Never assume the tenant who complains about bed bugs is the only tenant with bed bugs

by nobugsonme on June 22, 2009 · 2 comments

in bed bugs, england, united kingdom

Cambridge (UK) tenant Alison Stephenson claims her property development and management firm Places for People is not concerned about her flat’s bed bug problem.  The tenant is apparently responsible for treatment, and Stephenson seems to be happy to arrange for this. But she says other units are infested also.  And there’s nothing she can do to keep bed bugs coming back to her unit, if other flats are infested.

Cambridge News Online reports that

Ms Stephenson says that despite raising the issue with property management and development company Places for People she hasn’t received a response.

She said call handlers for the firm suggested that if left alone the bugs would go away of their own accord.

She claimed they even hinted she might have caused the outbreak herself.

Two errors there:  first, bed bugs do not go away on their own.

Second, when you assume the first person to complain about or notice bed bugs in their unit is the source of said bed bugs, it shows an ignorance of this pest and how easily it spreads.  The Bed Bug Blame Game is pointless: everyone loses.

Stephenson is getting pest control treatment from Environmental Health — that’s not the issue.

Instead, she reports she’s concerned that the building is not dealing with the spread of bed bugs within the building:

“The call handlers kept saying that it was my problem and that I would have to pay for it, and that’s fine, I am willing to pay for it despite being a single mum, but if all that happens and they just come back then what’s the point?

“I’ve heard from three other people in the block, across three different floors, who also have them and it’s made me so ill I’m not sleeping.

It’s very hard to get rid of bed bugs if all infested units are not detected and simultaneously treated.

Cambridge News online also spoke with the management company:

A spokeswoman for Places for People said: “We are aware that Ms Stephenson has a problem with bedbugs in her home.

“Though this is an issue that individual customers are responsible for, we are happy to provide advice on arranging treatment through the local environmental health department, and to assist in any way we can.

When bed bugs are present, it simply is not sufficient to look at the one unit where a problem has been reported or detected. Building management companies need to help coordinate inspections and treatment within a building. At the very least, adjacent and attached units must be inspected, if not the entire building. Other units may need treatment, especially if what Stephenson reports about her neighbors is true.

If other units are infested and are sending bed bugs over, it is immensely frustrating for tenants whether landlords pay for treatment, or — as in this case — pest control is the tenant’s responsibility. It is not enough to put out the bed bug fire in one unit.

Instead of assuming a tenant’s complaints of bed bugs in their unit is an isolated incident, management companies need to get people who are experienced in searching for bed bugs to do some investigating and actually confirm this is the case.

Consider the alternative: in most cases, if bed bugs in your building become very bad, tenants can eventually move.

Landlords are stuck with an infested building. Property managers would do well to consider this fact and take care of their investment property.

1 JP McHale Pest Management Inc. July 2, 2009 at 11:23 am

I agree, this is also the same with cockroaches in apartment buildings.. If you get cockroaches and have a pest control operator will not be nearly effective unless your neighbor controls them also.

On the other hand, I can see an increase in K-9 bed bug sniffing dogs to indetify which rooms in the complex are infested, then depending on the rental agreement, decide who will be responsible for the treatment.

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