• Bed Bugs! How to Protect the Apartment Unit from Damage
  • October 10, 2012 | Author: S. Joshua Kahane
  • Law Firm: Glankler Brown, PLLC - Memphis Office
  • Bed bugs infest every type of housing, from run-down single-room-occupancy hotels to elegant condominiums —getting rid of them can be extremely difficult.  Bedbugs have raised a thicket of questions for multi-family managers and owners concerning the scope of their responsibility and limits of their liability. 

    What are Bedbugs?

    The common bedbug is a reddish-brown, flattened, oval, wingless insect that can grow to three-sixteenths of an inch. Females live as long as a year in colder temperatures and several months in temperate climates. Males don’t live quite as long; the population is evenly divided between the sexes.

    The female bedbug can lay up to five eggs a day, and several hundred over its lifetime. At room temperature, the eggs hatch in 7 to 14 days into tiny nymphs no bigger than a speck of dust. The nymphs go through five life stages, taking a blood meal each time, before molting one last time into adulthood.

    Bedbugs are mostly active at night, with peak activity around 3 or 4 a.m. Drawn by warmth and carbon dioxide, they pierce the skin and withdraw blood for about 5 minutes before retreating to a hiding place. They typically feed every 7 to 10 days, although some have survived for more than a year without a meal. They are not known to transmit disease.

    How do Bedbugs get into an apartment?

    Suitcases and used furnishings are thought to be key vehicles for introducing bedbugs into a building; once inside, they are quite mobile.

    Below are the ten general recommendations made by Techletter.com to help prevent and control bed bugs in apartment buildings. Other actions may be required depending on conditions at the property and the extent of the infestation.

    1. Use pest control companies that are experienced with bed bug control in apartments. Get references for specific bed bug jobs and check those references. The cost will be higher than you expect but effective companies will be charging enough to do the extensive work necessary to control bed bugs.

    2. Be proactive. As soon as the first bed bug problem is reported and verified, assume that there are more and act aggressively.

    3. Whenever a new bed bug infestation is identified, the apartments on either side next door, and above and below need to be inspected for bed bugs. A new infestation may be overflow from a severe infestation in a nearby apartment with a resident who does not want to report their infestation for some reason.

    4. Every apartment that has been serviced for bed bugs should be rescheduled for inspection and treatment as necessary within 2-4 weeks.

    5. If a property experiences bed bug infestations scattered in different parts of a building or in multiple buildings, the infestation is likely widespread. Have the pest control contractor inspect all apartments for bed bug problems during regular rotary service.

    6. If a property has widespread bed bug problems, every apartment will have to be inspected and treated as necessary.

    7. Residents scheduled for an initial or major bed bug service need to prepare by stripping their beds, completely emptying all closets, dressers, and nightstands, washing all clothing and linens and placing them inside plastic bags or bins in the living room, and then vacuuming before service. This must be done to eliminate bed bugs in clothes and possessions,  and to provide access for treatment.

    8. Provide pest control service in all vacant units as soon as tenants leave.

    9. When a new resident is scheduled to move in, provide guidance on how to make sure they don’t bring pests with them to their new home. Inspect the apartment for bed bug problems 30 days after they move in and provide pest control service as necessary.

    10.  Residents of infested apartments should be asked to buy special bed bug proof mattress covers and put them on mattresses and box springs after treatment. The covers trap any bed bugs hidden inside the mattress and box spring so that they can’t come out and bite. They will eventually die. The covers also prevent any new bugs from finding hiding places in mattresses and box springs.