Recently Chicago gained the dubious distinction of the number one bed bug city in the US.
They aren’t taking it lying down.
Local aldermen are planning to introduce legislation that will declare bed bugs a public nuisance. Landlords would be required to hire professional exterminators to eliminate infestations. If the landlord does not comply, he or she could be fined $1000 per day. And bed bug infested units could not be rented out to new tenants.
At ZappBug, we appreciate that city officials are taking the problem very seriously. The best way to handle bed bugs is to immediately attack infestations as soon as they are suspected.
The longer you wait, the more chance of the infestation growing and spreading to other units in an apartment building. (Bed bugs can travel through wall voids and electrical conduits to infest other units.)
There are a lot of responsible landlords out there who are very proactive about dealing with bed bugs. But, unfortunately, there are a lot who are not–we sometimes hear from customers about those landlords. And we have even heard stories of unscrupulous landlords renting out apartment units that already have a suspected bed bug problem, which is a terrible thing to do to someone.
Legislation like this has the potential to make landlords step up to the plate.
The proposed legislation requires using a pest control professional, and although we can see the logic behind that, we do feel some hesitation and see a couple of potential problems.
The quality of pest control professionals varies greatly. People might assume that just calling in a professional will solve the problem, but unfortunately that is just not true.
Getting rid of a bed bug infestation is challenging. It’s not enough to just spray pesticides. Some pest control professionals are extremely knowledgable about bed bugs and can help the customer a lot with doing everything that is necessary to get rid of bed bugs.
But unfortunately, we’ve heard stories of less conscientious pest control professionals who don’t give customers all the information they need, or even provide downright incorrect information, or use extermination methods with limited effectiveness.
(If you are looking for a good pest control professional to help with an infestation, we have a referral service to line you up with a ZappBug approved pest control professional. Click here for more information. )
Another hesitation we feel is that it is possible for a landlord who has deeply educated himself or herself to actually do all the bed bug elimination himself or herself, including spraying pesticides. This legislation requires hiring a professional, but what if the landlord could do as good or better job than the professional?
We know of one landlord in Seattle, who had a bed bug problem in one of his apartment units. He did all the spraying himself and took all additional steps that were necessary. In fact, he proactively dealt with all the apartments throughout the building to make sure the problem did not spread.
This landlord did as thorough a job as any professional possibly could and, in fact, did a lot more than many professionals would.
Admittedly, that landlord is more the exception than the rule. Most landlords are not going to put in the time and energy to become experts and then put in the hard work to actually eliminate the bed bugs.
So in general, we do think those Chicagoan alderman have the right idea in taking the problem very seriously. And maybe it’s even a good idea to require using professional exterminators. But we also want to point out that such legislation is not a magic bullet, given how challenging bed bug infestations are.
Posted by Andrew Havlis