Under most circumstances, living in an apartment comes with few issues. Most communities are notably safe, and many complexes are proactive when it comes to fulfilling work order requests for maintenance. In fact, many people prefer to live in an apartment as opposed to dealing with the ongoing maintenance and costs associated with owning a home.
But, problems do sometimes arise. One of the most difficult to manage is the presence of bed bugs.
Fortunately, you have tenant rights that you can exercise in the event of a bed bug infestation, so it’s essential that you know how to react to this situation. Let’s take a look at what you need to know.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small insects that usually feed on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded mammals. They’re flat, reddish-brown in color, and can become about 1/4″ long when the adults grow to full size.
While they’re capable of stinging humans, bed bugs are not known to carry diseases. Additionally, even though they go largely undetected by the average person, these insects give off an unpleasant smell once infestations become heavy enough.
What Are the Signs of Bed Bugs?
The first sign of a bed bug infestation is usually waking up with red bites on your arms, legs, back, or face. Bed bugs are mostly active at night when you’re sleeping. However, they can also come out of their hiding places during the day if they sense that it’s dark.
A second sign to look for is blood spots on sheets and mattresses, as well as an unpleasant odor.
What Is the Danger of a Bed Bug Infestation?
Bed bugs can reproduce at a rate of up to 500 per month.
As a result, an unchecked infestation can quickly grow into a serious problem. In addition to the bites and smell, there’s also the risk of bringing them home with you on clothing or luggage after visiting another place where they’re active. In some cases, this could lead to a larger infestation in your own home.
As you might assume, having a larger number of bed bugs present within your home puts you more at risk of physical harm. This primarily comes through the risk of having an allergic reaction to the bites.
How Do Bed Bugs Get Into an Apartment?
Bed bugs can be picked up from infested locations outside of a bedroom or other living space.
This includes buses, theaters, restaurants, and other public places that many people gather. However, they’re most frequently brought home through a person’s clothes, suitcase, or purse. Once the infestation starts, it can spread extremely quickly through an apartment complex due to the insects’ small size and ability to go long periods without food.
What Should You Do if You Find Bed Bugs?
If you discover that your apartment has been invaded by bed bugs, there are several things that you should do.
First, immediately place your clothes in a plastic bag and vacuum the entire room. This should be done frequently to prevent the bugs from spreading through your apartment or complex.
In addition, keep all of your possessions sealed tightly inside bags as much as possible for at least three days. This can help catch any stragglers that happened to fall off of your clothes in transit.
What Rights Do I Have as a Tenant?
Landlords are required to provide the basic services necessary for daily living. This includes heat and hot water, as well as a safe and habitable apartment.
If your unit becomes infested with bed bugs due to a landlord’s negligence, you have the right to take legal action against them. In addition, if your personal belongings have been damaged during this time period, you can seek further compensation.
What Should I Do If My Landlord Won't Help Me?
If your landlord fails to take action, you can contact the city’s department of housing and code enforcement. This agency will often inspect units that are believed to have bed bug issues, as well as levy fines against negligent landlords.
If they fail to resolve the problem within a predetermined window of being notified, you may also pursue legal action against them. Of course, it’s in everybody’s best interest to work together to resolve the situation. Having either party take legal action will only result in more complications.
So, if you find that your landlord has not been as proactive as they should, do what you can to reach out to them and resolve the problem. This could go a long way toward making your life easier in the immediate future.
How Can I Prevent Bed Bugs From Entering My Home?
One of the simplest ways to prevent bed bugs from entering your apartment is by making sure that all seams and openings are sealed off. This includes any cracks, holes, and unsealed electrical outlets.
You can also install door sweeps along the bottom of each exterior door to make it more difficult for insects to enter the room. While this may not entirely eliminate the threat of bed bugs entering your unit, it’s an inexpensive and helpful step that can be taken.
Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Quickly Is Essential
However, it can be difficult for you to do so if you do not understand your rights as a tenant. Landlords are legally obligated to help resolve issues related to bed bugs as quickly as possible, so be sure to get in touch with yours as soon as you notice an issue.
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