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ZedStarchild

Bedbug Problem i am Not Responsible For

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Hello, I am a tenant on SSDI who has been leasing an apartment since March 2015. IN the month of November I was informed I have bedbugs as per an inspection I had prior notice of. I had neither seen nor been bitten or had any evidence that I could discern of bedbugs at this time. My rental agreement signed March provided an addendum on bedbugs, and according to that if I knowingly brought in bedbugs I would be responsible for reporting this problem and would be responsible for paying to exterminate. I neither knowingly brought them in nor had seen evidence to report them in the required 48 hour grace period. In fact, I had just returned from being out of town for almost two weeks and at that time had no issues and only when I returned (and no one besides management had access to my apartment in that time) was there any issue brought to my attention. I was then informed there would be a "heat treatment" done to exterminate these bugs though no one could give me, or would give me any idea when. I was quoted by my property manager the price would be $600 which she said I would have to pay, contrary to what my lease says.(Later on she claimed it would be $835 and denied ever quoting me the $600 figure, yet my mother who serves as my payee for SSDI and handles my finances was there the time the $600 figure was quoted and is thus a witness. I was told this could be broken up into payments but again, I am on a fixed income and am paying $650 in rent (which was supposed to be $597 originally but this is another issue) and I make $750 a month ($834 gross but I have had money taken out for an outstanding student loan since 2012; management was aware of this). I cannot afford any type of payment and furthermore as per the terms of my lease I should not be responsible. Based on my subsequent research on bedbugs (which I had no experience with before this) I am now aware they can lay dormant for a full year before feeding and reproducing. Therefore it is conceivable they could have been here in a dormant state a year previous, at which time I not only did not live here, but didn't even live in this city. I feel I am being railroaded and harassed to make payments for a solution to an issue I did not create. My lease is up February 29 and my trust and working relationship with management is so low I refuse to renew my lease, and in fact for other reasons may be leaving town altogether. What scares me is that if they continue to pursue this, and out of principle and financial lack of resources I refuse/cannot pay, this will be a serious black mark on my rental history and I will not be able to rent anywhere else in the future. I need to somehow prevent this but I do not know what my rights are or how to go about it. I have tried contacting legal aid in my area; they are severely backlogged and cannot attend to my issues and concerns. While I could go down in person to talk to legal aid, my mental disability leads me to be very confused, overwhelmed and a frequent victim of panic attacks and I would need someone with me. At present I have no one who can go with me to do this. I could utilize my case management through my mental health provider, some suggest, but they have also been ineffective in matters even relating to my mental health let alone anything like this. I am in desperate need of some advice. Please help.

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Others with more experience will no doubt respond but I wanted to tell you I hear you!  I'm in my third battle with bed bugs.

 

If it comes down to an eviction proceeding, bring your lease and any proof that you were out of town.  You don't say how many apartments there are where you live, but if you can get 'proof' of where the greatest concentration of bugs were, ground zero, you will support your claim that you were not the responsible party.

 

Here in New Jersey we have the Homelessness Prevention Program.  When I had to have the exterminator in over the summer, I applied for emergency assistance through them as I could not pay both my rent and the exterminator.  Perhaps you have such a program there.  If you are receiving SSI, they may be able to help.

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Hello, I am so very sorry to read of this situation. I have been there..I didn't bring them in, I was told I was to do the exterminating myself with Diatamaceous Earth. I am physically disabled.

You NEED to get your case manager involved, your landlord is not going to do a dang thing to help you if you don't get some kind of backup for yourself. I had Sectin 8 at the time, I called them. They came in and investigated. Section 8, a Federal program TOLD THE LANDLORD he needed to have the whole building PROFESSIONALLY treated, he REFUSED. Section 8 said that in order for me to keep the section 8, I would need to move as the apartment was no longer habitable. So I had to move.

 

Being I had no idea where all the bugs were, I had to throw out EVERYTHING I had. I am 53 yrs old, and I had my whole life 4 years ago. I left the apartment with bare minimum. I could not risk carrying a single bug with babies into my new apartment. Thankfully, with A LOT OF WORK, I did it.

 

This is not going to be an easy issue to deal with. You will need LEGAL Aid. No matter if your case manager has not done great in the past, you are going to need someone. It is the LAW that if you did not bring in the bugs, it is the LANDLORDS responsibility to exterminate. The landlord needs to have the apartment in habitable conditions and an infestation of bed bugs does not meet those conditions. You must get this resolved somehow...VERY QUICKLY. They breed fast, grow fast, and before you know it they are in all your furniture, and in your walls, light sockets...etc....many are so small you will never see them. That is why I threw out everything I owned. I filled a three bedroom apartment. I couldn't fill one room when I left. But, I did it, and I am now bug free.

 

I actually sued my landlord over his negligence. I did not win all the money I needed, but my point was made and I did win. He actually filed an appeal, but the previous Judge's decision stood. I was the first in the county to ever do this. And yes, I managed to get the lousy 1500.00 I was awarded by asking for a supoena to start wage garnishment. He sent the money within a week. But he still went ahead with the appeal and lost. It took a lot of work and tears and frustration to win in court, but it felt so good when I did. So I set a precedence on how bed bugs are handled in court cases with negligent landlords.The landlord was also serving on the village board in the small village I lived in ....I didn't care, he made my life a living hell by not taking care of the issue when the tenants below me brought them in. It took about 7 months for them to find their way to my apartment, so It definitely can take a year. I had to box up any personal effects for 2 years to be sure they were gone. I mean like Christmas ornaments, and a few precious things that could never be replaced. It was a lot of work. I lived in a small town, the court room was FILLED TO THE BRIM with other cases. It's been said in small towns word spreads fast...this is true. I was so glad it was filled, by the end of the day, everyone knew what kind of landlord this man was..and I didn't have to work at that...it was free! LOLOL

 

PLEASE CALL YOUR CASE MANAGER. Get on this ASAP, you can't do this alone if you have problems understanding. I had to learn a lot to do what I did.

 

I wish you the best of luck, don't put this off. Bed bugs don't play, they infestate.

A bug hater forever

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