Bed bugs and the landlord’s calculus of eviction



We have learned in earlier studies that a large percentage of bed bug activity is host driven. That means the bugs will remain in their harbourages, even in starvation settings, until a host is made available. Therefore treating empty infested suites is problematic. The bugs just wait, protected in their little hideaways, until the next tenant moves into the suite rendering chemical treatments ineffective. In practice we note the same process – it is very difficult to treat empty apartments.

When a tenant has bed bugs it is in the landlord’s interest to address the bugs with the tenant remaining in the suite. We need the “bait” to draw the bugs out and be poisoned. But what happens if the tenant refuses, despite assistance, to cooperate? Or what do you do with a tenant that constantly reinfests his apartment through infested guests? It is true that I need the tenant as bait in the suite to get rid of the bugs but if he constantly reintroduces the bugs or refuses to cooperate a new calculus comes into effect.

If the tenant is evicted the bugs will remain and the landlord must then rent out an infested suite to a new tenant. That is not very appealing. But if the tenant refuses to cooperate he/she will continue to infest him/herself and other neighbouring suites. As such the landlord must choose the lesser of two evils. Sometimes evicting the tenant, despite the looming difficulty of renting out an infested suite, is the best option.

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