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How to handle informing neighboring apartments?

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  1. bedoozled

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Sep 10 2013 10:17:28
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    Hi all!

    I recently posted a (very long and in-depth) account of the trials and tribulations of my sister's and my bedbug experience, looking for advice about what to do now (9 months into the problem, which seems to have come to a standstill) - the biggest part of our problem is that our bedbugs are really the bedbugs from the apartment directly beneath ours, so no matter how thoroughly we eradicate them from our apartment, they keep coming back.

    Part of our new plan (in addition to contacting HPD, attempting to put more pressure on management, and remaining prepared and vigilant ourselves) is informing the apartments neighboring and adjoining the one below ours, the current "source" of the issue.

    We want to let the tenants in these 7 apartments know of the current situation, so that they can request an inspection or treatment if they want, and (hopefully) aid us in putting pressure on the management to resolve the problem.

    What we're not sure of is how to word this - basically, do we implicate the source apartment, 5B (the tenants of which are very clearly not interested in dealing with their problem), as a clear and straightforward statement of fact, OR, does that risk some kind of public shaming, and should we just generally state that there's a risk for infestation in the A/B/C lines??

    Any advice on how to handle this situation delicately but decisively would be very appreciated! In an ideal world, where the bugs are eventually beaten, my sister and I would like to stay on at our apartment, so we've been trying very hard not to step on any toes along the way.

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Sep 10 2013 12:55:52
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    If you're going to alert your neighbors that you have bed bugs and you suspect others do too, that could be helpful.

    I would be very cautious about naming a "source" apartment.

    First, it's possible to be wrong about the source. (We've seen that before.) If all units haven't been inspected, you really can't be sure there isn't another with a worse problem.

    Second, given that fact, you may be defaming someone. And yes, even if it is true, you're shaming them and it could lead to others acting out against them (which would be bad whether the allegation is correct or not). It also discourages people from coming forward because they may fear being ostracized ("what if my problem is worse?")

    So let go of the blame and stress that everyone is entitled to get treatment and can live in a bed bug free building if everyone works together. If there is a "ground zero" type situation and a non-cooperative neighbor, the landlord will have recourse to do something about that.

    Since it sounds like you're in NYC, please read this post. It goes through the way the city responds to official reports -- including what happens when multiple neighbors report bed bugs (which are confirmed as violations).

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

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Sep 11 2013 17:23:27
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    @nobugsonme - thank you! I was leaning towards making it a more vague "bed bugs, beware" style note, but I wanted to see if people felt it were important to know where (to the best of our knowledge over the past 9 months) to problem seems to be coming from. But I think you're right, so we'll inform the apartments accordingly And I am in NYC - thank you for that link!

    On a related note, I was actually wondering - what recourse does the landlord have, when there's a "'ground zero' type situation and a non-cooperative neighbor"??

  4. good bug dead bug

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed Sep 18 2013 2:10:23
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    Having just dealt with a similar set of circumstances I felt obliged to make an account just to offer my insights

    What my fiance and I did was knock on our neighbors doors (7 total) and simply inform them that we'd found bed bugs in our apartment and that they should inspect their beds very closely because odds are they were in the building.

    This was the day after we had a PCO come out and tell us that after he sprayed the bugs were going to be scrambling into adjacent apartments so we kind of felt the need to warn the neighbors what might be heading their way.

    There is nothing to be gained by speculating on the source of the bugs. You could only expose yourself legally by doing so, even if you are correct.

    Simply inform your suspected "source" of the bugs the same way you inform all the other neighbors, their reaction will be telling (it was in my case).

    But in the end the source really doesn't matter, if there are more than 2 infested units in a building then it's the landlord's responsibility to pay for the cost of treatment in NYC/NJ and some other states.

    IF the suspected source tenant is uncooperative regarding making accommodations for treatment the landlord would have the option of A)Evicting the tenant for violating the terms of the lease (it's almost certainly stated in the lease that the tenant will cooperate by granting access to the unit with proper notice and proper cause) or B)Forcing the tenant to pay any costs that arise (the need for additional treatments in other apartments, etc) from their failure to cooperate with the landlord/management's eradication efforts.

    In our case it was well worth the trouble of informing our neighbors because it prompted the landlord to spring for a more effective heat treatment rather than round after round of pesticide sprayings.

    Full disclosure: This approach did eventually require us to retain an attorney because it upset the landlord to the point that he tried to illegally evict us but it led to our building being properly treated so we're happy!

  5. bedoozled

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Thu Sep 19 2013 10:45:05
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    @good bug dead bug Thank you for this! That result would be a dream come true for us, although I'm worried that a) the problem tenants (whether the "source" or not they have a serious infestation that they refuse to admit or deal with - confirmed by ourselves, the super, the management, and the building's extermination company) may prove a more stubborn difficulty and b) that our management will just never get in gear, no matter the pressure, to do a heat treatment in all the affected/adjacent apartments, to really solve the problem. But we've put 9 months of time, effort, and money into this so far, so we'll certainly keep trying - starting with knocking on those doors!


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