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9 months in and looking for advice...

(4 posts)
  1. bedoozled

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    Joined: Feb '13
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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Sep 4 2013 12:08:34
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    Hi all!

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted – I’ve been entrenched in what’s feeling like a neverending wait-and-see extermination process. I’d like to sort of post a (very in-depth) synopsis of what I’ve gone through since our BB issue started back in January, and get some opinions on what our next steps should be – I’m feeling a little lost, so I’d really appreciate any advice!

    So, back to the beginning. My sister and I live in an apartment building in Brooklyn. We got our first bedbug bites this past January. In February, after the bites increased and actually seeing a bug on my pillow one morning, we notified our management, and they arranged for their extermination company (Aggressive) to come and spray. In preparation for that extermination -- on our own initiative, since Aggressive gave us virtually no hard instructions for preparation -- we bagged all of our clothes and cleared some clutter.

    Aggressive sprayed about four more times during February and March -- to no apparent effect, since the bedbug bites continued. They used Bedlam+, BARELY inspected, and proceeded to soak my mattress and kind of sprayed my baseboards – every time they came the treatment was similarly casual.

    Both of us, by the way, have had serious allergic reactions to these bites (I have them on each calf as we speak, and they’ve swollen up to encompass my whole calf, with a hard, tender spot at the center, and they itch constantly!). Every time we get them they swell to a huge size, with a bruised center, and itch terribly.

    Because of the ineffectiveness of Aggressive's treatments, we A) notified the New York Department of Housing Preservation of the ongoing infestation (which unfortunately came to nothing – the two times they tried to send someone we were away from the apartment, and the number they left never worked), and B) persuaded management to bring in a bed bug sniffing dog to try and detect the source of the problem.

    Aggressive contracted a dog (but wouldn’t let us know through which company), and tried to get access to as many apartments as they could, but we never received any notice of what this actually entailed – how many of the adjacent apartments were inspected, or how many in the building total. Around this time we had also learned that bed bugs had been an ongoing issue in the apartment building – we live in the B line, but we’d heard that the F line had been dealing with them for a year and a half, in one case, none of which we were made aware of when we moved.

    Anyway, during the dog search (which found nothing in our own apartment, where we know for a fact they existed – we’d caught and bagged a number of live bugs), Aggressive gained admittance to 5B, the apartment directly below ours, and discovered a huge infestation. Which explained, probably in large part, why Aggressive's previous treatments of our apartment had been ineffective.

    5B (according to what I could glean from our super) had a terrible issue, which they hadn’t bothered to report, a hugely cluttered apartment, a wholly infested bed, mattress, and bed frame, and irascible and uncooperative tenants – as we would later learn personally (I’m actually astonished, in retrospect, that Aggressive gained access at all).

    By this point, in early May, we had spent four months intensively researching bedbug extermination standards (most of which I did right here on bedbugger, and with some of your help!). We found a strong consensus that Aggressive's non-strategic approach was not going to be effective. They gave us no preparation instructions, didn't schedule follow-ups until we asked them to return, and essentially just kept spraying the same chemicals in the same places even after that method clearly wasn't working.

    In May, at our own expense (after it was clear we wouldn’t be able to convince the management company to hire a different PCO – and we’d also learned, very clearly at this point, that while Aggressive could no doubt handle roaches and mice they were NOT prepared to handle BBs), we finally decided to hire our own extermination company, M&M Environmental, to try and remedy the problem.

    M&M (who were very helpful and courteous and professional the entire time) insisted that we *fully* prepare our apartment, and had an extensive preparation sheet: we a) laundered and dried at high heat every piece of clothing and fabric in the apartment and stored them in air-tight bags (redoing any we’d already done); b) steamed all non-washable items and stored them in air-tight bags; c) sent out our rugs to be cleaned; d) hired a firm at M&M's recommendation to plastic-wrap all upholstered furniture in the apartment and treat more items (books, bags, shoes) in a PackTite; e) placed our mattresses and box springs in bedbug-proof casements; f) removed the plates from all the electrical switches and outlets; and g) moved all furniture (and dishwasher) to the center of the rooms. Our entire apartment, essentially, had all the items treated and sealed in boxes (airtight, plastic) or giant Ziplocs, everything was pushed to the center of the room, and made ready for the extermination.

    On the first treatment, M&M sealed and caulked along every baseboard, pipe, radiator and so forth to prevent further bug entry. They sprayed a green insecticide in all the open electrical sockets, baseboards, and all other entry points as well as bed frames and other furniture. And finally, they briefly froze the apartment interior to kill all bugs and eggs present, with Kryonite (I believe that’s what it was called).

    M&M informed us that some of their caulking would be ineffective, for larger gaps, so we also contracted a company to come and professionally seal those spaces – around pipes, radiators, and so on (our building is an old one, and even though it was renovated before we moved in, that was mostly confined to the bathroom and repainting the walls). M&M then performed the standard follow-up treatment in 6B for us -- re-examined the sealing/caulking, re-sprayed and re-froze -- in June.

    The preparation and the initial treatment itself, both in early May, began the period during which 6B was essentially uninhabitable: per M&M, all furniture, clothing and other objects were to remain wrapped/bagged for at least 45 days after the 2nd treatment (in June) -- and in our case, given the ongoing extreme infestation in 5B, to await unwrapping and habitation until the 5B problem was resolved. Which we hoped wouldn’t take more than a couple of months.

    Every time we contacted management requesting an update on the situation, they continued to tell us that situation in 5B was on its way to resolution, that there would be bi-weekly spraying and continued bagging and removal of infested items. As of early July that had not happened, but we decided to test out the situation in our apartment anyway, and -- although all our belongings remained wrapped and fairly unusable -- we slept in the apartment for a week. We were bitten on an almost nightly basis; the apartment was still uninhabitable. M&M came back for another follow-up treatment, killing the bugs that had migrated to our apartment and performing more checks.

    Having left the apartment again, we spent the rest of the summer waiting to return until 5B's infestation is taken care of, which we were again assured was being worked on. However, when we checked in a month ago about the progress of the promised treatment plan for 5B, we were dismayed to learn that almost none of the plan had been executed -- that the tenants had unbagged items, that they discarded hardly anything, that they stopped allowing insecticide treatments, and that the apartment had been only partially been sealed.

    We decided, again, to test out the situation in our apartment, hoping that whatever had been done in 5B between early July and the end of August might have been enough to make our own apartment habitable – and frankly, we were tired of waiting, and would rather get a yes or no answer than remain in the “maybe” stage. We moved back in – again, with only the bare minimum unpacked, everything mostly still sealed up tight except basic cookware and bathroom supplies, beds isolated, couch still covered in plastic, etc.

    We attempted to talk to 5B, hoping that meeting them in person and making them aware of how their situation was affecting us would encourage them to be more cooperative and proactive in the treatment – it did NOT go well. We were treated with suspicion and aggression, and flat out lied to (they claimed to have never had any BBs whatsoever). Feeling fairly hopeless and defeated, we returned to our apartment, nevertheless intent on trying to wait it out, use ourselves as bait to see if the problem had been resolved.

    Around this time, we’ve also been trying to speak to our management company about potential repayment. We faithfully paid our rent for the apartment all summer, despite not living there, as well as all other bills, and paying for all the treatments (M&M, rug cleanings, the contracted sealings, the professional prepartion help and so on) ourselves. We wanted to try and request a return (or absented rent) for those 3-4 months of money, and on some of the more obviously invested expenses, such as the sealing. We’ve been stonewalled again and again, and have received no response from the management company, who refuse to even talk to us, let alone meet and discuss the situation.

    Despite ALL of this, the management company still believes using Aggressive is the best course, and has been doing so, and trying to encourage us to receive more sprayings from them, but given their previous ineffectiveness, I’m hesitant to allow it – I’d just worry we’d be spraying poison in our apartment for nothing, and potentially scattering anything that might be there now. Furthermore, we’re still in a situation where management is fairly uncommunicative – they only respond to our inquiries after some pushing, and never initiate or freely give out information.

    This past weekend, I received SOMETHING on my calves. I’m not positive if it’s bed bug bites, maybe a spider bite, or something else (definitely some kind of bite versus an allergic reaction), although obviously I’m inclined to believe the coincidence would be too great for it to be anything other than BBs, and the size and swelling, the itchiness of them, are in line with what happened to me previously. I’m sure a lot of you can understand how I’m feeling – like nothing we do will work, like the situation is hopeless, like we’ve sunk a lot of money into an unwinnable fight, tired of waiting and tired of relying on other people who are so clearly unwilling to do what needs to be done. We’re getting to the point where even though we LOVE our apartment, and it’s absolutely perfect for us, we’re considering the exhausting possibility of moving.

    In my ideal world, we could convince management to pay for and hire hire a company to move all of the 5B tenants' belongings into a truck, to be taken to a facility and be completely fumigated, to ensure total elimination and prevent the problem of 5B unbagging their things and their general lack of cooperation. While that was happening, their apartment could be treated as ours was, ours could receive a final follow up, and then hopefully – problem solved! I know however that the management company will never agree to this, even if they could convince 5B to do so.

    We’re entering our 9th month of infestation (regardless of the fact that by law, New York landlords are required to eradicate bedbug infestations within 30 days.) We have been reasonable and courteous at every step. We have continued to pay our rent, despite the infestation and uninhabitability of our apartment. We have spent thousands of dollars on treatments. Our mother, who's a co-signer of the lease, laid out the basic outlines of a fair compensation agreement; we and she have gotten no response to that. We are really at our wit's end! If anyone managed to make it through all of that - I just don’t know what to do, and am looking anywhere I can for help ☺

    - Kate

  2. bed-bugscouk

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    Joined: Apr '07
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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Sep 4 2013 12:24:35
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    Hi,

    This sounds like you need to deal with the housing and public health departments on this one.

    There is one huge error in the strategy so far, which is 5B is the source and until it is resolved the issue will remain. no amount of caulking will protect you, its physically impossible to seal yourself in from bedbugs. I am also not aware of anyone who has had long term success with the cryonite and once you have seen bedbugs wake up from a freeze induced coma after just 30 minutes you know they should have stuck with its original application for freezing cake on production lines.

    The best strategy on getting action outside of the public health system is to directly communicate with all of 5B's adjoining neighbours because you will not be alone in your suffering. If you all work together then you are not as easily dismissed.

    Sadly this is just another example of a management company learning the hard way that its costs more in the long run to let a problem get out of control rather than spending a little more at the start and getting it fixed quickly.

    Hope that helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    If you have found this information helpful please consider leaving feedback on social media via google+ or FaceBook or by like/loving the images.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about products.
  3. BBHysteria

    newbite
    Joined: Aug '13
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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Sep 4 2013 21:48:21
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    Kate... I have no advice. I just wanted to say I'm so so sorry for you have gone through. Please take David's advice. Again, I just wanted you to know I will be thinking about you and I'm sorry you are going through this nightmare.

  4. bedoozled

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    Joined: Feb '13
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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Sep 9 2013 11:19:39
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    @bed-bugscouk
    Thank you David! I really appreciate your advice - our new current plan is to once again try reaching out to the housing and public health departments; to compose a note that we can use to inform our neighbors of the ongoing issue; to undergo a heat treatment if it looks like 5B's issue has been resolved, before we begin to consider unpacking. That's what we keep trying to drive home to the management company - that it's in everyone's interests (including theirs) to control this as efficiently and effectively now as possible.

    @BBHysteria
    Thank you! I appreciate it Along this whole process it's been helpful for me to be a part (actively or passively) of this community, exactly because of people like you!


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