Bed Bugs in Your Apartment: Signs of These Nasty Pests and What You Should Do Next

According to NBC News, between 2005 and 2010, the number of exterminators who were contacted to combat bed bugs rose 57 percent. If you're living in a rental property and suspect you have bed bugs, you might not know what your options are, including who is responsible to get rid of these formidable pests. Before contacting an exterminator yourself, here are a few steps you should take if you suspect there are bed bugs in your apartment:

Signs of a Bed-Bug Infestation

Before you contact your landlord or property manager, it is important to understand the common signs of a bed-bug infestation. Here are a few of the most common:

Red, itchy bumps that are typically found on your arms, shoulder, ankles, or any other areas of exposed skin. The bumps will generally be found in small groups or rows.

A noticeable musty odor. Bed bugs emit an odor that resembles mold. If you smell a musty odor coming from your bed or closet, the issue could be bed bugs.

The presence of the bugs themselves. In addition to your bed, bed bugs can be found lurking in your dirty clothes pile, closet, or just about anywhere that is warm and comfortable. Bed bugs are reddish brown, flat, oval in shape, and typically about the size of an apple seed.

Bed bugs are more active at night, and the best place to look for them is beneath the seams of your mattress and behind your headboard.

If You Find Bed Bugs in Your Apartment

After a night of searching around your bedroom, if you find any bed bugs, it is important to document their presence. Snap a few pictures with your cellular phone and try to grab one of the bugs. Place the bug in a zippered plastic bag. This evidence will be critical when it comes times to reporting the infestation to your landlord.

With the evidence in hand, report the presence of bed bugs to your landlord or property manager as quickly as possible. Depending on the lease, your landlord will then take on the responsibility of contacting an exterminator to get rid of the bugs. Once the exterminator is hired, the landlord must provide you with at least 24 hours' notice before they can enter your apartment with the exterminator.

Is My Landlord Responsible for Getting Rid of the Bed Bugs?

The landlord has been notified, and you're stuck living in a bed bug-infested apartment. Now what? Begin by reading your lease. In most states, your landlord is financially responsible for eradicating the bed bugs. It is not your responsibility to prove you did not introduce the bed bug to the complex, and you are not financially responsible for any of the costs associated with treating the infestation.

In many cases, your landlord will also be financially obligated to relocate you while the exterminator is eradicating the bed bugs. If the landlord refuses to hire an exterminator or does not address the problem in a timely fashion, you can take legal action against them. You can refuse to pay rent, force the landlord to break your lease, or in some cases, you can even sue the property's owner.

Helping the Exterminator

Once the landlord hires the exterminator, there are many things you can do to help them perform their duties more efficiently. For example, let the exterminators know where you have seen bed bugs in the past. Eliminating excess clutter, removing all the clothing from your dresser and closet, and tossing out any mattresses in the house are a few other ways you can help the exterminator get rid of bed bugs once and for all.

If you're living in an apartment complex and suspect you have bed bugs, you might not know what to do next. Luckily, with the help of your landlord and a qualified exterminator, it is possible to quickly eliminate this nuisance. Once an exterminator such as Godfather's Exterminating, Inc. begins working in your apartment, don't hesitate to ask what you can do as a tenant to help eradicate these nasty pests.