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Bed Bugs – A Better Solution

A Win Win Solution for Bed Bug Control

The other day I had a Eureka! moment. I was considering several points. I wrote a post about Bed Bugs a little while ago.

  1. We need to create incentive for buildings to spray ASAP

  2. We need to punish buildings that won’t spray

  3. We need to provide incentive and not punish those buildings that are proactive because it’s not their fault

  4. We need to inform the renting public

  5. We cannot rely on buildings who have to rent apartments to pay their mortgages to tell people they have bedbugs or give them a paper saying they have bedbugs.

Then it came to me! We already have a system similar to this in place to deal with pest control problems and unsafe unsanitary conditions in Restaurants. There is a posted notice as you come in the door of every restaurant declaring that the restaurant complies with Public Health Regulations. We could do the exact same thing with buildings. A notice would have to be posted right at the entrance door to the building. People are even familiar with this system already. In this way buildings who deal with problems immediately will not be penalized. If a problem is discovered or reported to public health, the status of the building is changed until the problem is rectified. In this way buildings who don’t deal with problems are severely penalized and those who deal with the bedbugs are not.

Truth about Pest Control

Every property manager knows that the war with pests is continual and on-going. Five years is an awfully long time in pest control. Bedbugs are becoming just as endemic as cockroaches. The idea that almost every building in Toronto won’t at some point get bedbugs is naive. Here’s the deal – getting the bedbugs is not shameful, it appears that even a trip to the hospital will get you bedbugs these days. The problem is harboring them, giving them a place to grow and infecting other units. A good example of this kind of negligence is this building 200 Dufferin Street. This building has 10 reports of bedbugs.

So how can we best deal with this issue?

I used to manage a property in Oshawa that did get bedbugs in their units. I had to spray and spray and spray. It cost a fortune. The owner was not happy because he had nothing to do with introducing the bedbugs yet he got to pay for it. The tenant was great and did everything required to get rid of them. Believe me it’s a lot of work. She also had to do it three times before the bedbugs were evicted. So I have actually seen a bedbug unlike most of the people who are involved in talking about bedbugs.

Here’s the Renter’s Right To Know Act. It’s a little wee bit of change to the Residential Tenancies Act. It requires Landlord to tell prospective tenants about any bedbugs where they are going to move in and any problems for the last five years.

I understand where Mike Colle is going with this issue. He wants people who are moving into a place about bedbugs before they move in. This makes a lot of sense. When you get bedbugs if you are lucky enough to get sprayed if the building management will even do it, you usually have to throw away your mattress and your sofa because nothing except for heat treatment will work to kill the bedbugs hiding inside these items. That’s very expensive.

Here’s the problem, landlords are also supposed to give out the Tenant Information Package and they don’t. No one is really checking. I do give it out with every one of my leases, it’s stupid to think that tenants don’t know about the Landlord & Tenant Board so giving them a piece of paper doesn’t change a thing. Building who lie and “forget” about giving tenants the bedbug report are going to do much better than buildings who tell the truth.

Affordable Buildings

The next issue is who is going to pay for all this really expensive spraying, throwing out of furniture and unit preparation? This is a public health issue and buildings specifically the ones who provide affordable housing just won’t be able to afford it. Bed bugs don’t care if you have money or not. They care if you have blood they can suck. The spraying of one unit for bedbugs three times cost $750. We even changed pest control companies. Our regular pest control company was going to charge us $900 per spraying with no guarantees. For somewhat affordable bed bug treatment Reliable Pest Control is the least expensive I know of.

Private affordable housing will need help to deal with this issue. People on Ontario Works will also need help getting new furniture and paying to launder all their clothes multiple times. These people are on a budget where they can’t even buy proper food never mind replace all their furniture and mattresses or even buy encasement for their mattresses.

There’s a condo on Harbour-front that had to spray the entire seventh floor but their monthly maintenance fee is more than the rent for some buildings. Without some proper solutions for funding the debugging of these buildings bedbugs are going to stick around. Needless to say the more there are the more they spread.

So that’s my proposal. Signage at the front door just like every single restaurant and funding for affordable housing and tenants who can’t afford to deal with the bed bugs.

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