Is the Landlord ONLY Responsible to Pay For Bed Bug Extermination
(Spring Hill, FL)
We moved into an apartment complex. About 6 weeks prior to our lease expiring, I noticed 3 small black lines in my Grandsons' room where the wall and ceiling meet, that were NOT there the day before. I asked my Husband what it looked like to him, he had no idea either. We had NEVER seen anything like it. We asked the boys if they had used a marker or something or possibly made the marks with some chocolate (you know how boys can come up with the strangest of games) but they denied any wrong doing and seemed just as shocked to see the marks as we were.
So, I called the office manager of the complex and asked her if the maintenance guy could come paint, that I thought the marks could possibly be old stains coming back through the paint. She said she could NOT have HIM paint but would get some paint for us to do it. About 2 weeks after my initial call regarding these marks, I noticed they were getting bigger and more marks were appearing on the wall. I freaked out thinking now it was black mold. I was so paranoid I asked my disabled husband to climb on the top bunk and try to remove it with some bleach all that did was cause it to smudge. He said he wasn't touching it again, it felt gross. I called the office manager once again and before I could tell her to forget about the paint, she immediately said "Oh crap, I'm sorry, I forgot all about the paint".
I told her I didn't need it that I now believed the marks to be "BLACK MOLD" and told her that she needed to come "check it out". She claimed she had to attend a meeting at another complex and could not come that day but would come the following day or send the maintenance guy. Well, neither one came the next day or the next day. I continued to call her over the next week or so leaving frantic messages and yet never got a call back NOR did anyone stop by.
Exactly 2 weeks after I discovered the marks, my daughter and her fiancé came by to see their kids I had told them I thought we had Black mold. He wanted to see the wall since he is a Floridian and is familiar with it, he would know for sure if it was. Well, when he walked in the room he gasped. The lines by now had gotten longer and there were several more than there were 2 weeks ago his gasp I thought was because it WAS black mold and a lot of it. When he turned and looked at me after getting a close look the expression on his face was as if he'd just seen a ghost. "Memah" he said to me, "these are BED BUGS".
I had NO idea what he was telling me, I didn't even think such a parasite existed except in the bedtime wishes I had recited to my own children and all my Grandchildren, "Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!!! So, I told him "cut it out, there's no such thing". He reassured me there was and said he only knows about them because the hotel he stayed in while working as a shrimper in Miami had been infested with them. I ran out of the room and called the office NO answer as usual. I left no message.
My future son in law dismantled the boys’ bunk beds, removed all the linens and placed them in bags and brought them immediately to the dumpster. We placed their mattresses outside. He then looked in other rooms for any sign of them. I kept calling the office until the time passed when they would officially be closed. I NEVER got an answer that day and of course it was a Friday so I could not call anyone again until Monday. I even tried to call the woman who ran the daycare hoping she would have an emergency number for the office manager and got no answer on her cell phone either.
So, we just sprayed the room with every pesticide we had in the house and closed up the room, placing towels under the doors and over the vents etc. to keep what was in there at bay. In checking the rest of the house and beds he said he didn't see them anywhere but in that ONE room. I cried all weekend stricken with guilt for putting my boys in that room with those disgusting thing in there. All I pictured was them crawling all over them during the night after my just tucking them in telling them to "sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite". I was a wreck. I couldn't sleep or eat in the apartment knowing what was just down the hall. The boys now were sleeping in the living room. I didn't feel comfortable leaving or 6 yr old Grand-daughter down the hall by herself so we played it safe and closed up her room as well. Now all 3 kids slept in the living room until we could get this disgusting mess taken care of.
I called the office the minute it opened on Monday morning. Through the barrage of tears I managed to tell the office manager that what we had discussed we thought might possibly be Black mold that she never came to see nor send the maintenance man to look at was believed to be BED BUGS!! Her first words to me were "Oh my God, are you kidding me?, I'm sooo sorry, but don't worry honey cuz we take care of the extermination but there
are a LOT of things you will have to do to prepare for the intense fumigation and I would get rid of my mattresses right away" she said. I asked here her the hell the came from she said they could have come from anywhere and that I probably brought one in from the grocery store or he movie etc.. I told her that we don't go to the movies and that had I brought ONE in I would have noticed something a long time ago not just wake up one morning to a whole infestation all of a sudden. "Yeah, you could" she said. I argued that I knew we did NOT bring them in, someone else here has to have them because our children ONLY play with the kids in the complex!!! She assured me that no one else had reported having them. She told me they did have them at their other complex but not at this one.
She told me she would have the maintenance guy bring me the list. I waited for the list and it didn't come that day. Then the next day (Tuesday) afternoon we found it stuffed in our front door (guess they didn't want to come in) cuz we were home and no one even knocked. This list contained numerous things we needed to do if we didn't want to be charged $50.00 for not being ready. One of which was to REMOVE everything that was NOT furniture, which meant we were to store them where??? So, we had to rent a storage unit and another was that we had to stay OUT of the apt for at least 24 hours which meant we were to go where?? To a hotel. My Husband & I are BOTH disabled and raising 3 Grandchildren ages 6, 8 and 10. I called her after reading the list and she asked if we could have it all done in 24 hrs? I told her I wasn't sure she assured me they would do whatever they could to help, just ask. I asked her where we were expected to put all our stuff she said "gosh, I don't know, I'm sorry but are those your mattresses at the compactor"? "Yes" I said. "You can't leave them there honey, they'll charge us $100.00 for each one of them, and then I'll have to charge you. You have to get them out of there right now too, so I don't get in trouble" I told her I would have my Husband bring them to the dump. "That's great thanks" she said. She told me to call her back when I knew we could have the apt done and ready for the spraying. She then told me to figure out when we could have the apt ready and call her back. I asked her if we paid them, could we hire either one of the maintenance men to help us she said NO, I asked her if we could maybe store the things that NEEDED to be out of the apartment in an empty apartment for 24 hrs she said NO. I asked her if she could move us into a different apartment she said NO. Ok, so much for helping as much as you can I said to myself. When I called her back the next day to let her know when we'd be ready, she said "When you take stuff to the dump up the street, don't use your address cuz you're not supposed to use that dump we don't pay the fees to use it so none of our tenants are supposed to. Just bring it someplace else". My Husband told her he had already brought the mattresses there and when we gave the address they didn't say a word. "Well, she said then just try not to use your address". I never got a chance to tell her when we would be ready because the conversation totally caught me off guard. So, I immediately called her back but now, I had to leave a message. She did not call me back that day OR the next. Finally I reached her on Friday she stated that she would have to call the Pest control company first anyway and was not sure when they would say they could come. So, I told her we could have it done in 3 or 4 days. "Great they'll do your apt on Tuesday. What time I asked her. She said she wasn't sure of that but most likely in the morning around 10:00. Monday morning I called the number on the top of the list we had been given assuming it was the Pest control company that was spraying our apt the next day to ask approximately what time they were coming.
The woman who answered informed me that they had NO appointment for us and that they wouldn't have just made an appointment like that as they MUST follow protocol and have a technician come to our apt first and get a sample so it can be confirmed that bed bugs is what we have. She told me that they hadn't talked to our office manager at all and knew nothing about us possibly having Bed bugs. I was sooo angry, and told them I would call them back. I called the office livid and asked her what was going on. I told her I had just called the Pest Control company and we had NO appointment. Her response? "Hmmmm, I could have sworn I called them, no I know I did". "No" you didn't I told her. She told me she was going to call them and get back me saying "there must be a misunderstanding somewhere".
Thanks for reading, I hope it can help others.