Table of Contents
- 1 The bed bug behavior
- 2 How bed bugs spread in an apartment building
- 3 Signs that your apartment has bed bugs
- 4 Identifying bed bugs
- 5 Who’s responsible for the bed bugs?
- 6 Who pays for the extermination?
- 7 It’s you’re right to know the unit’s bed bug history
- 8 What to do if you suspect a bed bug infestation
- 9 Challenges of professional bed bug control in apartments
- 10 Landlord insisting on treating the problem with in-house janitorial service
- 11 Final words
Help! There are bed bugs in my apartment building! Having bed bugs within an apartment building is like a cold virus within an airplane cabin. It can spread like a plague without your knowledge. And with bed bugs reproducing faster than rabbits, your unit will be caught in the cross-fire. Worse, your own apartment will become the harborage of these pests.
The bed bug behavior
Bed bugs are nocturnal bloodsuckers that will pester your home. These pests don’t spare kids and even pets.
The thing with bed bugs is they reproduce in staggering numbers. A female bed bug can lay up to 1 to 5 eggs a day or an average of 500 new bed bugs on its lifetime. New female bed bugs will continue to reproduce once it reaches adulthood, making it a ceaseless process until proper extermination is done.
Also, bed bugs tend to hide in places where humans stay during the night. It’s the reason why they are commonly found in mattresses, headboards, nightstands, and pieces of furniture that stand near your bed.
The biggest challenge with a bed bug infestation is if it occurs in an apartment building. Since walls only separate the units, the bugs can easily invade homes.
Bed bugs travel at an average of three to four feet per minute. It will only take weeks for the bugs to spread on different floors and faster within the units on specific floors.
Take note that bed bugs are very resilient pests and they can survive up to 18 months without feeding. This is more than enough time for them to transfer to a new unit and creep into your skin.
How bed bugs spread in an apartment building
There’s a myriad of possibilities on how bed bugs transfer from one unit to another. The first way is literally entering your door. By simply traveling on foot, bed bugs can reach a new unit in a matter of days.
Another possible bed bug vehicle is hand-me-down furniture. If your neighbor is giving you any piece of furniture, it’s best to have it treated before placing it inside your apartment.
Also, borrowed clothes, luggage, old mattresses, and other textiles can transfer bed bugs into your apartment.
If you just recently visited a bed bug-infested unit, the bugs can stick to your clothes or shoes. They will drop off in your apartment once you come home.
Also, if a unit within the apartment building used a bed bug bomb, the pests will seek refuge to other units.
Signs that your apartment has bed bugs
If you woke up one day filled with red itchy bites, there’s a chance that your apartment has bed bugs. Still, before you jump into conclusions, you should know that fleas and ticks also bite humans. If you have a dog, you should rule out this part first.
Bed bug bites usually appear in rows of three bites. It’s the infamous breakfast-lunch-dinner bite. Here are more tell-tale signs that you’re facing a bed bug infestation:
*Blood droplets on your sheets or mattress
*Dark tiny spots, which are droppings of bed bugs after feeding
*Tiny crawling insects
*Bites around the neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and back
Take note that just because you do not see the bed bugs doesn’t mean they’re not present. These insects are nocturnal and they will hide in tiny crevices during the day.
Identifying bed bugs
Bed bugs that haven’t fed yet will have a flat and oval body. Unlike other insect pests, they are wingless and they can’t jump.
Usually, adult bed bugs will be about a quarter-inch long almost similar to an apple seed. Take note that the nymphs or younger bed bugs will have a lighter color. Sometimes, it’s almost transparent.
Who’s responsible for the bed bugs?
The leading question that surfaces during an apartment building bug infestation is this: who’s responsible for it? Is it me or my landlord?
Basically, both you and your landlord have responsibilities in the infestation. You’re the tenant and you’ve probably played a role in the spread of the pest.
And as the owner, it’s your landlord’s job to ensure that the units are conducive for comfortable living.
*Your responsibility as the tenant
As the inhabitant of the unit, your number one responsibility is to report the infestation to your landlord right away. Your landlord will be the one to hire the exterminator to treat the unit. Take note that since you’re living in a residential building and not a landed house, you can’t avail any treatment without your landlord’s knowledge.
Also, once your landlord sets a treatment date, it’s your responsibility to prepare your apartment. The exterminator may recommend that you vacate the premises for a few days until the treatment has settled. In some cases when the bed bug infestation is widespread, the landlord may decide to have the whole building treated in one go.
Take note that your landlord isn’t responsible for finding you a temporary home during the treatment.
Before and after the treatment, you should keep the following points in mind:
*Never throw away your old mattress. Unless you plan to purchase a new bed, you can still use your old mattress. Just use a bed bug encasement and you’re good to go.
*Never transfer any item to a new apartment. It’s never a good idea to transfer any furniture to a new apartment before the treatment. If you do this, you’ll just spread the infestation to a new place
*Wash all your fabrics. After the treatment, it’s best to wash all your clothes, sheets, and textiles. This is to remove any dead or surviving bugs. Also, your clothes could’ve been exposed to the chemical treatment.
*The responsibility of your landlord
Most states require landlords to keep their rental properties in a good and habitable condition. A bed bug infestation will deem a unit inhabitable; thus, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to find a solution.
Your landlord will hire the exterminator and inspector for the infestation. This is a crucial part since landlords would want to know who actually introduced the bugs.
Regardless of who’s at fault, your landlord should be part of the eradication process. Be it hiring the exterminator or assisting you on the treatment.
Who pays for the extermination?
This is another question we often receive from tenants. Take note that your landlord is responsible for paying for the extermination if you found out about the infestation even before you move in.
Also, if other tenants are at fault, the landlord may shoulder the expenses or take that other tenant accountable. However, expect that your landlord may exhaust all means to find the possibility of you being the culprit.
Professional exterminators can trace the bugs’ source (though it can be very difficult). If they prove that it’s you who introduced the pest to the unit, you’ll have to pay for the treatment. Also, renter’s insurance doesn’t cover this situation because it falls under ‘preventable damage’.
But what if there are bed bugs in my apartment building and my landlord won’t fix it? Here’s what you can do:
*Deduct the cost of extermination on your rental fees
*Getting out of your lease
*Withholding your rent until the landlord takes action
*Suing the landlord
Take note that you should always consult a lawyer before doing any of these steps. Also, most aggrieved tenants would just decide to pay for the extermination to skip the hassle of dealing with a reluctant landlord. The choice is yours to make.
It’s you’re right to know the unit’s bed bug history
It’s every tenant’s right to know if the unit or apartment building has a history of bed bug infestation. Many states require landlords and building owners to disclose fully every pest infestation that has happened on their property.
The biggest challenge here for landlords is that many potential tenants will back out of the lease even if proper measures were taken to eliminate the pest.
Even if the state doesn’t require such disclosure, it’s your right to ask about such information. Your landlord is obliged to answer it truthfully. Some tenants would even demand clawback clauses should they discover bed bugs upon moving in.
Take note that if a landlord misrepresents or fails to disclose an infestation as mandated by the state law, you have the option to sue them. It’s also a solid ground for you to break the lease without facing penalties.
What to do if you suspect a bed bug infestation
If your apartment unit or building is facing a bed bug infestation, you can take the following measures to mitigate the problem:
-Look for proof
Before anything else, you must establish evidence of the infestation. Take pictures and samples of the droppings or insects you see on your unit.
This will help the exterminators determine if it’s indeed a bed bug problem. Also, it will make a strong case for your landlord.
-Report it to your landlord
The day that you sustain the bed bug bites, you should report it right away to your employer. Delaying it will only reduce the chances of your landlord paying for the treatment. Somehow, they will suspect that you brought in the bugs.
-Don’t try to treat the bed bugs on your own
This is the golden rule if you live in an apartment building. Never treat any infestation on your own. Aside from the possibility of causing damages to the apartment, you may also compromise the safety of the nearby tenants.
If you hire an exterminator or used abrasive treatments for the bugs, your landlord may end up suing you for the damages.
Aside from that, involving your landlord in the picture gives you the possibility of saving money or breaking the lease early.
While your landlord sorts out the problem with an exterminator, you can try cleaning up. Vacuum your carpets, bed, and corners of your apartment.
Make sure that you dispose of the vacuumed bugs in a sealed bag. You can also add a Permethrin-based product on the vacuum bag before sucking in the pest. This substance will kill the bed bugs inside the bag. Also, most commercial Permethrin products are safe.
-Protect your self
If the bed bug treatment is scheduled in the coming days, you can shield your skin by using bed bug repellents. There are various sprays you can use to bed bug-proof your mattress.
For those who are planning to transfer to a hotel or another apartment for the meantime, it’s best to wear newly washed clothes. Also, don’t bring too many items with you as bed bugs could hitchhike on your bag.
Challenges of professional bed bug control in apartments
Take note that treating the bed bug infestation isn’t just a challenge for you and your landlord. The pest control company will also face some issues when it comes to apartment buildings.
First of all, you can’t contract just about any pest control company because your landlord would usually have a partner exterminator. Also, even if your landlord permits the treatment on your unit, the bed bugs will just creep back since the adjacent units won’t be treated simultaneously.
Landlord insisting on treating the problem with in-house janitorial service
“I have bed bugs in my apartment building and my landlord is insisting on calling the in-house janitorial service to fix it.”
Take note that most states only permit licensed pest control experts to handle the elimination of the pest and the usage of pesticides. If your landlord insists that an unlicensed janitorial service perform the treatment, you can file a complaint. This is illegal and unsafe for you and the other tenants.
This applies to all types of infestation, not just for bed bugs and other insects.
Heat treatments, pesticide application, and any non-chemical extermination methods should be performed by duly licensed extermination personnel only.
“I have bed bugs in my apartment building!” If you experience this same dilemma, the first step is to call your landlord. From there, you can take the necessary steps to protect your interest. If your landlord fails to take action, you can tap the help of a lawyer.
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