The thing about bedbugs is that the infestation in your apartment can build up over time without you realizing what is happening. That is, until one day, you wake up and find just too many bites on your arms, legs, and body.
Bedbugs are fairly small and in the early stages of having bedbugs it is not unusual to not see them. Generally nocturnal, you will not see bedbugs scurrying around in the day time and even if they are on the move they are small enough to miss unless you are looking for them.
How to treat for bedbugs is a matter of some debate---even among experts. I've heard lots of stories and there are treatments that people swear by that just seem downright odd. In my experience, being at the landlord and tenant board fairly often with bedbug cases, the only truly effective treatments are the ones carried out by professional and licenced pest control companies. The "do it yourself" remedies, if they do anything at all, simply knock down the populations to numbers that are not so intrusive on your daily life (i.e. you're not always covered in bites etc.). I've yet to hear of a truly successful do it yourself treatment. This is especially true in large apartment buildings where infestations of bedbugs tend to spread from unit to unit. This means that any treatment done in one unit will drive the bugs to neighbouring units and when the treatment is done they will slowly come back. Success requires treatment of all infested units.
The point of this article is to advise a tenant of what to do if they have bedbugs. The short answer is--- report it immediately to the landlord in writing and request professional treatment of the bedbugs. Having the landlord drop off a few cans of insecticide is NOT going to work.
If your landlord hires a professional exterminator you can expect to recieve a letter/form from the company advising you how to prepare your unit for treatment. Unfortunately, you will discover from the letter/form that there will be a fair amount of effort and expense on your part in getting ready for the treatment. One of the biggest costs is laundering pretty much everything in your apartment in hot water and then sealing the items in plastic bags until the infestation is eradicated.
Your landlord is indeed required to have your unit treated as part of the landlord's obligation to maintain the premises under the lease. Sometimes, the landlord will seek to impose the costs of pest control on a tenant as the landlord will blame the tenant for the infestation. Generally speaking, the costs of pest control can not be passed on to tenants or at least the Board is not awarding such costs as a matter of course. There are some exceptions of course, where intentional or negligent conduct on the part of a tenant can be demonstrated to have caused the infestation there is a stronger argument that the tenant should bear the cost of treatment. To date, those cases are rare as it is difficult to prove how a rental unit came to be infested.
Michael K. E. Thiele
Friday, 30 August 2013
Bedbugs in my Apartment--what do I do?
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