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Bedbugs found multiple times but PCO can't find source [expert ID needed]

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  1. Junmato

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 10 2017 15:43:40
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    Hi all,

    My family and I could really use some legal/practical advice on what to do about our current situation. Some quick facts to start:

    - We live in upstate NY
    - Our apartment lease has a bedbug clause that states that the tenant responsible for having bedbugs has to treat their apartment and all other infected units.

    Okay, so my family recently found some bedbugs in our apartment (have lived here for almost 2 years). At first 3 were found within 2 days in weird places (1 on the bathroom mirror, 1 in the kitchen and 1 on the couch). We checked our bedding and the furniture and found none. We then informed our property manager who sent over an exterminator who uses a bedbug sniffing dog. The guy confirmed that what we found were bedbugs (from pics) but neither he or the dog found anything. He told us to remain vigilant. 3 weeks later, we find another bedbug in the bathtub on its back... We again have the exterminator come over with the dog and he again finds nothing. THAT SAME NIGHT we find THREE more bedbugs (1 in the bathroom, 2 in the kitchen). We are absolutely stumped. None are small/nymphs. We have no idea where they're coming from. Our property manager is essentially insisting we're bringing them in and refuses to have the other apartments checked. We're so stressed out. What can we do? The PCO doesn't want to treat because he said he can't treat if he doesn't find any. We don't want to he held legally responsible for something that doesn't seem to be our faults and we're also concerned about not doing anything and it getting out of hand. Right now, we plan to use DE and Cimexa but that may only keep them at bay until the source is found. How can we find the source? How can we get our landlord to take more action? Please help!

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 10 2017 20:57:39
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    - Our apartment lease has a bedbug clause that states that the tenant responsible for having bedbugs has to treat their apartment and all other infected units.

    Try and verify if this clause is legal. A lawyer or legal aid clinic is your best bet. Sometimes these things are not legit.

    3 weeks later, we find another bedbug in the bathtub on its back... We again have the exterminator come over with the dog and he again finds nothing. THAT SAME NIGHT we find THREE more bedbugs (1 in the bathroom, 2 in the kitchen).

    That's really unusual. Bed bugs are not normally found in bathrooms or kitchens.

    There are some possible reasons for finding them there:

    1. They're not bed bugs or a related species (posting a photo will help confirm).
    2. They're related species of bat or bird bugs which have come in via a window or wall.
    3. They're bed bugs which came in from an attached neighbor via pipes in the kitchen or bathroom.

    Can you post a close image here? That way one of our experts can confirm it's a bed bug. If it's detailed enough, they may also be able to rule out bird or bat bugs.

    Have you had any issues with birds or bats inside the structure or on it?

    Even if they are bed bugs, since they probably came from an attached neighbor, the bed bug clause may not apply, since they are being introduced from another unit.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Feb 10 2017 21:47:03
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    I'd have to agree with nobugs, if they are indeed bed bugs, chances are they are coming from an attached neighbor considering where you found them and the lack of harborages and nymphs. If management will not agree to have neighboring apartments inspected, consider talking to legal council or looking up the laws(if there are any in your state) regarding tenant and landlord obligations when it comes to bed bugs, especially in multi unit dwellings. Then bring their obligations to their attention, report them to proper authorities, or/and even talk to your neighbors yourself.

    Cause if it is a neighbor issue, you getting treatment could be pointless considering they'd likely come right back.

    I am not an expert, any advice I give should be considered as amateur advice and not taken as fact. I mean well with all my posts and try to give back. If you plan on using any of my advice, I suggest doing research into said advice to make sure it is in your best interest.
    Study on Thermal Death Points(pages 18-29 of pdf) : http://www.propanecouncil.org/uploadedFiles/Council/Research_and_Development/REP_12221%20Efficacy%20of%20Heat%20on%20Bed%20Bugs.pdf
    Study on Cimexa: http://www.pctonline.com/article/pct0814-silica-gel-research-bed-bugs/
  4. Junmato

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Feb 11 2017 11:37:41
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    [img][/img]

    Here's a picture - sorry the quality isn't the best. This was one I found and dropped in the toilet. The PCO confirmed the ones found were bedbugs. As far as getting the other apartments checked, we have repeatedly asked our landlord to check the other units but his response is, "Well, you're the only ones reporting it." As if simply because no one is reporting it then they can't possibly have it and be attempting to treat it themselves (or ignoring the issue).

    We have had no issues with birds or bats, also.

  5. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Feb 11 2017 12:46:09
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    I've been thinking a lot about your situation since I first read it. Was hoping you had some good answers by now from the experts.

    I'll share my story... I found the first several bed bugs in the bathroom over several months. The first 2 I didn't know what they were and didn't even think about bed bugs, just killed and moved on. The 3rd was tiny and I thought it was a beetle baby. The 4th was crawling down my t-shirt in the middle of the night trip to the bathroom and that's when I realized what was happening. In my view, they likely were traveling to the bathroom on my clothes when I would get up in the night and drop off there. So consider that they could be getting transported to the bathroom and kitchen.

    Do you know if you or your family members react to bites?

    Did you check all the beds and furniture very very thoroughly?

    For peace of mind you could put interceptor traps on the bed legs to prevent bbugs from climbing up. It could also help you isolate which room they are coming from IF they are harboring in a room but not in furniture (such as an outlet or power strip).

    I've never used this product but it could help you identify where the bugs are coming from by placing it in different areas of the house.

    Since you DO have bbugs in the apartment and your landlord is refusing to help... as a DIYer I would treat all the beds and rooms and put interceptor traps on the furniture. And apply Cimexa in cracks and crevices. It won't change the fact that they could be coming from the neighbor but it will help catch and kill them when they arrive and prevent them from feeding and setting up harborages. There are some DIY links in my disclaimer below.

    Oh and... if you want to get your landlord to inspect the other apartments just tell him you will be knocking on doors and letting everyone know that you have found bed bugs and asking if they have them also. It should get him motivated. You may want to do the knocking and asking anyway.

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  6. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Feb 11 2017 22:12:53
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    Poiqm, please stop linking to and recommending bed bug dots, which no experts here have recommended AFAIK and which you have no way of verifying the efficacy of. That link was deleted. The Volcano is also not recommended by any experts here AFAIK.

    Junmato,
    If you can, call the PCO. Talk to them about what it means when bed bugs are ONLY found in bathrooms and kitchens. I assume they inspected your living room and bedroom(s) thoroughly and found nothing else.

    Experienced PCOs would believe they are either (a) not bed bugs or (b) coming from attached neighbors. You may be able to find an independent PCO to back you up on this.

    I am not an expert but I suspect the image isn't close up enough to rule out bat or bird bugs. However, in the absence of birds or bats, the attached neighbors with bed bugs is the strongest theory, IMO.

    If the landlord is hellbent on pushing you out, they may keep pushing, but they're either ignorant of bed bug behavior and the PCO isn't clueing them in for some reason, or they are willfully ignoring the PCO. Treatment of your unit alone will not solve the problem.

    You could also try talking to neighbors. They may have seen bed bugs and not known what they are. They may know they have them and fear reporting them, since they'd have to pay. That's common.

  7. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Feb 11 2017 22:36:29
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    You're no doubt in a tough situation with management. But take action... don't let them push you around. Do what you need to do, you can't sit back and let them let this situation get worse. Go and talk to management in person and tell them your concerns with neighboring units and try and educate them a bit on what could be going on, telling them it could get worse and more expensive for them in the long run if they let a neighbors infestation spread and get out of control. Consider legal counsel, at least talk to somebody and see what your options are. Consider talking to your neighbors yourself, cause that will tell you a lot. They may be concerned and look into it themselves, possibly scheduling an inspection themselves if theyve had a few signs that theyve thought nothing of or you may get a bit of resistance from a neighbor that may show you the potential neighboring source.

    While I think poiqms intentions are good, don't start DIY. Take the steps you need to take with management and neighbors and then a professional. Then do whatever you have to do.

    Don't put your head in the sand like some people do. Take action and do it the right way. Good luck!

  8. Junmato

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 6:07:06
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    Thanks, I will definitely talk to my neighbors. I feel so frustrated and powerless because management is determined to not take any responsibility for this (e.g. repeatedly telling me how "easy" bedbugs are to pick up from places). The PCO was also sent over by management and while he admits that the locations where the bugs were found are weird, he hasn't recommended to management that the other units be checked (despite telling us in person that he thought that was necessary). I'm even starting to question the legitimacy of that dog since it picked up nothing and more bugs were found hours after the last inspection. Maybe an independent PCO would be better...

    As others have mentioned DIY won't treat the source, since it doesn't seem to be originating from the apartment (none of our furniture is yet infested). I'll be calling a few places on Monday to find out the legality of the bedbug clause in my lease for NYS.

  9. bugged-cdn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 7:29:40
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    The PCO was also sent over by management and while he admits that the locations where the bugs were found are weird, he hasn't recommended to management that the other units be checked (despite telling us in person that he thought that was necessary)

    Is the landlord saying the PCO didn't recommend inspecting adjoining units?

  10. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 13:41:48
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    Poiqm, please stop linking to and recommending bed bug dots, which no experts here have recommended AFAIK and which you have no way of verifying the efficacy of. That link was deleted. The Volcano is also not recommended by any experts here AFAIK.
    Junmato,

    Fascinating. They are recommended by the IBBRA and I sent you a message letting you know that one of the scientists here is on the advisory board to the organization that recommends BedBugDots. You could ask his opinion on them. I won't ask him publicly as I don't want to put him on the spot.

    http://ibbra.org/3-step-process-to-eliminate-bed-bugs/

  11. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 13:43:50
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    Junmato, here is a DIY monitor recommended by an expert here on the forum.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/lou_bugs_pix/16271324338/

  12. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 14:27:58
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    The Volcano is also not recommended by any experts here AFAIK.

    Here is research on the Volcano:
    http://senscionline.com/university-research/

    Here are the bed bug experts who developed the product:
    http://senscionline.com/bios/

    Texas A&M Field Evaluation
    "Over the two months of the study, SenSci Volcano Bed Bug Detector traps with SenSci Active lures
    caught more bed bugs than Volcano traps without lures or ClimbUp Interceptors "

    Penn State Research
    "Two weeks after installation of the monitors, bed bugs were detected in two out of the 10 apartments (Units 31 and
    33). When the monitors were inspected four weeks after installation, an additional three apartments were found to
    have bed bugs (Units 11, 22 and 24) for a total of five out of 10 apartments with bed bug activity. In addition to the
    five apartments, bed bugs were detected in monitors located in the 2nd floor hallway on both inspection dates. All
    of the apartments that were found to have bed bugs with the monitors were also found to have bed bugs with a
    visual inspection. Visual inspection failed to detect bed bugs in any of the five apartments where bed bugs were not
    detected in monitors (no bed bugs were found through visual inspection or the use of the monitors)."

  13. Livingagain

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 14:58:46
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    You find a lot of good stuff, Poiqm.

  14. Poiqm

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Feb 12 2017 15:09:42
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    barelyliving - 6 minutes ago  » 
    You find a lot of good stuff, Poiqm.

    Aww, thank you! And I really want to share it with other people struggling with bed bugs. I was in a panic induced catatonic state for a couple weeks after discovering the bbugs then decided that I had to fight back. Fear can be a great motivator! Now I'm a little bit fascinated by bed bugs. It's an interesting place to be between wanting to study them and wanting to destroy them!

  15. Junmato

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu May 25 2017 6:38:35
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    Hi all,

    It's been a few months but I wanted to update everyone on the issue and solicit advice/recommendations on my what my legal options are at this point.

    So a neighbor from several floors upstairs (3rd floor) notified us that she was finding bedbugs in her apartment and that the gentleman on the 2nd floor (I live on the first floor) admitted to having an infestation. After contacting management with this new bit of info (that it seems they knew about but were hiding) they FINALLY decided to treat the units. However, the gentleman in question apparently has had the issue SINCE LAST SUMMER and his infestation has gotten so out of hand that the bedbugs started to spread to adjoining units. He claims that, at first, he thought they were fleas brought in by his outdoor cat.

    So my family and I followed the exterminator's directions (same guy with the dog that didn't find anything) and we bought mattress protectors, bagged up our stuff, etc. etc. However, after 3 treatments, we're still finding bugs in our apartment, again in places like the kitchen and the bathroom. As recently as last week, we've found one on our mattress. Not cool. Our lease is up at the end of June and the issue still doesn't seem like it's under control. We plan to move and do not want to take these bugs with us. We also considering discarding our furniture, which will cost thousands to replace. I am furious that the property manager sat idly by and let this issue get so out of control, even though we and apparently other neighbors were reporting the issue. Keep in mind, they refused to inspect the other units when we reported several sightings because we were the only ones at the time reporting them. At this point, it seems apparent that the bugs are in the structure of the building and may take a while to get rid of.

    We've been paying our rent in full still (unlike other neighbors who are refusing to do so until the issue is resolved) but I'm also thinking there must be some legal recourse to this issue. Thoughts?

  16. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu May 25 2017 23:01:40
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    I am really sorry about how all this has gone down for you. It does sound like the problem originated with the neighbor and that he has such a serious problem the bed bugs keep coming.

    You may have a legal case, but you'd really have to talk to a lawyer or legal advisors (ideally locally). Anyone giving legal advice on an internet forum is likely not qualified to give legal advice.

    You may find information here on some recent bed bug lawsuits helpful. There's also information at the bottom on how to find a lawyer including low cost legal assistance.

  17. Cheezwiz

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri May 26 2017 0:11:26
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    Sorry to hear you're going through this. I may be in a similar situation, although luckily, where I live, the landlord is responsible for exterminator costs.

    I've lived in my apartment for the past two years without any problems, and just a few days ago, I happened to find a bed-bug running around in my bathtub. Weird and somewhat ironic, since common advice is always to store your luggage in the bathtub when staying in hotels!

    My mattress, boxspring, coverlet & blankets all appear to be clean with no obvious signs of activity.

    Despite the bizarre discovery location, the owner is adamant that it couldn't have possibly have come from another suite, so I doubt that he will agree to inspect adjoining suites. I had a look at our regional tenancy branch website and they had posted a few examples of arbitration of tenancy disputes involving bedbugs. I was dismayed to find that landlords are not obligated in any way to request inspection of adjoining suites, even when repeated infestations occur in an apartment without explanation. They are also not obligated to disclose whether or not adjoining suites have been inspected to the tenant who is suffering. So basically they can put their heads in the sand, endlessly treat an apartment that complains, and ignore everything else. This enrages me.

    There are also no laws to compel tenants who may have an infestation to submit to an inspection. They can refuse entry. So a landlord who is trying to be pro-active and conscientious, can also be hamstrung.

    Reading that along with your post has made me realize that once an inspection (and, if necessary treatment) is done that I'll have to approach, at minimum my adjoining neighbours. I live in a brutally expensive city with a near zero vacancy rate, so I'm reluctant to antagonize my building owner, but this is too important to let slide.

    There is still so much stigma, and this prevents neighbours from cooperating with each other.


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