A Bedbug Primer for California Renters

Many of us recall being tucked in to be at night as children with a teasing parent saying “Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” Thankfully for many of us bedbugs were just the stuff of nursery rhymes like cradles in treetops. In recent years, however, bedbug infestations have become all too real for more and more Americans. The pests strike across class lines and have been found in the fanciest hotels and the most rundown apartment complexes. When an outbreak is caused or extended by a landlord’s refusal to properly address the problem, our Northern California bedbug lawyer is ready and able to help.

Bedbugs: The Pest, The Impact, The Response
bugpic.jpgThe Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all agree that bedbugs are a public health pest. The EPA’s website includes a series of pages titled: “Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out.” Adults are about the size of an apple seed with a flat oval-shaped body that balloons after a feeding and a “musty-sweetish” odor. Young bugs are translucent and can be tough to spot if not recently fed, while bed bug eggs are only the size of a pinhead and pearl-white, with an eye spot.

Focusing on the public health impact of the pests, the EPA notes: “While bed bugs have not been shown to transmit disease, they do cause a variety of negative physical health, mental health and economic consequences.” People’s responses to bedbug bites vary from no reaction at all to a small, itchy bite mark to, in rare cases, severe allergic reactions including anaphylaxis. Scratching the bites, even in one’s sleep, can lead to secondary skin infections like impetigo, ecthyma, and/or lymphangitis. Bedbugs also have a mental health impact, potentially leading to insomnia, anxiety, and other forms of emotional distress.

Mattress covers and frequent vacuuming can help prevent infestations, but it is important to understand that the bugs are attracted to warmth and blood, not dirt and grime. Always check secondhand items including mattresses and furniture before moving them into your home. If you live in a multi-unit dwelling, installing door sweeps and sealing cracks/crevices can help you to isolate your unit. As the EPA notes, combatting an infestation is difficult and “there is no quick fix for eradication.” Often a specialist needs to be contacted, preferably one who employs an integrated pest management approach.”

Bedbugs in Northern California
San Francisco is among the top twenty cities in the United States for bedbugs according to a list released by pest control company Orkin. The list, discussed by South Carolina news channel WLTX, is based on the number of bedbug treatments performed by Orkin in 2014. Sacramento is one of seven cities that made a double-digit jump up (i.e. worse) in their rankings compared to the 2013-based numbers.

Helping Northern California Tenants Fight Back
If you have faced the bedbug epidemic firsthand and believe the problem was caused, worsened, or extended because of your landlord’s negligence, call our San Francisco bedbug attorney. You may have a legal claim. If your neighbors have also been affected, you may be able to band together in a civil action. Whether it is as a single plaintiff or via a class, you can and should fight back. Don’t let an inattentive landlord shame you into staying silent or the fear of retaliation keep you and your family in harm’s way.

See Related Blog Posts:
Bed Bugs in the Courts (Not Literally!) — Using Individual Lawsuits and Class Actions to Protect California Renters
What Does “Habitability” Mean in California?

(Photo by Mick E. Talbot)