Landlord tells all tenants to toss sofas, mattresses as bed bug “prep”

by nobugsonme on March 18, 2010 · 5 comments

in bed bug prep, bed bugs, maryland, mattresses

All residents of a bed bug-infested building in Fruitland, Maryland were told by their landlord to toss out their sofas and mattresses before the building is treated for bed bugs.

WMDT reports that

John Justice and his neighbors were told to toss out their sofas and mattresses. The landlord gave all the residents a letter stating that their building was contaminated with bed bugs and that if they didn’t get rid of their furniture they would face fines of 110 to 300 dollars.

Sometimes items such as sofas and mattresses are so infested they need to be tossed out.

However, this is often not the case, and I am troubled to hear a landlord mandate that items must be tossed out across the board, presumably without the items having been inspected.  Mattresses in particular can be encased to keep bed bugs in.

There’s no guarantee that tossing out these items will help correct the problem. It will mean residents may be living under very difficult conditions.

And it may backfire for the landlord: residents on limited budgets who have to discard such essential items may end up replacing them secondhand, potentially bringing in new bed bug problems.

1 Lou March 19, 2010 at 7:27 pm

And if infested mattresses, box springs, furniture, etc. are being carried but not covered or encased to be dumped outside, bugs can be dropped off all through the building by tenants who don’t want to be fined, but potentially introduce bugs into areas where they are not yet present.

2 nobugsonme March 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Yes, thanks Lou — that’s also a crucial point.

3 Cilecto March 21, 2010 at 11:38 am

This scenario probably plays itself out hundreds of times a day: The low-bid PCO hired by the landlord has subjected the resident to the disruption of the prep protocol says “lady, toss the couch”. Is this because these items truly can’t be treated, or, because the PCO does not know how, or is just lazy? Or is it that the landlord deliberately wants to set up certain tenants for being un-cooperative (and to drive them out)?

In any case, what forces can be brought to bear to keep landlords from hiring the PCOs who are most destructive to the lifestyle of the tenants?

I’m glad that this story is getting a public airing. We need to settle, nationwide, who’s responsible for what when it comes to bed-bug eradication. If it’s established that landlords are responsible for lost property, they’ll be incented to hire PCOs who are less wanton about tossing furnishings. This may cost more and landlords will need to adjust rents to account for this (and in regulated cities, this will surely come up for a public hearing, just as increased energy costs did). If it’s the tenants’ responsibility, potential tenants and sofa buyers will need to take this into account when making purchase or rental decisions.

4 Strabat March 24, 2010 at 2:02 am

The Richmond CA complex tented is now in a more favorable position to receive other funding and services from other federal, state and local agencies.
Those responsible for accomplishing this task are now enjoying accolades within the community as well.

5 MBcowboy March 24, 2010 at 9:29 am

Only under the most extraordinary circumstances, do we recommend proper disposal of box springs, mattresses or furnishings. Most times we get the phone call from a somewhat distressed homeowner or tenant after they have tossed out their bed, sofa, etc. wanting us to come on out and treat immediately as they have just bought new furniture and it’s arriving in the next day or so.

If chemical treatment is the option chosen, unless very lucky with a small infestation, in all likelihood the home will require a minimum 3 with as many as 10 treatment cycles with a waiting period of 10-14 days in between cycles. So now we add brand new furniture into the mix and this will inevitably become home to the new hatching bed bugs.

And if the old furniture appears to be in good condition, you can bet that dumpster divers will have scooped it from the curb by the time you awake or get back downstairs. Your neighbor may have just “scored” with your old furniture and is now spreading bed bugs you are working so hard to get rid of. We take a knife and slash all discarded furniture to the point of it being shredded while in the dwelling, then we bag and seal it to avoid bed bug spreading while it is being transported, and finally we spray paint on the exterior of the poly bagging “BED BUG CONTAMINATED – DO NOT USE”. Works like a charm.

Proper heat eradication is very effective in treating all belongings which are not susceptible to heat damage in excess of 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Many pest management companies have heat chamber vaults that homeowners can bring their belongings to for such treatment pre/post move in/out – many landlords are now insisting such protocol be followed. It is not bullet proof but it does help keep buildings in check. And proper mattress and box spring covers are essential in the battle against bed bugs and it will save you money in replacements 25 times over.

The vast majority of the time as with all in life, you get what you pay for. The lowest bidder usually ensures you get the lowest amount of service and expertise. Usually, it also ensures you get the most dissatisfaction.

Educate yourself to the realities of bed bugs – this site is full of knowledge from reputable people with links to many more educational sites. Remember, if it sounds to good to be true – it usually is.

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