Another suit at Presidential Towers: this one focuses on landlord’s non-disclosure of neighbor’s bed bugs

by nobugsonme on March 10, 2007 · 17 comments

in bed bug disclosure, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, chicago, illinois, legal aspects of bed bugs, usa

A fourth person is suing Presidential Towers in Chicago: this time, on the grounds that Presidential Towers knew the neighbors had bugs, did not tell the tenant, who then got them.

This issue is relevant to all tenants with bed bugs. If landlords had to tell neighbors when one tenant had bed bugs, it might mean more people get treatment more quickly (which would be a good thing for landlords, in the end, because the problem could be treated before their entire buildings get infested). It would help tenants, because they could be warned (and as we know, some people don’t suffer from bites, and so may have no other warning.) In the end, it would lessen the spread of the bugs in a building and, by extension, in the larger community.

And though no one will want to admit their building has bed bugs, in the end, it might mean more people talk about this and the stigma is lessened. You can’t run or hide from bed bugs, so you might as well talk about them.

Previous Presidential Towers posts are here and here. And there are hundreds more on the internets.

1 parakeets March 12, 2007 at 8:51 am

Absolutely. Disclosure is critical. I also feel any incoming tenants should also be told a building’s history with bedbugs before they sign a lease. Some communities have tenant housing courts where records about landlord/tenant issues such as bedbugs are kept–and a lawyer I know said that somehow the records about bedbugs frequently seem to “disappear.” Disclosure, disclosure, disclosure!

2 Bugalina March 12, 2007 at 12:22 pm

If bed bug laws are passed ( they absolutely should be), then the “criminality factor” must lie in disclosure. If a bed bug infestation is kept undercover, then the landlord who is not disclosing should be charged with a criminal violation. If the landlord discloses the infestation immediately upon discovery , and then takes necessary action, following the “bed bug extermination guidelines” , proving that they are doing all they can, than this should clear them of any wrong doing. People who move into apts. that have active infestations should be well within their rights to sue the landlord for all losses and pain and suffering.

3 Beth March 12, 2007 at 12:44 pm

I recently learned (by a bizarre case of 6 degrees of seperation) that the previous tenant of my apartment had left because of bed bugs. he told my friend for me to get out since the place was infected and that is why he left. They would not do anything about it. However, when i called, my landlord was extremely understanding and had an exterminator at my place within three business days.
I wish I had known before about the bedbugs, because it took me weeks to realize what the bites were (I thought it could be mosquitos or spiders or something else).

The next time I move apartments I plan on trying to get the place fumigated as a precaution to moving in. I dont’ want to go through that horror again!

4 nobugsonme March 12, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Hi Beth,
I think moving into an infested place is common now, though finding out from anyone as you did is the exception.
The only problem with preventative treatment is that PCOs are not legally allowed to treat a home unless there is evidence of bed bugs. (Routine spraying for roaches is legal, obviously, and a lot of apts do this.) There are people who will do it, but they aren’t supposed to.
The other problem is that bed bugs can take multiple (and sometimes many) treatments to be eliminated, so one such treatment offers no security.
On the other hand, anyone could use a light dusting of fresh water DE as a preventive in their homes — this might be good when people move to a new place.

5 S. March 12, 2007 at 6:06 pm

We are moving to a new home in September, and we are already planning how to preventatively treat our new home, just in case a) we bring the bugs with us, b) the place has bedbugs to begin with, or c) we somehow get them again down the road.

We plan to put dust in the outlet plates, Demand on the baseboards, and caulk in the holes, before we move a single thing in.

I am not advocating that others do their own pest control, especially if they are renters – however, we are moving from being renters to being homeowners, and we have decided that we will take matters into our own hands from that point forward. We also have seen the PCO treat 6 times and at some point, you realize that you could do this better AND cheaper.

Re: Presidential Towers – I am glad that Chicago is the heart of bedbug lawsuits! Go Chicago lawyers! Fight those panicked landlords and shady motels!

6 Bugalina March 12, 2007 at 6:20 pm

S…I think its alright if you take over some control….As long as you are careful….I think you are doing the right thing by pre-treating your new place…

7 nobugsonme March 12, 2007 at 6:59 pm

S– you know I counsel strongly against DIY pest control. But you also know the context in which I do it.

You are in a different boat because you have not only watched a PCO work during 6 visits, you’ve learned what all the pesticides are, what they do, where they go, and potential dangers. (Normally I’d leave it to Jessinchicago to anoint you, but she’s a bit busy right now from what I gather.)

But most people don’t and that’s why I don’t recommend doing-it-yourself. And I still don’t recommend it until someone has seen the PCOs doing it for that long, done all the research, etc.

And even though I know you know all this, I have to keep repeating it, everytime it comes up, lest someone comes on the blog for the first time, sees others are doing their own, tries something and makes their bed bugs worse or gets injured. I’ve heard stories albeit not via the blog on pets dying due to pesticides, and people harming their skin and lungs.

So everyone else, don’t, please don’t. Read the FAQ on (not) doing your own pest control.

But S–rock on!

8 Bugalina March 13, 2007 at 7:56 am

S….Really has no choice. If exterminators demand proof, other than bites, It can delay precious extermination time. This is what happened to me.
The exterminators wanted me to prove to them that my bites were from bed bugs. It was almost 3 weeks later that one was found crawling on my back. That was 3 weeks that allowed the bugs to breed. This is why I started to self treat. Not by choice, but by necessity. If pre-treating isn’t an available option, then S has no choice. I think pre-treating, given this explosive epidemic, is intelligent and necessary. An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure. Deb

9 nobugsonme March 13, 2007 at 11:40 pm


I firmly believe most people — who do not have S’s background — should not use pesticides. (If you read my comment above correctly, you’d see I was granting an exception in S’s case.) Even experienced users, who did it out of necessity and really did their research, like Jess, have told us they hurt themselves using pesticides.

I do not include DE in this (though obviously there are still cautions to be taken). I think it is safe for people who’ve never had bed bugs or have no evidence of an infestation to use freshwater DE (with care).

I would not want people to rush to self-treat thinking that PCOs can’t find evidence if the person can’t, since PCOs should have an easier time finding evidence than new sufferers can. Evidence does not mean bugs. Even if your PCO didn’t find such evidence, they’ve learned a lot since then.

If it seems like I’m a bit pushy about these views, it’s because I wouldn’t want people to harm themselves or make their infestations worse and then say, “Well, I read on Bedbugger that this is what I should do.”

10 S. March 14, 2007 at 12:50 pm

Nobugs and Bugalina, thanks for your consideration of me as an exception. I am aware of the risks, and I think at this point I have the general methods down. However, I still plan to read the product labels very carefully, follow them to a tee, and still probably ask Jessinchicago lots of questions!

I too agree that doing your own pest control is not wise, for most people, in most cases. For us, it’s been three and a half months, and I think we’re almost ready to make the leap. If our first 3 PCO treatments hadn’t been just in the bedroom, if we didn’t have a wooden ceiling, if we didn’t have a brick wall full of holes, if we didn’t have two cars, and if we had isolated our bed sooner than 6 weeks in, this might have stopped by now, and we never would have felt the need to resort to buying our own stuff.

But then again, if we hadn’t gotten our landlord to pay for extermination, if we didn’t eventually find a PCO who was so thorough and open-minded, if I didn’t have a counselor who helped me and my boyfriend understand my trauma, and if I didn’t have this website and all the people I’ve met through it, we might have taken matters into our own hands sooner.

(Editor’s note, but without watching the PCO, or having contact with people like Jess that you could ask about pesticides, you would have been even less qualified to go it alone, and more likely to either hurt yourself or make your bed bug problems worse.)

So, thanks to everyone. I hope to declare success sometime soon, though right now, it’s just too soon to tell.

11 Ihatebedbugs4eva March 14, 2007 at 1:08 pm

If this is the case then why was I charged $1700 by CMJ Management to breake my lease early due to infestation? I couldn’t live there, and i couldnt rent out my other bedroom (after my roomate left) knowing that the new person will probably get bedbugs as well. I told the management this and they agreed, and told me they were keeping my security deposit.

I live in Boston, and was in my apartment for 5 years with never a problem. Nothing. A couple years ago the management did notify residents in my building to move everythign from the walls etc and they were coming in to either spray or put glue traps down. Well, i didnt have bedbugs then.

Now it turns otu i found out many people in my building had bedbugs aroudn the same time i did, but no one was notified of anything. They just treated it like they were coming in to paint the walls or something, no one else needs to know, right?

Wrong. I heard that one itme the aparmtent below me had bedbugs, and i have a feeling some students brought them in a couple doors down as well.

Still..i lost $1700 and that is not counting throwing out my good bed, and almost all of my furniture.

Corcoran Mullens Jenison Management does not care. They never have to live with these things and they also have no problem taking your money and life right out from under your nose.

12 nobugsonme March 14, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Hi 4Eva,
I am sorry about your situation.
It sounds like it’s too late in your case, but others can look at our tenants/landlords FAQ for information for renters in various cities (including Boston). If your city isn’t covered, do a google, or check the city web page for housing laws for tenants. Send us any relevant links covering laws about maintaining property, eliminating pests, etc.

13 parakeets March 15, 2007 at 8:30 am

I’m from the Boston area, too, and my situation exactly parallels yours. My building has had bedbugs for a couple of years and we have never been told we have bedbugs. Never. I have had samples and a medical diagnosis and everything. We’re told nothing. They don’t even tell us when they are treating. Tenants have moved out due to bedbugs and new tenants are moving in, not knowing they are moving into an infested building. A friend of mine lives in a building where they were treated for what obviously was bedbugs, and the tenants weren’t told it was bedbugs. They were told it was for “a new kind of roach.” Not only is there no disclosure, there is outright fraud. The management companies and landlords will lose in the long run since this ostrich behavior spreads bedbugs much worse than if they ever did disclosure and correct treatment. I’m sure landlords and management companies in the Boston area are not merely ignoring bedbugs, they are quaking at them!

14 nobugsonme March 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Hi Parakeets,
Your situation is a prime example of how revolutionary the aggregate pheromones traps can be: you could have irrevocable proof of bed bugs in your home. Everyone in the building could. Month after month.
Imagine the class action suit that would enable.

(See people, I am not anti-lawsuit!)

15 Ihatebedbugs4eva March 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm

Hi Parakeets,

Wouldn’t it be great if were in the same building? I doubt it, but it would make things much more interesting hehe.

The management company knows we all have bedbugs, and they did say “this is a bed bug prevention” a couple years ago, but if they knoew how m any units in my buidlign had them, why didnt they do another “preventative” maitnenance!!!
The only difference is when i called and said i had them, they didnt deny it, its almost like they were expecting my call. If only they would have hired a new PCO who knew what they were doing. IT was funny becuase the one they hired were always in our complex on Tuesdays and Thursdays…kinda like THEY knew too that we all were itchy!

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