Bed bugs can show up in any home or apartment building, regardless of how clean it is. When this happens, several steps should be taken to eliminate the insects and avoid having them spread to other parts of the building. Your landlord or property manger is responsible for dealing with bed bugs, or any other kind of pest infestations for that matter. But it is the tenant’s job to notify the landlord about the bed bugs as soon as they become aware of the situation, so that he/she can contract a professional pest control company.
How to know whether you have bed bugs in your apartment?
Here’s the rule of thumb: if you see blood stains on your sheets and have small bites on your skin that itch, it’s good idea to take a look around– especially in the piping and seams of sheets, mattresses and box springs. Bed bugs like to hide in dark areas, so use a flashlight and check all cracks and crevices around the bed. Keep your eye out for bugs, eggs and fecal matter. Have a look at baseboards and other wood items in bedrooms, and seal up any crevices with caulking.Think openings: are there spots around your plumbing where these tiny insects might squeeze through into your apartment? Seal those up too. How about light switch covers? Make sure you discuss this option with your building manager as they will most likely assist you in sealing them up.
If you do find bed bugs, kill them immediately and do a thorough vacuuming of your entire bed area. Make sure to empty or throw out the vacuum bag. Using the hot water setting, wash all bedding including mattress pads, and dry them on high heat for at least a half an hour. When a professional pest control company is called in, be ready to cooperate in any way – this includes emptying shelves, de-cluttering other spaces, and moving around furniture. The best way to fight bed bugs is to prevent them from showing up in the first place. Keeping your apartment uncluttered is key, as these critters love easy-to-get-at hiding spots. Apartment-shoppers may want to consider whether a building is approved by the Certified Rental Building Program (CRBP), as this program ensures that landlords and property managers take all the necessary steps to keep bed bugs away. Make sure to examine everything you bring into your home from outside to avoid ‘hitchhiking’ bed bugs. It’s best to not scavenge other people’s garbage for used furniture, especially mattresses. These can be infested without you realizing it. While your apartment may not have bed bugs, as a tenant it’s important to consider that your neighbours above you, below you or on either side of you may have them. Your landlord, or property manager, may ask you to check your apartment for them, and for your apartment unit to be part of the integrated treatment solution. This is called a “block treatment” approach and is considered one of the best solutions to prevent spreading of the problem to other units. The Public Health section of the City of Toronto website (toronto.ca/health) has fact sheets with advice for tenants and landlords regarding bed bug infestations. As a tenant, realize that no one in the building, including the landlord, wants these bugs. It is only by all the parties working together, that we can address the problem successfully. To learn more about CRBP-certified buildings, visit crbprogram.org