The bed bug droppings hit the fan

by nobugsonme on November 3, 2006 · 13 comments

in bed bugs, celebrities with bed bugs, england, housing laws, new york, united kingdom, usa

Sorry to get graphic on you folks, but the news round-up for today is really something.

The San Jose Mercury-News reports that Maya Rudolph of Saturday Night Live is suing because she moved into a $13,500 a month SOHO loft rental that was infested with bed bugs.

The couple had signed a $13,500-a-month lease, paying two months rent and a month’s security as well as a month’s rent as a broker’s commission, say papers filed Wednesday in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court.

Almost as bad as the bedbugs, court papers say, was that the couple were unable to flee the infestation conveniently because for at least six of their first 11 days in the building the elevator was out of order.

After Rudolph and Anderson complained, an exterminator showed up on Oct. 17 and advised them to leave, at least for a few weeks, for the sake of their year-old baby. They left and never returned, said their lawyer Kenneth J. Glassman.

The lawsuit names Halstead Property LLC, the broker, and Francis Feeney, the owner of the apartment, as defendants. It seeks a total of $450,500 in compensatory and punitive damages, repayment of rent and broker’s fees and legal fees.

According to the Mercury-News, Halstead had no comment, and Feeney has an unlisted number.

My response: I firmly believe there is no bad bed bug news. As much as I hate to hear that anyone has bed bugs, I am pleased to see the news being reported about bedbugs among high-profile celebs such as Rudolph and partner (Boogie Nights director Paul Anderson), because normally people do not talk about having bed bugs. Seeing celebrities have the problem makes it seem less shameful. Of course, this would never make the news if there were no lawsuit. For every court case, I am sure there are thousands of quiet sufferers–famous ones, as well as us normal folks. People need to know that this is a widespread problem, affecting rich and poor alike.
The only thing that gets me mad is when inaccurate information is disseminated by the press, which it wasn’t here. Small annoyance: this is in the Gossip section of the paper (as was, you recall, the piece on Ralph Lauren’s design offices being infested in September). Given the enormous bed bug epidemic, and the press on it, why are celebrity bed bug cases nothing but “gossip”?

Also: a brief piece from New Vision, a Ugandan news site reports that recent DDT spraying of mosquitoes on indoor walls has had a positive effect on bedbugs:

The district director of health services, Dr. Patrick Tusiime, said the recent indoor residual spraying against mosquitoes had also helped to eradicate fleas, bedbugs and cockroaches.

He said last Saturday that people were having sound sleep due to the extermination of the blood sucking vermins.

I have no knowledge of the reliability of the source, or the site, but it is notable, nonetheless.

Also: file this under “No! No! No!” but this family in Eastbourne, England is thinking of moving into their car to escape their infested home. People, people, how many times do we have to say this? Bed bugs are not in your bed, they’re near where you spend lots of time. You can sleep in the car, sit in a barn, or prop yourself in front of a computer in your office at work, and you can have bed bugs there. If you change where you sleep, you can bet some of them hitched a ride.

Unfortunately for this family, who are tenants of the Eastbourne Council (local government), the council is not required to treat its tenants’ homes for bed bugs; many are on limited incomes, and paying for pest control is a hardship. This is only going to mean some people do not treat it properly and spread the problem further.

”We’ve got a private firm in and although we can’t afford it, we had to do something because we’re at the end of our tether.
”They’ve come around twice and treated the whole of the upstairs but neither treatment has touched them and we are still over-run.
”It has now become so bad that we are seriously considering leaving the house and sleeping in our car.”
Bed bugs are not on a list of pests and infestations which the borough council are legally obliged to remove for free.
Mr Carter added, ”I don’t think that it is right to deny us help when we have five children between four and 11 years old.
”We have already had to get rid of all our bedroom furniture as it was riddled with the bugs.
”We can’t even get new furniture until the house is totally clear and even then we can’t afford it at present.”
An Eastbourne Borough Council spokesperson said, “Unfortunately, bed bugs are not one of the pests which we are legally obliged to deal with.
“We would deal with an infestations of rats, mice, wasps and fleas for a fee and offer a wide range of advice on other pests.
“Further details can be found on our website or by calling the environmental health department.”


Shame on Eastbourne Council! They will eventually find out that this pest spreads quickly, especially when tenants throw away furniture, as these folks did. Maybe when every unit becomes uninhabitable, they’ll reconsider.

Parakeets, the fourth official blogger in the team here at Bedbugger, blogging from heavilty-infested Massachusetts (joining me in NYC, Jessinchicago in, well, Chicago, and Deblynn in Long Island).

1 shameless furniture marketter November 3, 2006 at 5:31 am

Is hter any solution for a bug infested bed. Does one just have to change the mattress or can they be removed in any way?

2 deblynn November 3, 2006 at 9:36 am

This is what we have been waiting for…NOW maybe some legislation will come forth making it against the law to rent bb infested apts…The name of my Broadway play is going to be “Its Good to Be a Ugandan ” !!! They got rid of Idi Iman..and now they are successfully treating Bedbugs !!! Real Estate is going to go way up in price there !! Let the lawsuits begin !!! I have been saying all along that we will no longer be told to “eat cake” by our almighty officials ,when they accept the scope of what this bug is going to do to the New York economy…Deb

3 nobugsonme November 4, 2006 at 3:04 am

Hi Amish Oak Furniture–
You may be able to treat an infested bed. The most important thing is to cover it with a bedbug-proof cover (vinyl or cloth but made to keep bed bugs out or in). If they are kept inside the cover (guard against tears) you can still use the mattress.
However, keep in mind you may also have bed bugs in the bed frame (especially, I am afraid, a lovely wooden frame as you doubtless have), the baseboards, floor, electrical sockets, closets, light fixtures, dressers and so on.
Seek the help of a pest control professional, read our FAQs about beds (click the FAQs link at the top of the page) to learn more about treatment.

Deb– I fear there may be a lot of lawsuits in the near future, and these may in fact help hasten some kind of change. I was on a site for landlords yesterday where they were arguing that they should not have to pay for extermination. I have to say I see why they feel that way–they are not all rich, after all. And it is so expensive and time consuming and expensive. But of course tenants definitely can’t afford it, and which tenants would be forced to pay? The ones who notice the bugs because they’re allergic? The ones who brought them in (which is so hard to know?) In many cases those who bring them in aren’t sensitive and never know they have them.

4 deblynn November 4, 2006 at 11:46 am

Bedbugs are going to create “unsolvable” issues as regards Landlords/tenants…It should be criminal to rent an apt. in a bldg. that has active infestations – esp. an apt. that has an active infestation…So the landlord is responsible..but then a tenant can move in and bring them..How does one prove this ?? The landlord can target the tenant..and the tenant can target the landlord..However If we leave the responsibility of extermination up to the tenant..this will create chaos…Ultimately, the landlord owns the property and the buck must stop there…Real Estate owners should be demanding better, more effective extermination methods. I would like to pose the question to the young actress who fled from the infested SOHO loft…”What did you flee with?” Because these monster bugs can be in your pocketbook, you may have brought them with you…I certainly hope not..but..this is why they whole bedbug scenario is a nightmare…they are a communicable bug…people spread them…unintentionally..but..the fact remains..people spread them…Thus we must look to someone to help make people aware…and stop the spread…as much as possible..Deb

5 nobugsonme November 4, 2006 at 10:12 pm

Yes– Deb makrs a good point. I hope Maya Rudolph finds the Bedbugger blog. (Maybe she or her press folks google her name now and again.) If you’re listening, Maya, do some preventive work–maybe even get a good pest control guy to come in and do a bit of work in your new home. Otherwise, in a few weeks or months, it might start up again. We can’t usually flee the bed bugs. We need to kill them.

Funny, I am a pacifist and a former vegan (long story there).

Needless to say, I have never spent so much time batting around war metaphors and talking about “killing those #*&%^#@%$^s” as I have since I started getting bitten.

Chalk it up to Post-bedbug Personality Disorder, I guess. Not a health concern? Phooey!

6 Thomas January 20, 2007 at 12:00 pm

Very interesting. I feel the solution is for Landlords and prospective tenants to learn as much as possible about bed bugs, how to spot them there lifecycle etc as prevention is definitly better than a cure. Due to a previous problem in a Hostel i stayed in I have started a site on general information on bedbugs, see the URL below, to try and prevent these infestations and please mail me if you need any more help,

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thomas, your website is apparently a collection of RSS feeds from other sites including mine, and almost all the content on the main page has NOTHING to do with bed bugs. This is a splog (splog = blog plus spam, google it) and I am deleting the links from your comments to the site.

7 Buggylicious January 20, 2007 at 4:28 pm

I’d like to comment, and also to ask a question. My comment is on lawsuits: although one can find fault with a hotel, it is difficult to find fault with a landlord, in my opinion. It is not the landlord’s fault, that bed bugs arrive in the home. But the land lord should definitely help the tenants. As they would with mice or roaches, by paying for the exterminator. The tenants must then follow all the steps on their own to control the problem, ie, washing and bagging etc…. now, if the bugs come back….because the tenants don’t do things perfectly, who is responsible then? that wsn’tmy question. But I do want to know.. These lawsuits will definitely attract attention though and change things (hopefully for the better) but in the meantime, any one of us can be sued. I can have a friend or neighbor claim they got bed bugs from my apartment and sue me, personally. That would be a horrible ordeal. See what I mean? That wasn’t my question either. My question is kind of dumb but I always wanted to know the answer.
HERE IT IS: When you put mineral oil around the bed legs, do you find the dead bugs floating like dead bugs do in the oil? BL

8 twodogsathome January 20, 2007 at 4:46 pm

I found this link on this very newsletter, and it had the info from NYState regarding a landlord’s responsibility. It was within the Met Council link on the left side.

9 nobugsonme January 20, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Yes, Twodogs. Landlords in NY are responsible for treating infested apartments. We have links here to Met Council and also to other NYC and NY legal sites (look at our “tenant’s” FAQ in the Frequently Asked Questions.

Buggylicious and Twodogs, the article above is about Maya Rudolph’s case, where a landlord knowingly renting an apartment that was infested. I think in such a case the landlord is responsible if the problem was known to the landlord, and this would be easily discovered (did previous tenants write a letter of complaint? Did a PCO come and treat the unit?) We know that treatments take time, and many landlords, even if they do treat, will treat just once.

I will say it is difficult for a landlord to know if a unit is initially infested, or once treated, if it is still infested, if a tenant does not tell them so. And with an unoccupied unit, it would be even harder to know. It’s interesting that in this case, a week or so after the story broke, the unit was back on the market, with the rent notched up another $1000 or so. I think for a case like this to win, the plaintiff would need proof the landlord did not treat the apartment thoroughly or that they rented it knowing it was infested (which could be shown if they rented it right after people moved out and complained, for example).

On the other hand, I don’t think most people with infestations have a case–since most of us can’t prove our landlords knew they rented us infested units. I am against frivolous lawsuits, but there are some situations where the landlord or hotel is truly witholding information or being negligent, and if such cases are tried and won, it will help the rest of us in the long run.

10 nobugsonme January 20, 2007 at 5:59 pm

BL–I am going to move your question to the “Tales of Bed Bug Woe” thread, so someone will more likely see it than on this discussion.

11 nightvison007 January 16, 2008 at 5:18 am

it will it be hard for my wife and my self to sue the owner of the apt. we are on a month to month payment because Hawii is expencives to live. we live in a hostle can we win if we get a lawyer and fight the owners of this place. Because they had knowledge of the bedbug problems. can some one please give me the correct answer to my problems

12 nobugsonme January 16, 2008 at 1:32 pm

Nightvision, I responded to your other queries here:

If you have other questions, please post them on the forums. That’s the appropriate place for them, unless they are related to the posts you’re commenting on.

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