Archive for category Bedbugs

Don’t Miss The Landlording Event of The Year – AASEW Trade Show on Friday, September 27th


Hello Everyone — The event of the year — the AASEW’s Conference & Trade Show — will be held in a little more than 1 week.

You will not want to miss this great event at its new location at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.


When: Friday, September 27, 2103 from 11 am – 4:30 pm (Doors open at 10 am)

Where: Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 1721 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233

How Much? Free to all Landlords with pre-registration at otherwise the cost will be $10 at the door.


Doors open at 10 to allow you time to meet with and learn about all of the great products and services of our vendors.

Complimentary food will be available throughout the day.

The first even will start at 11 am when we will be presenting an very special award to Wisconsin Senator Frank Lasee for all of his work and support in getting last year’s Act 143 (Landlord Omnibus Law) passes and advancing Senate Bill 179 which will (hopefully) soon be law later this fall.

The award presentation will be followed by various seminars throughout the day.  I will be presenting a seminar at 3:30 pm on “Legal Issues Pertaining to Bed Bugs and How Landlords Can Protect Themselves.”  The other seminars that will be offered are listed below.

  • 11:15  -  Social Media: Are you doing it right?
  • 11:15  -  Bed bugs in a multi-family environment
  • 12:30 -  I’m on Linked In, Now What?
  • 12:30 -  Making the Grade: Financing Your Investment Property
  • 1:30 -  Mold – Be Prepared, Not Afraid
  • 1:30 -  Working with Milwaukee’s Dept of Neighborhood Services
  • 2:30 -  Rental Collectsion into the 21st Century
  • 2:30 – Multi Family Energy Savings Program
  • 3:30 -  Milwaukee County Evictions
  • 3:30 – Legal Issues Pertaining to Bed Bugs and How Landlords Can Protect Themselves

Following the seminars we will be having several raffle prizes including giving away an iPad — you must be present to win.


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Landlord Owes $40,000 to Tenant In Baltimore Bed Bug Lawsuit

I stated in one of my prior posts that with the influx of bed bug infestations around the country, that it would only be a matter of time until we saw an increase in bed bug litigation as well.

While bed bug litigation is in its infancy, it has taken a large step forward recently.

A jury in Baltimore recently awarded a tenant $40,000 in damages, in what is described by the tenant’s attorney as the “first bed bug trial in Baltimore.”  While I was not present at the 3 day trial or able to read a transcript of the trial, a recent news report indicates that the basis of the large damage award was the landlord’s delay in addressing the bed bug infestation in the tenant’s apartment.  Allegedly, the bed bugs were introduced into the apartment complex by a neighboring tenant who then vacated, causing the bed bugs to migrate to the plaintiff’s unit in search of food.

This verdict should concern landlords everywhere.  We are now aware know that 12 individuals in Baltimore, felt a tenant should be awarded damages, and a landlord should be required to pay them, even though the landlord did not introduce the pests into the apartment complex.  The jury award was based solely on the landlord’s delay in addressing and resolving the bed bug infestation.

This is a warning to landlords everywhere that you cannot just sit back and tell your tenants that it is their responsibility to get rid og the bed bugs, even if the tenant brought the pests to the apartment.  I have fielded many telephone calls from landlords and management companies, where I was told that the landlord/agent didn’t feel that they should be required to eradicate the bed bugs since it was the tenant that brought them into the unit.

I think it would be foolhardy to sit back and require your tenant to eradicate the bugs.  My advice to landlords is that you — the landlord — should take control of the situation and vet and hire a qualified exterminator.  If you leave it to your tenants to eradicate the bed bugs, you may be sorry.  A tenant may attempt to use homemade remedies that do not work and will allow the infestation to grow larger.  A tenant may elect to use bug bombs — which wil only cause the bed bugs to spread out to different units, making treatment harder.

It is your property.  It is your investment.  Do not trust its safekeeping to a tenant.  You want to ensure that the situation  is handled promptly and professionally.  You can deal with who should responsible for the cost of eradication after the bed bugs have been killed.

We will be seeing more and more bed bug litigation in the future.  The plaintiff’s lawyer in Baltimore  — who hilariously is known as “Maryland’s bedbug barrister”  — was quoted as saying that he has been contacted by more than 200 people in the last couple of years regarding handling their bed bug lawsuits and that he currently has 18 bed bug lawsuits pending.

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Bedbugs . . . There Is Insurance For That, Now.

It was only a matter of time and I’m surprised that it didn’t come sooner.  Two different companies are now offerring bed bug insurance for hotel/motel ownes, universities, and landlords.  Willis North America and Aon Risk Services are now offerring seperate lines of this specialty insurance.

I have yet to get ahold of a policy to see what it covers and what it excludes but from some articles that I just read in the Baltimore Sun, LA Times, International Business Advisor,  the Willis North America coverage includes decontamination services, rehabilitation expenses, lost profits due to business interruption, crisis management (24/7 hotline), corrdination wth regulatory authorities, risk control and prevention.  Here is a News Release on the new insurance from Aon.

Apparently a NJ university and an Oklahoma hotel have already purchased the insurance.

I know of some large multi-unit apartment owners that have spent thousands on trying to rid themselves of bedbugs – this insurance might be appealing to them.

Let me know if you or anyone you know has a copy of such a policy, I would be interested in reviewing it.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

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Bedbugs . . . Coming Soon To A Rental Property Near You

No longer are bedbugs just a problem in foreign countries, New York City or Las Vegas.  Bedbugs are alive and crawling in Wisconsin rental housing units.  They have been found in single family rental homes and duplexes in addition to large multi-unit facilities.  Unlike many other insects, bedbugs are not attracted to dirty living conditions or spilled food.  So you may have a perfectly clean tenant with a spotless apartment unit, and they could still have bedbugs.

Bedbugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide that we emit when we breathe and they dine on our blood.  They are the ultimate hitchhikers and enter apartment units on furniture, clothing, suitcases and many other objects.  Unfortunately, the eradication of bedbugs is difficult at best and is often quite expensive.  Your best defense against bedbugs in your rental properties is to prevent them from arriving in the first place.

I have worked with several landlords and property managers over the last few years on bedbug issues.  Although I cannot prevent you from ever experiencing a bedbug infestation, there is some information I can provide that should be of assistance if you ever have several hundred unwanted crawling tenants move into your rental property.

First, you need to educate yourself about what is required of a landlord with regard to providing your tenants with a habitable rental unit.  This includes both at the time of initial occupancy and in the middle of a lease term (such as after a tenant contacts you about a bedbug infestation in their rental unit).  In the city of Milwaukee there is a local ordinance requiring a landlord to exterminate any bug infestation in their rental properties, regardless of who caused the problem.  Practically speaking – and in order to protect your real estate investment – you should never allow your tenants to be in charge of the bedbug extermination process.  This process should be solely your responsibility.  Later, after the bedbug eradication efforts are underway, you can speak with your tenant about who is responsible for paying for the extermination costs.

Second, educate your tenants about bedbugs.  Teach them about the signs of a bedbug infestation.  Caution them against buying used or second hand furniture.  Advise them to take basic preventative measures when they travel.  Inform them to contact you immediately if they think they have bedbugs in their rental unit.  And explain to them that if they do not cooperate 100% with your bedbug eradication efforts, their new co-tenants will continue to share their bed.

Third, make sure that any written rental documents you are using are up to date, do not contain any provisions that will cause them to be void in the state of Wisconsin, and address bedbug infestations and the costs of eradication.

Finally, understand the special issues that arise when prosecuting or defending against bedbug litigation.  Litigation involving bedbugs can arise in many different contexts, including:  tenants suing landlords for health care bills related to bedbug bites, tenants suing landlords for reimbursement of rent the tenants paid during a bedbug infestation, tenants abating rent due to a current bedbug infestation, tenants moving out and breaking their rental agreement due to a bedbug infestation, tenants suing a landlord for making (allegedly) improper deductions from their security deposit to cover the cost of bedbug eradication, landlords suing tenants for unpaid rent after the tenants have vacated due to a bedbug infestation, and landlords suing tenants in an attempt to recoup costs advanced for bedbug extermination treatments.

If you are a landlord or a property manager, the question is no longer if you will be confronted with bedbugs, but rather when you will be confronted with them.  Make sure that you have taken all the necessary precautions before it happens so that when it does, you will be in the best possible position to respond quickly and appropriately.

If you are interested in learning more about the legal aspects involving bedbugs and how you can better protect yourself legally if you should encounter bedbugs in your rentals, I will speaking on this topic at the upcoming Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin’s (AASEW) Annual Trade Show at Serb Hall on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.


Don’t Miss Bed Bug Boot Camp on June 28th, 2011

In response to the unprecedented spike in the resurgence of of bed bugs in the past year, Wil-Kil Pest Control is offerring a Bed Bug Boot Camp.  From pest identification to the legal ramifications of bed bugs, both sessions offer property owners and managers the tools they need to effectively respond to the threat of bed bugs and includes a Bed Bug Canine Scent Detection Demonstration.

Click here to see the Bed Bug Boot Camp flyer.

The Milwaukee seminar will take place on June 28th, 2011 from 1 pm – 4:30 pm at the Radisson Hotel Milwaukee West at 2303 N. Mayfair Road in Milwaukee.

I will be speaking at the Milwaukee session on the legal ramifications of bed bugs nto landlords and property managers.  Specifically, I will discuss the requirement that landlords provide tenants with a habitable rental property, local ordinances regarding extermination issues, and how a landlord and/or property manager can best prepare themselves to deal with any legal issues that may arise from a bed bug infestation.

There is no cost to attend the seminar.  You must however, preregister for the seminar by going to Wil-Kil’s website.

There will also be a Bed Bug Boot Camp in the Madison area on June 30, 2001 from 1 pm – 4:30 pm at the Hilton Garden Inn Madison (West) at 1801 Deming Way in Middleton.  Atty. Jay Koritzinsky will be speaking on the legal aspects of bed bugs at this session.

This will be a very timely and informative seminar that will be well worth your time.  Hope to see you all there.


Bed Bug Liability Poses Legal Quandary

I was recently interviewed by the Wisconsin Law Journal about the issue of bed bug liability in rental housing.  You can read the article by Jack Zemlicka here.

If you are interested in additional information on bed bugs you should review my earlier posts on this pesky subject.


Some of The Best Bedbug Information That I Have Read To Date

If my crystal ball is correct we will be seing a large uptick in litigation regarding bedbugs in the future — both tenants suing landlords for not dealing with the bedbug infestations and landlords suing tenants for bringing the critters into the landord’s property.  There have already been lots of lawsuits regarding bedbugs, many of which I have touched on in a prior blog post.  If you need some basic information on bedbugs please refer to my first post which includes a very good Powerpoint presentation from Giertsen Company of Wisconsin on bedbugs and how to control and eradicate an infestation.

In my continuing quest to learn more about theses pests  — yes, it is true I do not have any children yet, so I have some extra time on my hands : ) —-  I came across some articles about bedbugs that were written by Dini M. Miller, Ph.D. from Virginia Tech’s Department of Entomology, which are extremely thorough and answered many questions that I had on the topic but could not find answers to in other publications.

The one question I can still not find the answer to is what is the proper spelling of bedbugs — is it bed bug or bedbug???

Dr. Miller’s articles include:

1.   How To Identify Bed Bug Infestations

This article addresses what bedbugs look like during the different phases of their lives, what a bedbug’s molted skin looks like, where you can find molted skin in your home, how to identify a bedbug’s fecal spots (yeah, lets just call it what it is — poop), where to look for the poop, and how to identify bed bug aggregations (i.e. get togethers, pow-wows, parties, family reunions, shin-digs etc. ).

2.   Bed Bug Prevention Methods

This article contains some great information on how to prevent bringing bedbugs home with you when you are traveling.  Specific tips are given on how to inspect a hotel room before you sleep there and how to prevent bedbugs from crawling into your luggage.  I guess I will never be unpacking my clothes from my suitcase during a trip again.  The article also addresses why you should avoid used furniture.  Visitors to your home may have these little hitchhikers on them and Dr. Miller addresses this issue and what you can do to minimize this from happeneing aside from becoming a recluse and not allowing anyone to visit you ever again.  The article talks about encountering bedbugs at laundromats and at the workplace. 

3.   Bed Bug Biology and Behavior

Learn everything that you ever wanted to know about bedbugs’ feeding, mating behavior, egg production, nymph development time, and an adult bedbug’s life span.  Did you know that a bedbug must take a meal before it can molt and enter the next phase of its life?

4.   Bed Bug Treatment Using Insecticides

I was disheartened to read there is no labeled insecticide product that is capable of eliminating a bed bug infestation on its own.  In order to kill an infestation, they must be attacked from many angles with many different products or devices.  This article discusses (1) liquid insecticide sprays, (2) areosol insecticide sprays, (3) insecticidal dusts,  (4) insect growth regulators (IGR’s), and (5) repellants.

5.   Non-Chemical Bed Bug Management

Dr. Miller addresses the topics of removing clutter, using dissolvable laundry bags, using bed bug detectors (The ClimbUp device), vacuuming, steam, pressurized carbon dioxide snow, diatomaceous earth, mattress encasements, and heating systems (the gold standard) to assist in the eradication of bed bugs.

6.   Bed Bug Action Plan For Apartments

It is reccomended that all apartment staff receive bedbug training so that they will know how to identify a bed bug infestation and how to respond to any complaints of bedbugs from tenants.   Also addressed is how to establish a community-wide bed bug awareness program and the need to overcome the stigma of bed bugs in order to deal with the widespread infestations throughout the country.  Dr. Miller also gives suggestions on how to respond to a complaint of a bed bugs from a tenant living in a multi-unit apartment complex and what to expect regarding control of the problem.  Also discussed are the roles that adjacent units and vacant units will play in an infestation in a large apartment complex.

7.   Bed Bug Action Plan For Hotels

While this article specificallly addresses bed bugs and hotels, many of the suggested plans that are discussed could apply equally well to apartment complexes.  Dr. Miller discusses what to do when you receive a complaint of bedbugs, what to do when you suspect a room is infested, how to treat the rooms adjacent to an infested room, and what to do with employee areas.

If you are interested in learning more about all things bedbug, or if you are dealing with a bedbug infestation personally, I would highly reccomed these articles by Dr. Miler.  I have read lots of information on bed bugs over the past year and these articles are some of the best that I have encountered.