Bed bugs can be a devastating experience for both families and homeowners. For landlords, property owners and managers, not being proactive enough when it comes to tackling the issue of bed bugs in their properties can result in dire financial and emotional consequences at the end of the day. As a property owner, always ensure that your property is healthy to live in and safe from any evidence of infestation. It should be free from every form of pests, disease (omit disease) and any other thing that might cause harm to potential occupants; and that includes bed bugs. Moreover, if you get any complaints from occupants, endeavor to deal with the issue on time. Failure to do so can, in the long run complicate things in many ways. You might get sued for negligence, breach of contract and pay dearly for it. As a landlord, you don't have to wait for a reported case of bed bugs before doing something about the situation. Being proactive here means acting in advance to deal with any issues related to bed bugs before it even surfaces. Landlords must deal with an infestation before it occurs rather than waiting for it to happen in the first place. This also entails establishing a policy in anticipation to deal with the issue if it comes up in the future. As we all know, prevention is better than cure.
A Case We Can All Learn From...
In April this year, a California family recently won a $1.6 million settlement after their son was "marked for life" by bed bugs. According to the NY Daily News, Lilliana Martinez, the boy's mother, stated that the infestation --- which left her son permanently scarred --- started back in 2012, after the family had been living in their home for two years. Martinez said she reported the bed bug issue to her management company, which instructed her to throw their furniture away, including the baby's crib. It was reported that the family sued the property owner for breach of warranty of habitability, negligence, breach of contract, emotional distress as well as other charges. Don't let this happen to you! We can learn an important lesson from the case of the Martinez family. The benefits of being proactive in such situations are vital to not just the property manager or owner but also the residents. Here are just some of the valuable reasons why landlords and property owners need to be proactive at all times when it relates to bed bugs.
WHY PROPERTY OWNERS SHOULD BE PROACTIVE
- TO SAVE COST - The cost of treating a property already infested is quite high. However, neglecting or not addressing the issue will only make matters worse.Residents can report the issue to the appropriate authorities, and you might be in hot water. In fact, you'll incur even more cost when an aggrieved resident decides to take the money up in court. If the person wins and is awarded compensation and possible punitive damages, you will have to fork out some money; (out of your own pocket and your building insurance may not respond to a claim.) in addition to still being required and mandated to keep your property pest-free.So, why not be proactive now and handle any case of bed bug infestation with seriousness instead of levity.
- TO AVOID UNNECESSARY LITIGATIONS AND COURT SUMMONS -If you are proactive enough as a building owner, you will be able to curb the spread of bed bugs in your environment before it becomes a much larger issue. By doing so, you would have avoided any court cases as a result of negligence and carelessness.Just like our feature story, part of the reason the property owner was slammed with such a hefty settlement was due to negligence.
- FOR SAFETY - As a property owner, ensure your building is safe for habitation. The health of occupants should be paramount to you and as a result, endeavor to provide a conducive and pest-free environment.
HOW TO BE PROACTIVE IN DEALING WITH BED BUGS
The major responsibility of ensuring a conducive and bed bug-free environment still falls on the property owner. Any way you look at it, the majority of the buck stops at their table. So, how can property owners be proactive enough to avert or prevent a bed bug infested property?
- COMMUNICATION - Make it a point of duty to talk to your residents about how to prevent bed bugs from entering the building.
- CREATE PROPER AWARENESS - Awareness in the form of sensitization, posters, and handbills given to occupants making them aware of the dangers of bed bugs and how they can help in prevention and if necessary perform preparation before the eradication process.
- ENCOURAGEMENTS - Residents should be encouraged to come forward and immediately report any problems with bed bugs, or suspected infestations. When they do, make sure you act swiftly in handling the situation. You should also have information on how to identify bed bugs readily available to your residents.
- CONTACT A BED BUG VERIFICATION COMPANY - As the owner of a house, apartment or building, it is vital to employ the verification services of a professional bed bug detection and inspection company to carry out routine checks.These inspections are needed to ascertain the likelihood of any bed bugs on your property. Moreover, if bed bugs are detected, the verification company can help resolve the problem by referring you to a specialist they know can remove the infestation for good.Make sure you are contacting a certified bed bug detection company with the required license and certificate. You don't want to entrust such a sensitive situation to just about any company. They must have a proven track record with positive reviews.
THE ROLE RESIDENTS PLAY IN BED BUG PREVENTION
For residents and occupants of a property, the part they have to play in curbing bed bugs is as essential as that of the property owner. If found, the two parties have important roles to play in making sure bed bugs are ultimately eliminated and preventing the spread of the infestation. Here is just some of what residents can do to help maintain a bed bug free environment:
- Reporting to the property owner immediately if they notice any sign of bed bugs in their homes.
- Avoiding purchasing used furniture, beddings or upholstered items, or at least do not bring them into your home until you, or an expert, have scrutinized them for signs of bed bugs.
- Whenever you travel either individually or in the company of your family, try to avoid picking up bed bugs from hotels, hostels or any other places. Some of these bed bugs are picked up on the way and transferred to your house.
- For further protection, you can cover your mattresses and box springs with a bed bug approved mattress and box spring encasements. These items will be able to seal shut your beddings and prevent these pests from getting into them.
- Carry out periodic checks on your bedding and other places in your home which are common shelter points for bed bugs.
- Regularly clean and launder clothes and other linens.
- Organizing the room, vacuum often and remove clutter. Bed bugs love to hide and multiply in cluttered room.