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Bed Bugs Frustrating LMHC Tenant

A man living in a London Middlesex Housing Corporation building says he is sleeping in his car because of the bed bugs in his apartment.

Mike Burgess lives on the third floor of the LMHC building at 170 Kent St., and said the bed bug problem is out of control.

“My bed is out of commission. My loveseat, when you sit on it, within minutes you have bugs crawling on you,” he said. “My kitchen chairs, same thing, you have bugs crawling on you. I’m sleeping out in my car.”

Burgess said his apartment was treated for bedbugs a few weeks ago, but the pests have come back with a vengeance.

“When I came in first thing this morning from sleeping in the car, there were about 9 or 10 of them on the loveseat. The bed and the box spring have encasements on them, but I saw them crawling on them. I saw bugs crawling on the living room and bathroom floors,” he said.

According to Burgess, the strategy used by the LMHC isn’t working. He said he doesn’t think the pest control company being used is tackling the problem properly.

“I believe that the pest control company that they’re using is not doing what they should be doing, which is, you treat the main unit and then you go up, down, and to the sides of that unit and treat those as well. I know that they have not tested my neighbours up above me,” he said.

But Josh Brown, CEO of the London Middlesex Housing Corporation, said the contracted pest control company that handles bed bug removal does employ what he calls a “shamrock” approach that looks at the units surrounding the unit in which bed bugs are spotted.

“What happens is, typically the contractors go out and do an assessment. They look at what needs to be done and put a plan together. That plan may include, depending on the infestation level, looking at the units surrounding the particular unit in question.” Brown said . “Typically there’s a lot of work required to do the unit preparation in order to make sure the treatment is successful. Bed bugs are resilient and we’ve found that not every treatment works so we do have to go back multiple times to try to deal with the issue.”

Repeated treatments of apartment units are not uncommon. Burgess said he knows of a woman on the fourth floor of his building that has had her apartment treated 14 times.

The bed bug problem has also proven costly for the LMHC. Brown said, in 2010, pest control costs were in the $80,000 to $90,000 range. But since the bed bug resurgence that was seen across North America that year, the LMHC is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on pest control. However, Brown says they have to spend whatever is necessary to provide pest-free homes for their tenants.

“We certainly are committed to ensuring that and recognize that our tenants deserve to live in safe and clean housing,” he said.

As for Burgess, he said he has been told his apartment will be treated for the fourth time on Friday. But he said having bed bugs in his apartment is causing him to miss a special family occasion next month.

“My niece is getting married in the middle of August and I was called by sister a couple of nights ago and told not to attend because of the bed bugs,” he said.