Is Your Apartment Infested with Bed Bugs?

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Does Your Apartment Have Bed Bugs?


A couple of weeks ago I had dozens of bites showing up on my arms and legs.  I have sensitive skin, so I switched laundry detergent thinking that I was somehow having a reaction to the soap– but then I saw a tiny little bug… that’s where my bed bug problem all started.
When I approached my landlord about treating the apartment complex, he refused and immediately tried to hold me responsible for treating my apartment for bed bugs.  I didn’t think that was right.  Luckily my professor referred me to the RPA and explained that the best option would be to start with a formal complaint.  So, I did. (Problem is now solved!!)
I wanted to create a post to help other tenants suffering with a bed bug infested Apartment: (so here’s my experience)
Do you have bed bugs?
Look for signs to determine if you have bed bugs.  Everyone reacts differently to their bites.  I found some research that indicated that some people have little to no reaction to bed bug bites (lucky for them).
Indications of Bed Bug Presence:
How to check for bed bugs
  • Visual Search: Check around the seams of your mattress closely.  Look for rust colored spots or stains.  (If stains are found, you most likely have bed bugs)  You should also inspect floor boards, behind paintings or other wall hangings, and bed post.
  • Smell / Odor: If you have an acute sense of smell, you can also detect bed bugs by smelling for a sweet musty odor.  Special K-9 (dogs) have been trained to identify this smell. Depending on the level of infestation, you can detect the odor too.
  • Neighbors: Most people will not come out and say they have bed bugs… pretty much social suicide.  BUT, you can be creative and pay attention to your neighbors; specifically look at their arms for indications of rashes or bites.  Remember, infestations are common to be located around a host… meaning that it is very possible that ONLY one family member is effected by the bed bugs. (Be casual about this… probably not wise to bring it up in conversation)
  • Personal: The most common way is most likely from your own body… are you waking up with a rash or series of bites?
What do Bed Bugs Look Like?
Now I could just tell you that bed bugs are bout 4mm big and have an amber color, but instead I though I would find some pictures for you.  If you’re lucky enough to spot a bed bug, you can identify it by looking at the following pictures:  (Courteous of Wikipedia, thank you)
Adult Apartment Bed Bug
Baby Bed Bug


How to get rid of bed bugs
DO NOT DO THE FOLLOWING:
  • Panic! No need to panic.  You’re going to get through this.  Take a deep breath, exhale.
  • Sleep on the Couch: NO NO NO!!!  Fight the urge to run away to another room, they will follow you and infest that area too.  Bed bugs detect our breath and body heat, so no hiding is impossible.  STAY PUT!!
  • Move: Again, can’t run.  You MUST treat the infestation before moving.  Bed bugs lay tiny eggs that stick to nearly any surface… if you move, you will bring the infestation with you.
  • Treat Yourself! I know, you’re tempted to go to the home depot and buy some bug bomb or bed bug spray … these will not kill bed bugs but can cause them to become irritated and spread deeper into walls, and other rooms.  Treatment needs to be done by a bed bug removal company.  (even general pest removal companies can make the problem worse.  Only use a company that really knows how to deal with bed bugs.
  • No Chemicals! Chemical treatments are not very effective.  Avoid using them, not only are they toxic to you and your family, they only kill the adult bed bugs.  Eggs are not effected by sprays, thus if you have treated with chemicals… in a few days you will see the bites return as new eggs hatch.
DO THE FOLLOWING( Get Rid Of Bed Bugs Yourself)
  • STAY PUT!: Yes, you’ll have to remain in the infested room… otherwise the infestation will spread through the apartment.
  • RELAX: Bed bugs are not known to pass disease.  Still not fun.  There have been studies that long-term effects can cause anemia, infection (from scratching) and in extremely rare cases could cause anaphylactic shock in people sensitive to the proteins found in bed bug saliva.
  • DO SOMETHING: If you do nothing, the infestation will only get worse.  Time to react is now!
  • MOVE BED: Pull the bed away from the wall.  Move night stands or furniture so that they are not touching the bed or frame.  Pull up covers so that they are not touching floor, walls, or furniture.  This can greatly reduce the bites of bed bugs.  If you suspect the bed bugs have infested your bed, you can saran wrap the entire mattress.  (make sure is is tight and use lots of layers)  You can also try sprinkling some “Thyme” (seasoning) on your bed.  It won’t kill the bed bugs, but can cut down the bites.  (they hate thyme– but so do I!)
  • TREAT THE ITCH: There are many ways to treat your skin… for my I made a paste out of baking soda and water.  Then apply to the effected areas and immediately, itch gone!
  • PREPARE UNIT: You can reduce the amounts of bed bug bites by washing bedding (don’t forget all blankets)  BUT, make sure to dry on high heat for at least an hour.  Vacuum around walls, bed post, bed seams, and floors.  Clean and pick up clutter on floor.  (make the unit spotless and vacuum frequently)
Who is Responsible For Bed Bug Treatment Cost?
Most likely, after approaching your landlord you will immediately get frustrated.  Many times landlords will attempt to hold tenants responsible for treatment cost.  In fact, I read of cases where tenants have contacted the landlord about bed bugs just to be forced to pay for treatment by their own treatment company.  (many times costing $800 to $2000)  Then, if you don’t pay– you get evicted.  Luckily, after I went my landlord I researched the topic and got some great advice.  The best advice came from my law professor who told me how landlords are responsible to provide a habitable apartment.  Landlords renting out an apartment that is infested by bed bugs can be in breach of the implied habitability warranty which requires landlords to provide a safe livable unit.  Bed bugs are classified as parasites, so unlike other infestations; bed bugs are even more a breach of implied warranty of habitability than other bugs.  With that said, it is clear that landlords are fully responsible for bed bug treatment.  (However, if you feel like you were responsible for the infestation… then ethically, you should be somewhat responsible.  It could be possible that you moved from a previously infested apartment, or that you stayed in an infested motel.) My professor referred me to the Rental Protection Agency and told me that in a bed bug case it’s best to create a legal paper trail as soon as possible and recommended that I immediately file a complaint to establish a formal paper trail and documentation.  So, that’s what I did.
Filing a Bed Bug Complaint:
Filing a complaint with the RPA allowed me to document the bed bug problem before my landlord could attempt to place me at fault.  Here is the process:
  1. FILE COMPLAINT: Fill out the Bed Bug Complaint form located here: https://www.rentalprotectionagency.com/complaint_center_form.php
  2. Get Your CASE NUMBER: After paying the $35 Filing Fee  (no other required fee) you will get a case number and immediate access to the online complaint management page.  Side Note: I did include 2 upgrades to my case: Certified ($18) and Bonded Copy of Completed Case ($9)  The certified case requires landlord to sign for the paper work sent to your landlord from the RPA.  The Bonded Copy sent me an official copy of mycase.  Those are optional, but that’s what I did.  Once you pay the filing
  3. Check CASE STATUS: Once you’ve filed your complaint, the RPA will assign a dedicated mediator to handle the complaint and to negotiate a fair agreement.  (Yes, its legally binding)  You can and should check the case status every few days.  After my landlord received the legal paperwork from the RPA, they immediately agreed to provide heat treatment at their cost.  (I say immediately, I took 2 days for them to propose the solution.  They were allowed 3 days, just FYI)  Its now been 2 months since I filed my complaint.  Today, my apartment is free from bed bugs.  I do credit all of this to my Professor he directed me to the RPA.  Thank you.
  4. CASE CLOSED: Once an agreement is reached the RPA will close the case and attach it to the public record database.  Now, because my landlord was prompt to resolve my bed bug problem; I requested that the complaint record be removed from record.  I was happy with the end result and had no real intentions to harm my landlords image.
I know how stressful it is to have an apartment with bed bugs.  I hope my experience can help others struggling with this exact process.  I’m so glad there are programs out there to protect tenants rights.  All the best!
Ronnie Gustin
Law Student (USC | Law School)
(I’m not an bar licensed lawyer.  The above info
was based upon my experience and not intended
as legal advice.)



Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Edited on: Friday, March 11th, 2011 12:38 pm
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