Bedbugs, an HMO landlords storyMake Text Bigger
AAaargggh, the very word ‘bedbug’ still sends a chill right through me and here is why…
We had an HMO property where we provided the furniture. A new tenant moved in to one of the rooms and within 24 hours complained she had been bitten and that she thought it was bedbugs. I contacted our local council who were happy to do an inspection, however they were unable to get in the tenants room and she wouldn’t let them for a further month. By this stage two other tenants were complaining of being bitten.
On inspection three of the five bedrooms were infested with bedbugs, the majority being in the original girls bedroom. The council thought that the girls would have been chatting on each others beds and spread them that way.
I was not too worried about the cost of treating the bedbugs as it was around £50 for the whole treatment, however all the beds would have to be destroyed and all soft items such as clothes would also need to be treated. They would need to be boil washed or placed in a freezer for 24 hours. In addition, whilst the treatment took place we would need to provide the tenants with blow-up mattresses so that any new beds provided were not affected whilst the treatment took place. Surprisingly the tenants were ok with this, even though the council would treat once a week for 4 weeks, gosh this was going to take a while to put right!
As we provided furniture for the tenants and we could not say how the bedbugs got there, it was our responsibility to pay to fix the problem and our insurance company did not cover it. We bought the tenants a chest freezer so that they could put all their belongings in it for 24 hours and set up an area in the conservatory where they could store their belongings whilst the treatment took place.
Four weeks later we got the all clear and provided the tenants with brand new beds. We used wooden frames so if the problem ever arose again we would only need to replace the mattress and not the divan.
One week later, tenant number four moved out and bedbugs were visible on his bed too. The treatment had to begin in his room, bed destroyed etc. In addition we felt it wrong to show prospective tenants his room whist the treatment took place and we lost out on rent.
After getting the all clear we were informed again that a tenant had been bitten all up her leg. The bedbugs were back!!
I discovered that they really can be a nightmare to eradicate completely, they can hide in a crack the size of the thickness of paper. The treatment began all over again and this time we provided a refrigerated van so all the belongings could go in at once which drastically sped up this process.
The girl who originally reported the bedbugs within 24 hours handed in her notice. It emerged that the property she had moved from also had bebugs but we will never know if she bought them with her.
The council were very good. They visited other properties where our tenants frequented to see if the bed bugs had spread there too, they never charged extra for the additional treatments.
When we thought the problem was finally resolved, our adjoining neighbour reported us to environmental health to say that her bedroom, (which did not adjoin our house) had bedbugs in and they were coming through the wall to her house. By this stage I was a bit fed up with the whole thing, as were our tenants. We not only sent the council back, we sent a private company too and environmental health all to inspect together. The neighbours property was found to have bedbugs in her room, however in our property there was just one bedbug found in one bed, which although it’s not good to have any, it was a relief. Due to our history with the council we were able to show to environmental health exactly what we had done to sort the problem and we were not found at fault.
This cost us thousands to resolve, in lost rent and replacement furniture. If it happens to you don’t take any short cuts; get on to your council right away and good luck!!
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