Monday, March 8, 2010
Help Me Howard: Bed Bugs
Don't let the bed bugs bite, a cute little saying, but in reality it's a true nightmare. One apartment complex in South Florida has bed bugs and has found they are very hard to get rid of. What can a renter do if they are being eaten up? Call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Hansel Moreno went to shake a fellows hand the other day he was humiliated.
Hansel Moreno: "They didn't want to shake my hand because it was so covered with bed bug bites that they thought I had a disease."
Hansel is covered with bed bug bites from his head.
Hansel Moreno: "Those are not pimples, but bite marks."
Down his back, to his toes.
Hansel Moreno: "I'm itching all over, it's crazy."
And Hansel and his family can't flee the bed bugs because they have filled his home.
Hansel Moreno: "They love wood, they love furniture. Any little crease or hole that they can get into, they will get into too. They lay about 300 eggs, it's crazy."
Everywhere you look in Hansel's apartment you see them, and it's not just his family that is suffering. When neighbors saw Help Me Howard show op. they came out of the woodwork, no pun intended.
Hansel Moreno: "It's disgusting. You can't have company come over, you're afraid they're going to get bit. Your kids are walking around with marks on their arms, it's embarrassing."
To kill the bedbugs, the owner of the complex gave the renters a spray, when that failed he tried fogging. Then, it was tape to trap the bugs, and finally he handed out a powder to spread.
Hansel Moreno: "This is some outdoor powder that he brought, he said to put all over house, it almost made us sick."
So, each night Hansel and his family would go to sleep knowing what they would face all night.
Hansel Moreno: "The bite marks go away really fast, but they bite you about 30 to 40 times in one night. It's miserable, I never live like this in my entire life."
Hansel says it's been going on for months. He stayed in the apartment thinking the next spray would wipe out the bed bugs. Then he dropped his four-year-old son off at the daycare.
Hansel Moreno: "They said how come he keeps getting these bite marks, if this continues we're going to get child services involved. That's where it stops right there."
Hansel then complained to the City, who told him to call the health department, who told him to call code enforcement, who told him they don't deal with bed bugs.
Hansel Moreno: "I didn't know who else to call. I stopped a Davie Police officer and I asked him and he said I really don't know, but I recommend you maybe call Help Me Howard, maybe he can help you."
Hansel is now moving out, but breaking his lease could cost him his security deposit. The experts have told him he will have to throw away his furniture. The landlord doesn't want to pay for that.
Hansel Moreno: "I told him that I want some money for my stuff, even like if it's 25 percent."
But, he's leaving with nothing except bug bites. So, Howard what should he do?
Howard Finkelstein: "Renters do not have to live like this. The landlord is responsible for rats, for vermin and of course bed bugs. They have to exterminate them quickly and if that involves you leaving the home for a couple of days, they can not charge you rent while you are out of the apartment."
When we spoke to the landlord he agreed to return Hansel's $725 security deposit, but he didn't want to pay for Hansel's bug infested furniture, saying it was junk. Then after realizing Hansel would have to throw it all away, he decided to give him $1600 for the furniture. Giving Hansel a total of $2325 to help him start over. The landlord also told us he was going to tent the building to try to finally get rid of the bed bugs.
Howard Finkelstein: "Hansel put up with this for months. You don't have to do that. Send the landlord a letter giving them seven days to eliminate the problem. In the letter let them know if it is not taken care of, you may terminate the lease, move out and get your entire security deposit back."
Hansel got his money and if you like to look at the bright side of things, he did become an expert in bed bugs.
Hansel Moreno: "I watched so many you tube videos and I Googled so many times they can actually live for about a year and a half without any blood, that's what they do, suck your blood."
Now, if you are a renter, those seven days letters Howard mentioned can be used for a lot of what are called major things. Things like, mold, no air conditioning, anything that makes the home unbearable.
Too many things bugging you. Ready to put them to bed. Contact us and let us scratch the surface because we've got the itch to soothe you.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
EMAIL: email@example.com (Please include your contact phone number when emailing)
REPORTER: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org