Bed Bugs in Philadelphia Multi-Unit Rowhouse

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Yesterday I received a call about bed bugs at a Philadelphia rowhouse off of our BugsInMyBed website. The caller rents out seven rooms separately, with all renters sharing one kitchen. The caller had many questions about self-treatment. I had no choice by to refuse to answer most of these questions, especially those about chemicals that he could use on his own. I emphasized how dangerous it would be for him to self-treat, especially a multi-unit building.

I was able to make a few suggestions.
1) he should get estimates from at least three local pest control operators who do bed bug work every day.
2) he should contract with companies that focus on the commercial end of the market, as they would have more experience with bed bugs.
3) be sure to get an in-depth tenant bed bug preparation instruction list and be sure that they follow it.
4) he should not instinctively go with the lowest bid or the highest warranty.
5) he needs to better understand the lifestyle and work environments of each occupant.
6) he should consider bed bug treatments for vehicles.
7) he should inspect the rooms for bed bugs regularly and generate a maintenance plan for bed bug prevention and treatment.
8) he should develop a set of house rules regarding practices that reduce the likelihood of bed bug re-infestation.

The landlord was very grateful for the information provided. My concern was the inherent economic motives of a landlord who has packed seven tenancies in one rowhouse and the inherent financial and social problems of tenants living in such an environment. I wondered: Is it possible to even consider the likelihood of such a low end rowhouse, with what are likely very short tenancies ever being bed bug free? If the bed bug problem will constantly resurface, what is the likelihood that the landlord will 1) give up treating for bed bugs? or 2) ignore advice and conduct dangerous self-treatments with limited effect? or 3) simply call it quits and sell the property?

There will always be a need at the low end of the real estate market to house transients and others with marginal economic means. Are we just to revert to the pre-DDT days and co-exist daily with bed bugs sucking our blood, bit by bit? Pest controllers are not going to get all this business. We are simply too expensive. Perhaps a viable alternative is to provide bed bug training and certifications to landlords that will actually allow them to treat their own properties responsibly? The bed bug epidemic has little chance of ending if those at the lower end of the economic spectrum cannot obtain proper care for bed bug infestations, consistently, reliably and at a regular frequency.

Please use the comments section and social media buttons to express your views on this post. Your thoughts are welcome.

3 Responses to Bed Bugs in Philadelphia Multi-Unit Rowhouse

  1. Hello:
    I also live in Philadelphia, and the landlord, did not tell me that the apt, had bedbugs. I have been here since, Jan, it is now April, I am moving. I will have to rid all of the things I have purchased over the years, including a 900, sofa I purchased 4 months, ago, as it is filled with bedbugs. I am so so so stressed out about this situtation. In addition landlord, is mad because I am moving out, and breaking my lease, he his telling other landlords, that I am trying to rent from, that I am moving because of bedbugs. I am trying to take him court to get some monies back for the items I have lost due to this problem. He has hired a backyard person, to take care of the problem and it is not working. I have been living in HELL,missing time from work and going to the Dr. I wish there was a law and landlords could get convicted for not letting persons know that there buildings have bedbugs. – Bella

  2. A3 says:

    We offer a form of bed bug awareness training, however, the concept of training in the use of DIY pesticides is not a half bad idea. It would likely not take any work from pest control companies, but I have a feeling it could actually generate work, as those who try to self-treat find themselves faced with a problem too large to handle, they are likely to contact the people who walked them through the self-treatment (who they now trust!).

  3. Gerry says:

    Bella, there is some good news for you. You can get some satisfaction through the courts. I do not know any lawyers in Philadelphia. But I can share with you that Hearts Consulting Group owns a website devoted to Bugs In My Bed. There are several pages there expressly devoted to bed bug legal issues, including one dealing with bed bugs and the real estate industry. The key terms you need to remember are “Constructive Eviction” and “Implied Warranty of Habitability.” I think you will find reasons to retreive your expenses under these clauses.

    Will you please let me know if Bugs In My Bed provided helpful information for you? I hope you will share with us how things progress over the next few months. Also, if you find a good lawyer, please let them know about us and suggest that they place a link here so that we can begin making referrals to attorneys with experience in bed bug litigation.

    Meanwhile, you should also follow recommendations on that website while you are in the process of moving. Check out the entire section on bed bugs on the left side menu, starting with this page on bed bug transmission. This page on bed bugs and apartment living may help you fight the case related to your prior living situation as well as help to protect you in the future

    Best wishes,


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