Our customers continue to amaze me and I always learn so much from them.
One of them called me very late this past Saturday night just waking up after an 18 hour stint in some far off assignment. He is a consultant and expert forensic witness for some of the largest fishing fleets operating in the Bearing Sea and one of his specialties is bed bug identification and remediation.
He shared with me something that was news to me. Class action litigation around bed bug infestations in north America is exploding. He directed me to some online search results, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
There are now law firms that do nothing but bed bug lawsuits for those bitten by bed bugs. This includes huge jury awards to tenants and well as those purchasing products infested with bed bugs. I saw example after example of huge financial awards being granted by the courts for victims of untreated bed bug infestations.
In one of the more dramatic cases it is claimed by the plaintiff that Wayfair, the online retailer, has been selling new mattresses infested with bed bugs since 2016. Yikes!
One of the largest jury awards against an apartment owner was $1.6MM for the tenant.
Sensationalism around a topic like this is hard to avoid but the fact remains that bed bug infestations continue to rise in North America and around the world. The victims are both those getting bitten by bed bugs and those, who by law, have a responsibility to prevent it or remediate it once it has been identified as a problem.
Warrant of Habitability is a legal definition used between a landlord and tenant that the property being rented is habitable and/or a safe place to live. In 2019 the Colorado Legislature passed House Bill 19-1170 (Residential Tenant Health & Safety Act). The Act is a perfect example of what this type of law looks like in most US states at this point in time.
In all 50 US states tenants have the legal right to habitable living conditions, and it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide them. Living with bed bugs, bed bug eggs and bed bug nymphs of course is not considered a habitable situation and it is the responsibility of the landlord to fix the problem. Landlords that attempt to put this burden on their tenants are finding out the hard way that ignoring bed bugs can be very expensive and pound foolish. Monetary pain suffered by building owner landlords comes in the form of jury verdicts (juries are comprised mostly of tenants, not landlords) and huge settlements to class action attorneys who have figured out how to extract the maximum amount of dollars from landlords, their attorneys and insurance companies.
If you are a landlord, one of the best ways to protect against this from happening is being able to document that you are proactively addressing the situation both with inspections and remediations. As I have stated in previous posts it is much easier to get rid of bed bugs when there are not that many of them. A light to moderate infestation is mostly going to be confined to bedrooms because that is where people sleep and where bed bugs find their blood meal every night. Bed bugs do not roam around aimlessly but stay close to where they know they can feed.
If the problem is ignored and the population of bed bugs continues to grow they will migrate out beyond the bedroom making the problem harder and more expensive to remediate.
Many people are now becoming allergic and sensitive to the pesticides repeatedly used to ineffectively treat for bed bugs. The traditional pesticides used to treat bed bugs can be effectively argued in a courtroom to be introducing something into a rental property that would be considered making it uninhabitable. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a jury awarded a tenant monetary compensation because a landlord attempted to remediate bed bugs with pesticides only to find out one of the tenants had an allergic reaction or was hyper-sensitive to those pesticides resulting in personal injury?
Electric bed bug heat treatment is the perfect solution for killing bed bugs quickly when a problem is identified. They require zero pesticides and they always kill bed bugs, bed bug eggs and bed bug nymphs at around 120° Fahrenheit regardless of what strain they might be or where they came from.
Many of my public and subsidized housing customers are now building dedicated “hot box” bed bug treatment rooms so they can cook all new personal belongings and furniture before it is allowed into the building. PestPro Thermal industrial electric bed bug heaters are flexible enough to be used in both hot boxes and also in the apartments themselves as needed. Our heaters have swiveling caster wheels allowing them to be rolled long distances (building to building down the sidewalk) or in tight situations in apartments to get around corners and in situations where hoarding is an issue.
In order to get ahead and stay ahead of the risks associated with bed bug infestations it makes sense to have insurance in the form of easy to use and safe heat equipment. Invest in an electric bed bug heater and 2 high temperature fans. Being able to quickly heat treat up to 400 square feet will give you the tools you need to quash the problem quickly and easily before it gets out of control and expensive and embarrassing to remediate. No pesticides will be required, apartments or rooms will never be out of service for more than 5-8 hours and you will avoid the high costs of putting your tenants or guests in hotel rooms or worse having to pay a jury award or settlement amount in court.
Read this incredibly informative paper presented by the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel - an invitation-only organization of lawyers who focus their practice on the defense of civil claims and representation of insurers and corporations.