Struggle with BBs and unresponsive housemate(4 posts)
I live in a duplex home with two others, a guy and a girl. We first got infested about 2 months ago, and we are pretty sure they came home with my housemate from a trip to D.C. My first warning came when I found out she'd had bugs in her room for days, but didn't tell anyone because she didn't think they were bed bugs. Well, of course, they WERE bed bugs, and all three of us ended up getting bites and finding live bugs in our rooms. I also found a bite on my kitten, which was very upsetting.
We were freaked out, and made a plan to self treat. We agreed on the usual stuff: laundering, bed/pillow encasement, spraying with rubbing alcohol, D-Earth, etc. My male housemate and I went to town pretty vigorously, and we both ended up purging many of our possessions to have less clutter. I took responsibility for my own things and the bathroom/living room as well.
My third roommate didn't seem to take the process very seriously. I offered her a ride to the laundromat, as she doesn't drive, and was shocked to find that she only laundered her comforter and a basket of clothes. She didn't even wash her sheets. Her bed is a mattress that sits directly on the floor, and I know she hasn't encased it. She also failed to caulk the baseboards around the room as I'd asked (it's a 1920s-era home, so there are many cracks everywhere).
After 3 weeks seemingly bug-free, they have returned. I found this site, and realize now that we need to contact a PCO. They are scheduled to do an inspection this weekend. Honestly, I'm worried that my roommate won't cooperate with instructions or help with the cost of extermination. I've no idea how much it will cost, but I know that I can't pay it on my own. I've already paid tons for encasements, laundry, 20 lbs of D-Earth, and new pillows. My landlord is of absolutely no help, they said it's on me and if bugs spread to the unit next door, I'll have to pay for that too. I feel like I have no legal recourse because neither of my roommates are on the lease. I stupidly allowed a former roommate to sublet her portion of the house to the current two, and they never followed through with getting themselves put on the lease, despite many weeks of pleading and pestering from me. I feel like this is coming back to bite me in the ass (literally) and I am helpless. I don't have ANY extra money, especially $1000 or so to treat our house. And, even if I can get the money, my housemate doesn't seem interested at all in being diligent with treatment instructions.
Is there something I can do? Is there some way I can stress the importance of this procedure to my housemates? This whole mess is stressing me out, and I don't think I can take another infestation. Does anyone have any good advice for me?
So sorry to hear your predicament. I don't know if I have any good advice, at least that a fellow BB sufferer out here is reading your post and empathizing (K9s are sniffing through our apartment complex as we speak.) It sounds like you're doing everything you can bedbug-wise, short of doing everything for her. Unfortunately, there's no FAQ list for uncooperative roommates.
As far as legal recourse regarding your landlord, I would check into your local rental laws. Most cities have laws that require landlords to provide "habitable environments," or something similar. It might be a stretch, but perhaps this may qualify. There may also be some free renters assistance agencies to assist with uncooperative landlords, or at least provide some information as to what your rights are. Also, check your lease to see what the landlord's (and your) explicit responsibilities are.
I would definitely try to reason with your roommate first. Some education is always good-let her know how quickly they can spread, etc etc. Tell her specific things to do (starting with washing her sheets! Man, yuck!) To give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she just doesn't realize the gravity of the situation. I'm a fan of reason, but unfortunately it doesn't work on everyone. Not ideal, but if reason isn't enough, perhaps some disgusting pictures as to what's to come if the problem isn't taken care of might motivate her. (Pictures of gross bedbugs and bedbug bites. Just google bedbugs and there's a million disgusting pictures in images. You've probably seen plenty already.) As a last resort- since she's not on the lease, you probably have legal grounds to get her out of there (though, she'd probably take bedbugs with her :|). As a last last resort, clean all your s**t like you have been, and high-tail it. I hope it doesn't come to either of those.
Best of luck to you!
You really need to contact an organization that specializes in tenants' rights for your town. The laws are different everywhere. You need a lawyer (or someone who knows the laws very well) to tell you the options for dealing with your landlord and your roommates who aren't on the lease. Google the name of your town and "tenants' rights" -- also look into organizations that advocate for low income people, organizations that offer legal advice to low income people. The office of your local representatives (city councilman, etc) also might be able to suggest organizations. Don't pay for everything until you find out the legal obligations of your landlord, your former roommate, and your current roommates.
Thanks to those who responded for your good advice. It's such a relief to be able to speak with people who understand how stressful this situation is and how powerless one can feel.
Fortunately, I'm feeling a lot better and hopeful today. I had a reputable local PCO come do an inspection this AM and made sure the problem housemate was home. Checked my room, stripped the bed, didn't see anything. Went into housemate's room and... UGH. The PCO was visibly disturbed by the level of infestation. There are live bed bugs crawling on the walls up by the ceiling and "nests" of eggs in the corners. I saw dead shells and fecal smears all over her mattress, from across the room. Not to mention piles of clothes and fabric and dirty dishes all over the floor...
Now, I completely understand that this isn't a problem of cleanliness or sanitation. I get that. But this situation has shown me that if you are a person inclined to messiness, and bed bugs do come into the house, you are going to have to work twice as hard to get them out. And from what I can see, my housemate is both messy AND lazy, and has definitely not taken the problem seriously. Nor has she thought about how her lack of effort is affecting me, our other housemate, or my poor cat.
Did I say I was hopeful?? Well, I am. The quote for the first and follow-up visits was very reasonable, and I informed my housemates that we will be sharing the cost equally. The prep work is very extensive, and we will be sharing that work equally as well. Hopefully the disgusted face of the PCO as he examined her room made an impression on my roommate that she won't soon forget. And in 4 months' time, I will be moving away from this apartment and into a place with NO ROOMMATES OR BED BUGS!
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