building?

    I'm particularly concerned about what seems like emotional manipulation--no, you owe me the full year lease.

    2. Before you do anything concerning breaking a lease, consult with your local tenants' rights groups. While everyone here is sympathetic to not wanting to move into an apartment that might not be habitable because of bed bugs, what you can and can't do under the law varies widely, and in order to come out okay in court or any legal proceedings, the onus is on your to behave in accordance with the law even if the landlord is being unscrupulous.

    3. If I had to guess, it's entirely possible that the landlord didn't know about the bed bugs until you found them. (It's also possible that the landlord knew and just wants to rent the unit. We have no way of knowing that.)

    I'm liking the landlord less and less though for suggesting that a renter tracked the bugs in while viewing the place. That sets off many, many red flags in my mind. While that's possible, statistically, it's unlikely in practice.

    In other words:

    I'll second what cilecto said. I've got a really bad feeling about this landlord.

    I'm not a lawyer, and can't give you legal advice, but I can (and am enthusiastically doing so) recommend that you find out what your legal rights are and get out of the lease legally if you can.

    You do not want to get into a building where the management does not or cannot effectively handle a bed bug infestation if you can possibly avoid doing so.

  9. jrbtnyc

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 14:36:14
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    Being neither a lawyer nor a bed bug professional, I can concur with other posters here: (a) don't move in and (b) the landlord cannot enforce a lease you signed in good faith not knowing about a major problem the landlord knew about and didn't disclose to you.

    During the discussions leading up to your signing the lease, the landlord didn't say anything about the presence of bugs supposedly tracked in by the prior prospect, is that correct? So you did not have a chance to include that information in your decision process, is that correct? And then, from the way the landlord subsequently spoke about it, evidently the landlord knew about that already during your discussions but chose not to say anything about it, is that correct?

    One legal term applicable here is: "implied warrant of habitability". You're expecting to rent a comfortable, viable place to live in and the landlord is agreeing to take your money to provide that and then is not providing that. I think the landlord's own lawyer will advise them they don't have a leg to stand on, so then the landlord in my view will fully understand he or she has nothing to gain by initiating a court action.

  10. healthimpacted

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 15:08:49
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    If it were me, I would not move in. I've spent almost a year's worth of rent trying to get rid of bed bugs in rented townhouse. And that doesn't even account for the mental anguish, torture, isolation, and health issues.

    I'm not sure how a vacant unit should be treated, but dry ice and vacuuming seem like an ineffective approach.

  11. PANewBugger

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue May 24 2011 15:33:11
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    I, like others here, would not move in. The mental and financial costs of bed bugs are unbelievable. We spent thousands and thousands of dollars in treatments, encasements, monitoring devices, replacing furniture, etc. My husband and I are going to start therapy due to the anxiety, depression and never ending fear. No apartment is worth it.


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