bedbugs and rent

Being a property owner has wonderful returns on your investment and can provide many rewards for retirement, but not when bed bugs are biting your tenants and pocketbook.  After all, tenants will come and go and you will still own the property (with or without bed bugs) anyway you look at it – it is your responsibility!

In today’s mix, property owners are strapped with the elimination of bed bugs regardless of who brought them in. It is part of owners’ responsibility to provide a safe habitable environment and is part of the Implied Warranty of Habitability.

What happens with repeated bed bug infestations is the financial outlay for services overwhelming the pocket books of these owners and leaving little to nothing as a return at the end of the year.

Out of sheer frustration and anger, the fingers start to point in every direction back at the tenant. After all, it isn’t the landlord bringing in bed bugs. Desperation to hold on to the year-end return causes them to create severe penalties to their tenants for having bed bugs.

They soon realize that this approach doesn’t work and it is then that they hand over poorly written, one-sided, Bed Bug Addendums holding their tenants responsible, increasing rents or threatening eviction, thinking that this is the solution.

They could not be more wrong using this type of strategy!

Number one problem is that now you automatically put your tenant on defense and they don’t want to tell you “if and when” they have bed bugs; which now sends them running to grab up anything that has bed bugs on the label to self-treat. Since the tenant knows nothing of what they are doing – they saturate the unit with who knows what with complete and utter failure, (meanwhile they still have bed bugs that continue to reproduce even more). They are now taking them wherever they go, (e.g., into a friend’s apartment, and/or the social areas of the complex and just maybe into the main office). A couple of months pass and you now find mattresses and other furniture items piled up in the trash area of your complex or building. An unsuspecting tenant may find it appealing and take it home.

Before long the owner isn’t just dealing with one unit – they now have the potential of many units having bed bugs.

This always backfires on the owner!

Sounds familiar anyone?

Other owners explain to their tenants that the increased rent is for elimination of bed bugs if they should get them. The affordability of renting now becomes a burden financially for their renters and soon leaves empty unrented units.

I just received a call from a young couple who has a newborn and their concern was bed bugs finding their way into their apartment from surrounding units. He told me that there was furniture all over the front lawn, and a strong smell in the breezeway, which made him question what was going on. He ruled out flooding and someone moving, and soon discovered they were treating for bed bugs in the building yet he did not receive any notice of the commencement of treatment. His concern went beyond bed bugs to the chemical that could potentially affect his newborn baby.

These situations among others are reasons why, as an owner of a building, you need to address all bed bug situations with all tenants up front. The time has come to stop “hiding” the existence of bed bugs. Bed bugs will and are becoming a way of life just like fleas, cockroaches and other common pests we already deal with. They are just harder to eliminate “after” they build into infestations.

Addressing and educating all tenants on bed bugs will be mandatory if you want to keep your units and buildings from serious “infestations”. We are proud to say that you can count on the IBBRA members to show you a simple, but cohesive program that makes bed bugs no more than a common flea to get rid of, but you have to do it early enough before they get out of hand!

Can you prove to your next new tenant that the unit they are moving into does not have bed bugs? Can you back it up with a report? Soon, more tenants will be asking that question and it is then that the burden of proof is on you.

Mass Bed Bug Busters can come in and educate your leasing and maintenance staff, provide educational materials for all your tenants and a workable Bed Bug Addendum. In addition, they also provide bed bug inspection services for whole buildings on a regular basis to make sure you never have to deal with infestation proportions. Having these in place will stop infestations from building up within your units and put more of that return on investment back in your pocket!