Apartment Hunting? Check for Bed Bugs First Before Signing The Contract

Moving is no doubt a stressful experience—between finding a new home, packing up all your belongings in boxes, carting those boxes across the city, state, or country, and then unpacking and organizing everything. Whew, that’s a lot!

But what’s worse is doing all that…and then realizing your new apartment has bed bugs.

Today, we’re discussing apartment hunting and bed bugs. We’re giving you our best tips and tricks to make sure that your beautiful new home isn’t actually a bug-infested nightmare.

Why You Need to Check for Bed Bugs

As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, Cincinnati is one of the top cities in the entire country for bed bugs (now coming in at #5). This is actually worse than in previous years, when Cincinnati held the #8 spot.

Bed bugs are an equal-opportunity pest. They have been found just about everywhere—from the most luxurious to the filthiest of places. It doesn’t matter how nice the neighborhood or how clean or luxurious the apartment: bed bugs could be lurking inside.

This means it is very possible the apartment (or apartment complex) you are considering has had—or is currently battling—a bed bug infestation!

And unfortunately, you can’t always rely on the landlord to inform you about bed bugs.

While there are a number of states that require landlords to tell prospective tenants about the building’s bed bug history if they ask (or even don’t ask!), Ohio isn’t one of them. In fact, Ohio’s landlord/tenant laws don’t say anything about bed bugs at all.

As a result, a landlord does not have to tell you if the apartment you’re looking at had bed bugs recently. They don’t even have to tell you if the apartment two doors down is battling bed bugs right now. And if they don’t absolutely have to tell you, well…some might not say anything, for fear that you would back out of renting the apartment.

In addition, the landlord might not be trying to hide anything. They might not know that there is an infestation. How is this possible? There are a few scenarios that come to mind:

  • The previous renter moved out in a hurry, and didn’t tell the landlord about bed bugs before leaving.
  • Neither the renter nor the landlord realized there are bed bugs. (This happens to people more often than you’d think: we wrote a previous post about how many people mis-identify different pests.)

As a result, the landlord might unintentionally show you an apartment that has bed bugs.

Worse case scenario: this might result in you moving into a building—or even apartment—with an active bed bug infestation.

How to Tell If an Apartment Has Bed Bugs

Before you sign on the dotted line and move in with your belongings, you’ll want to do a few things.

First, we recommend talking to the landlord about bed bugs. Do they seem willing to talk to you? Can they tell you what measures they take to prevent, identify, and eliminate bed bugs? Can they tell you what to do if you find bed bugs in your apartment? If so, this is a good sign. It’s not a good sign if the landlord doesn’t want to talk about it or can’t tell you what steps they take.

Second, we advise doing some research. You can look at online reviews of the apartment complex (try Googling “bed bugs [your apartment complex name]”). You can be sure that if the landlord hasn’t handled bed bugs properly in the past, a tenant will have written about it!

Finally, it’s a good idea to physically check the prospective apartment for bed bugs. You can do this during the apartment tour. (Don’t skip the apartment tour, and beware any landlord or property manager who pressures you to sign without seeing the actual space. That’s a big red flag.)

You’ll want to spend a little time checking the areas where people tend to spend the most time, especially the bedroom and living room. If there is furniture in the apartment, take a moment to check its seams, cushions, and cracks. Check the mattress, box spring, and headboard if they are there. Also, use a flashlight (or your phone) to look at the edges of the carpet, baseboards, any cracks in the wall, peeling wallpaper, power outlets, etc.

While you do this, look for the signs of bed bugs:

  • Adult bugs (about the size and shape of an apple seed, and reddish-brown in color)
  • Bed bug eggs (white specks that show up under a flashlight)
  • Dark spots or reddish-brown stains on the mattress or other furniture

How to Get Bed Bug Relief

Of course, it’s your right as a tenant to live in a fit and habitable place, and it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide that. A pest infestation would qualify as “inhabitable.” (In Cincinnati, bed bugs are actually considered a public health nuisance.)

If you suspect that your apartment has bed bugs, we recommend giving notice (in writing) to your landlord to fix the problem. Your landlord should hire a reputable pest control company to deal with the bed bugs.

If the landlord doesn’t address the problem in a reasonable amount of time, you have a few options:

  • Deposit your rent with the Clerk of Courts until the landlord addresses the problem
  • Apply to the court for an order to compel your landlord to treat the bed bugs
  • Terminate your rental agreement and leave the apartment

Questions? Call Scherzinger Pest Control

If you’re not sure you have bed bugs or have questions, we’re happy to help.

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-888-681-1925 or through our websiteFacebook, orTwitter.