Bedbugs!

by Readers Question

7:24 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Bedbugs!

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Bedbugs!

We have an issue with bedbugs in a property that we let out. Bedbugs

We received an email from the estate agent two weeks ago, saying the tenants had been having problems with bedbugs since January. The tenants moved in August 2014. They paid for treatment in January which got rid of them temporarily. They were getting bitten again, and had ask for us to pay the £120 bill, pay for the carpets to be cleaned, and replace one of the beds and mattresses.

We agreed, as the tenants were about to sign a two year contract. A week later, the tenants complained that they were still finding bedbugs. We spoke to the pest control firm, and they said they would do a second treatment, at a cost of £60.

When the pest control firm came round, they said it was an extremely high infestation, and the only way of treating it would be to remove and throw away all of the carpets. This would cost £400, plus of course the cost of replacing the carpets.

I started to look into other treatment. Heat treatment is supposedly the most effective treatment, however it is very expensive. I found a quote of £900 and arranged for them to visit the property. I agreed with the tenants that we would pay for half of the cost.

They came this morning, but apparently the tenants had not prepared the property. There was a list of things to do, mainly around removing clutter so they could access everywhere, and washing all fabrics at a high temperature. I spoke to the pest control firm, and they again said it was a very high infestation, and that it was likely elsewhere in the block of flats. They also said the heat treatment would destroy several bits of the furniture (our furniture). They also said that as it was likely elsewhere in the building, the problem may just come back. They pretty much said that they were reluctant to treat just our flat, without doing a full inspection of the entire block. That would cost £300. Just arranging that with all the tenants would be a nightmare, let alone the problem of cost/liability if any issues were found.

The block of 6 flats is a shared ownership block, all the flats are either part-owned by the owners and the housing association, or privately owned (like ours). I asked the tenants to knock on everyones door and ask them if they had had any problems with bedbugs. Nobody had.

I am really at my wits end and dont know what to do. I have been feeling sick with worry at the amount of money we will have to spend to resolve this problem. I have gone out of my way to help the tenants, particularly financially, and now I am thinking I should have taken a much harder line. Part of me wants to just sell the flat and be done with it, but even doing that I am sure I would need to spend thousands and lots of effort just to get rid of the problem before selling it.

Please help 🙁

Christian



Comments

Mark Alexander

7:30 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Rob Crawford

10:14 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Hi Christian, I do sympathise with you. Once bed bugs have been established and you have an infestation that includes bed bug generations over all development stages they are very hard to eradicate. The fact that your tenants have clutter and you live in a shared block where you have limited control makes it more difficult. I would suggest you discuss with the housing association and request that then implement a block debugging every 7 days for a few months. I have experienced an infestation recently in a flat that was not looked after by the tenants. We had to serve notice, dispose of all the furniture and furnishings, spray with insecticide, redecorate throughout and retreat (just in case). They spread easy so make sure when you enter the property that you wear protection and dispose of it outside when leaving. The trouble with a tenanted property is that the tenants may be hosting the bugs or eggs on themselves or their clothes so no matter what you do they will return!

christian kemp

10:25 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Thanks for the reply Rob.

I think I have a plan of action.

I am going to let the tenants know that we are not intending to renew their tenancy. It is up in 6 weeks.

I am going to say to them that I am happy to cover half of the treatment cost, up to a maximum of £450. But I am also going to make clear that this is a goodwill gesture, and the bugs are their responsibility, regardless of whether they are leaving or not.

We will then get the heat treatment done, and the company have said that they provide a certificate stating the property is free of bugs. Then we will look to sell the property.

I dont expect them to be happy with this, as I still think they think it is my responsibility to sort out. I have an email from the first company that states that there were almost certainly not any bugs in the property before the tenants moved in.

The only worry is that the bedbugs come back before the tenants move out! If so, we know it is a serious problem.

Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

Joe Bloggs

10:47 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "christian kemp" at "07/07/2015 - 10:25":

When we had this problem, the pest control guy used an insecticide that rather than killing immediately is taken back to the nest and is then spread to the other bugs. this way it should treat any infestations in the 5 other flats.

you have been too soft. our tenancy agreements spell out that this is a tenant responsibility to resolve. the only exceptions are if it pre-existed the AST or spread from another flat...difficult to prove.

christian kemp

10:50 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "07/07/2015 - 10:47":

Well the reason I was too soft to begin with, was that the tenants were about to sign a two year contract, and they have been good tenants. At the time I thought paying £300 or so to keep them happy was the right thing to do.

Thanks for the tip about the insecticide that goes back to the nest. I think I am going to get another quote from a different company, and will mention this.

Joe Bloggs

11:41 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "christian kemp" at "07/07/2015 - 10:50":

HI

i did request my post be deleted as i think im thinking about how cockroaches are poisoned. sorry for confusion.

it was the mention of spreading from flat to flat that made me think of cockroaches. ive not heard of bed bugs doing this and i would just go for one or two treatments. that has always worked for us.

i would make it a pre-condition of grant of new tenancy that the tenants sort this out, and ask to see the invoices to make sure it was done professionally.

Mark Alexander

11:46 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "07/07/2015 - 11:41":

Hi Joe

I had to reinstate your comment as it had already been responded to.

Thanks for clearing up any confusion.
.

christian kemp

11:51 AM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Joe Bloggs" at "07/07/2015 - 11:41":

The problem is, I have already had one pesticide company say that the infestation is so bad that they would need to lift up the carpets and spray underneath. The carpets would be ruined.

So it is either a cost of £400 plus carpets for a two bed flat, or £900 for the heat treatment, and the cost of replacing furniture.

Option a) is cheaper, but option b) seems to me more likely to work, however they were reluctant to do it, as they normally give a guarantee, but in this case are unable to because they said they think they must be feeding somewhere else as well.

Joe Bloggs

12:01 PM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "07/07/2015 - 11:46":

hi mark

no worries but i did send the request as soon as i typed the post!

Joe Bloggs

12:04 PM, 7th July 2015
About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "christian kemp" at "07/07/2015 - 11:51":

hi

i would get further quotes and not insist on a guarantee... they are wanting to go OTT because of the guarantee! its also v expensive. think we paid <£100 per treatment in london!

also some councils provide this service so worth checking.

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