We’ve all heard stories about bedbugs in hotel rooms. But when the bedbugs show up in apartments, the often strained relations between tenants and landlords can become that much more intense. The Bedbug Registry — created by a computer programmer who was traumatized by a bedbug experience in a San Francisco hotel — allows tenants to “out” their landlords, as a an anonymous tenant at 140 Forest St. in Montclair did on Tuesday.
“I wish I knew to ask before we moved in. That is what I am most angry about,” the poster wrote. She says she was upset to learn that the building had an an infestation before she moved in, and she believes that she then unwittingly carried these bedbugs into her parents’ home. She did admit, however, that the landlord exterminated the apartment twice after the bugs were found.
Paul Weingarten, a Montclair artist who owns the duplex at 138-140 Forest St. and four other rental properties, is that landlord and he says that indeed he did have the apartment exterminated. He didn’t know about the Bedbug Registry or his tenant’s complaint, but he reacted philosophically.
Was the bedbug call was one of the worst phone calls a landlord could get? “We deal with it,” Weingarten said. “We resolve the problem and move on.”
Not that it’s easy. In addition to spraying, he said, mattresses have to be thrown out and all the tenants’ clothes need to be placed in a plastic bag, taken to clothes dryer so that any bugs will be killed by the heat, then removed and carried back in a different plastic bag. “It’s a big job.”
Accusations and cross-accusations are natural. Weingarten said that one of his previous tenants arrived to a just-fumigated apartment from Indiana. “A day or two later she called and said, ‘We have a mouse.’ I think the mouse came from Indiana.” As for the bedbugs at 138-140 Forest St., Weingarten believes that the tenants who first got them had, against his caution, brought furniture in from the street.
Although bedbugs are “tough critters” that “freak people out,” Weingarten say stories about how hard they are to eradicate are exaggerated: “If that were true, the Waldorf-Astoria would be out of business.”
A tenant who answered the door at 140 Forest St. on Thursday afternoon said the girls upstairs, who had the bedbug problems reported in the registry, had just moved out. He said that he’d been there since March without any problems.
But the anonymous poster on the Bedbug Registry is clearly haunted by the ordeal — even though she herself was never bitten. It was the appearance of a bed bug in her mother’s home that compelled her to write.
I am literally devastated, angry, and feel responsible. Although I took serious measures and read up on what to do in order not to transport the bb’s, my fear is that I brought them back here before I knew we had them in my apartment; as I frequently came home on the weekends … Anyone who is looking to rent here, beware. The whole house had an issue with bed bugs- all four dwellings. The people next to us actually had it worse. Please use this to your advantage; I wouldn’t rent from here as they did come back when we moved in. Good luck.