20 May Bed bugs and marginal tenants

Some tenants are excellent. They pay their rent, maintain a clean quiet home, comply with reasonable rules, and are a joy to have as renters. Some tenants are just plain miserable. They have loud parties, fight with their neighbours, damage their home unnecessarily, fail to pay rent, and then appeal their evictions endlessly to the Residential Tenancies Branch because they know that when the appeals are exhausted they will have great difficulty finding a nice place to live. And then there are the marginal tenants. They are neither excellent nor miserable but can be very annoying.

Among the annoying traits is a failure to take bed bug precautions or failure to prepare properly when they do get bed bugs. Allow me to give an example: One person had a medical condition that brought about a slow deterioration of mental capacity. The tenant still had a reasonable level of lucidness and could, with minimal supports, function very normally in ordinary life. Unfortunately this person was the highest functioning member of the extended family (and the most financially secure) and as the lucidness declined the relatives took advantage of the situation to constantly visit and “borrow” (steal) money leaving the tenant with an inability to pay rent in a timely manner. The relatives, given their low functioning nature, lived in buildings run by equally low functioning landlords which did not address bed bugs. The result was my building had a parade of these potentially bed bug infested low functioning relatives hoping to suck a little blood out of my tenant.

On one occasion bed bugs were discovered on the jacket of a visiting relative. Fortunately my tenant was terrified of bed bugs and I was notified right away and treatment began immediately. Interestingly enough the relatives made no effort to help this person in time of need. As such the landlord (me) was forced to declutter / clean the suite on my own dime, deliver the tenant to the laundromat with my own truck, and reassure this tenant that everything would be ok. Interestingly I met the relatives at the laundromat and then assumed they were there to help. I was mistaken. They were only there to “visit” and left without lifting a finger.

We did address those bed bugs successfully but as time went by the relatives became bolder and started moving in with the tenant. I then evicted the tenant on grounds that there were unauthorized persons living in the suite. The more important reason eviction took place was to get rid of the parade of bug infested leaches masquerading as relatives that continually threatened to infest my building with bed bugs.

There are a large number of marginal tenants at risk of losing their suites in nicer buildings. Contrary to popular opinion landlords do not make money hand over fist and can not afford to accept or keep tenants that are unable to cooperate with bed bug protocols. Ten years ago physically or mentally handicapped tenants were happily accepted by landlords but in the age of bed bugs where extensive cooperation is a necessity to avoid and ameliorate bed bugs they are no longer welcome. Why would a landlord accept a tenant with handicaps that prevent them from performing the work required in preventing or getting rid of bed bugs? A single case of bed bugs in an uncooperative setting could explode across an entire building creating immense costs. As the bed bug epidemic continues to escalate these marginal tenants will be squeezed out of the nicer rental markets. High quality landlords can’t afford them.