General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
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How to deal with recurring bed bug complaint from tenant

Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
Posted Aug 21 2017, 14:32

I have one tenant keep reporting bed bugs, approximately every 2 months. 

The first time, we sent pest control company, the company found there are few bed bugs in the sofa and did the spray. She visited the other apt in the same complex, and claimed that she saw bed bugs there too, however the inspector didn't find any.

The second time, she reported that she found another bed bug, pest control company went over, she didn't prepare, so we left like that.

2 months later, she reported that she found another bed bug, this time she prepared, pest control company only find 1 dead bed bug, but did the spray anyways. She claimed that she threw out a chesterfield that has lots of bed bugs before the pest control company went in and did the treatment.

Now almost 1 and half month later, she said she found another bed bug and asked for new pest control company.

What will you do if you are in this situation? Thank you!

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Everett Fujii
  • Investor
  • Plano, TX
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Everett Fujii
  • Investor
  • Plano, TX
Replied Aug 21 2017, 14:50

Given the history I would say this.

I will send a company out there.  Provided we are able to give you 24 hours notice to enter the unit if the company is either unable to inspect because you didn't prepare, or does not find an active infestation of bed bugs then any and all service/trip charges will be billed to you.

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David S.
  • Investor
  • Prairieville, Louisiana
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David S.
  • Investor
  • Prairieville, Louisiana
Replied Aug 21 2017, 15:55

Bed bugs or fleas?  That should be verified.

Treating bed bugs requires the proper treatment and help from the tenant.  If the tenant won't properly prepare the unit by removing everything from the walls by at least 2 feet and won't wash all clothes and bedding in hot water for EVERY treatment, then you may never get rid of them.  Further, if it is a severe infestation, it is likely the mattresses or couches will have to be thrown out.  If severe enough and if you have carpet, that may have to come up. Also, a SINGLE spraying is not a proper treatment.  My pest control company sprays 4 times over a 4 to 6 week period.  Pest companies won't give a guarantee of being pest free for bed bugs because they are so hard to get rid of, so a 2nd "round" of 4 sprays may be needed. It is a very expensive add on service.  It is much easier to get rid of them in a vacant unit.

The fact that she is visiting other units is disturbing. She may bring them there if they hitchhike a ride.

Also, how did the bed bugs get there? I have found that tenants are 100% responsible for infestations because they bring them with their clothes or furniture.   They also buy 2nd hand mattresses and couches that may be full of them.

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Thomas S.
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Replied Aug 21 2017, 17:26

I would suggest to her that the arrangement are not working out and that you will release her from her lease. If you are lucky enough that she is on M2M I would non renew.

Your tenant is suffering from something besides bed bugs and you need to get rid of her.

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Shaun Patterson
  • Property Manager
  • West Palm Beach, FL
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Shaun Patterson
  • Property Manager
  • West Palm Beach, FL
Replied Aug 21 2017, 19:00

so the tenant found bugs called you over wasn't prepared and then waited 2 months again to call you back? Sounds like a headache. Does the tenant at least pay on time, and are there any other complaints from other tenants about bed bugs? 

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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
Replied Aug 25 2017, 15:15
We have not heard any bed bug complaint from other tenants in the same building. She always pay on time.

Originally posted by @Shaun Patterson:

so the tenant found bugs called you over wasn't prepared and then waited 2 months again to call you back? Sounds like a headache. Does the tenant at least pay on time, and are there any other complaints from other tenants about bed bugs? 

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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
Replied Aug 25 2017, 15:24
She is currently on month-to-month, she gave a long list of repairs to our handy man before, we have offered to release her from the lease at that time, but however she said she likes the area, and she wants to stay.

You said if we are lucky that she is on M2M, is it easier to evict a tenant if she is on month-to-month, compared to 12-months lease?

The latest update, we need to send a pest control company in for inspection due to the involvement of property standard. I wonder if the report comes back that there is bed bug, or if there is no bed bug, either way what options do we have with regards to eviction? Thank you!

Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

I would suggest to her that the arrangement are not working out and that you will release her from her lease. If you are lucky enough that she is on M2M I would non renew.

Your tenant is suffering from something besides bed bugs and you need to get rid of her.

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Thomas S.
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Replied Aug 25 2017, 17:19

Normally with a M2M lease you simply give notice to non renew and a eviction is not necessary.

You need to sit down and take the time to learn your state landlord  tenant regulations. They govern the operation of your rental business.

Bill her for all treatment costs regardless of whether they find bed bugs or not. If they are not in any other units she is the cause or she is crazy.

As I said I would be getting rid of this tenant. She appears to be a royal PITA.

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Shaun Patterson
  • Property Manager
  • West Palm Beach, FL
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Shaun Patterson
  • Property Manager
  • West Palm Beach, FL
Replied Aug 25 2017, 18:07

It sounds like a headache tenant. If none of the other units have bedbugs but everyone that the tenant gets into some are found would would point to her. Ether she stops complining about these things that look like are caused by her or you think about getting a new tenant. She pays on time but you need to get her on the right track.  

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Marian Smith
  • Real Estate Investor
  • Williamson County, TX
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Marian Smith
  • Real Estate Investor
  • Williamson County, TX
Replied Aug 27 2017, 09:37

If tenant is month to month you also have the option if raising rent, perhaps in the amount of a bed bug treatment. Then set up a monthly treatment for, say, six months. Then maybe go to bi monthly, then semi-annual, etc.

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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
Replied Aug 28 2017, 06:41
Are you talking about the rules in Texas? In Ontario, we can only raise rent every 12 months, and it has a guideline that we can only raise for a certain year, such as 2%. 
Originally posted by @Marian Smith:

If tenant is month to month you also have the option if raising rent, perhaps in the amount of a bed bug treatment. Then set up a monthly treatment for, say, six months. Then maybe go to bi monthly, then semi-annual, etc.

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Greg H.
  • Broker/Flipper
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Greg H.
  • Broker/Flipper
  • Austin, TX
ModeratorReplied Aug 28 2017, 06:48
Originally posted by @Minna Hu:
Are you talking about the rules in Texas? In Ontario, we can only raise rent every 12 months, and it has a guideline that we can only raise for a certain year, such as 2%. 
Originally posted by @Marian Smith:

If tenant is month to month you also have the option if raising rent, perhaps in the amount of a bed bug treatment. Then set up a monthly treatment for, say, six months. Then maybe go to bi monthly, then semi-annual, etc.

 Texas has no restrictions or rent controls.  If the tenant is month to month, the landlord can raise the rent as much as they want to with 30 days notice.  Of course the tenant does not have to accept and may terminate the lease with 30 days notice

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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
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Minna Hu
  • Rental Property Investor
  • Toronto ON, Canada
Replied Aug 28 2017, 07:21
My properties are in Kingston, Ontario. I don't think those align with landlord tenant regulations, isn't it? give notice of non-renew, and bill her for all treatment costs?


Originally posted by @Thomas S.:

Normally with a M2M lease you simply give notice to non renew and a eviction is not necessary.

You need to sit down and take the time to learn your state landlord  tenant regulations. They govern the operation of your rental business.

Bill her for all treatment costs regardless of whether they find bed bugs or not. If they are not in any other units she is the cause or she is crazy.

As I said I would be getting rid of this tenant. She appears to be a royal PITA.

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Marian Smith
  • Real Estate Investor
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Marian Smith
  • Real Estate Investor
  • Williamson County, TX
Replied Aug 28 2017, 08:06

Sorry, I didn't mean to make suggestions for a Canadian.  (Month to month in the US means the contract ends and renews each month so it can be ended with adequate notice.   And most of the US has no rent control.)  So I have no suggestion for you as I am not at all familiar with your situation.  Good luck.

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Chuy Gonzalez
  • Investor
  • Long Beach, CA
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Chuy Gonzalez
  • Investor
  • Long Beach, CA
Replied Aug 28 2017, 14:28

Spraying for bedbugs is ineffective. If even just one escapes the spraying, you are screwed. You have to heat the apartment up to a certain temp to kill all of them. 

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Michael Gansberg
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Michael Gansberg
  • Investor
  • New York City, NY
Replied Aug 28 2017, 15:29

I'm not sure what the rules are in Ontario, but if she's been infected multiple times, odds are that she's the problem. Why would you be responsible for it? Tell her to call an exterminator and to leave you alone. You might also tell her that no tenant prior to her(if this is true, of course) has had any issues in this building/apartment.

Some states/municipalities require landlords to exterminate certain pests, in my primary area- bedbugs are in sort of a gray area. When they first became big in the news, the local code dept cited landlords and required the building owner to deal with it. Later, the code dept became so inundated with calls from tenants that they realized it wasn't tenable to keep citing landlords(who were not causing the problems.) So code then told tenants, "You caused the problem, you fix it!"

The caveat? If the bedbugs are present in more than one unit in the building, then it definitely becomes the landlord's problem. I've had tenants tell other tenants to lie to me(my management) and tell me that they also have bedbug problems to get a freebie extermination. This goes very poorly for them. My residents know me(through management) to be very fair, but I'm a human lie detector! I guess that's what a few decades in Manhattan does to people.