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Pest control and property damage

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Pest control and property damage

Postby Peanut » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:43 am

Hello! I'm a tenant in Washington state. Here's my story: around noon yesterday (Monday 10/29) my landlord called me and told me the apartment above me had bedbugs, so they're heat treating the entire building at 9am on Wednesday 10/31. I had to have my apartment ready for the heat by then.

The problem is that I have a very large (and very expensive) collection of records, which are likely to be damaged in the heat. I was already overbooked during the time two day time frame given, and the collection is so large that last time I moved it, it took six people 12 hours. (Records are heavy, and I have really a lot of them.) The landlord offered me an on-site storage space for them, but it's down two flights of stairs. Between work and two major projects, right now my schedule is such that in the 49 hour's notice I've been given, I could only be home six of them, and that time was spent sleeping by necessity.

Is there anything I can do about this? I've made the dilemma clear to my landlord, and he refuses to budge on the time frame. He just keeps telling me I have to make it work. It seems like there's nothing I can do to stop the destruction of my very valuable (not to mention grossly sentimental) property. Can I legally hold him responsible for any damage that occurs? I really don't want to because in the two years I've lived here he's been nothing but wonderful besides this, but we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.
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Postby TenantNet » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:37 am

First, I don't know the laws in Washington State regarding tenants giving access to landlords, notice requirements and so on, so take the comments with that caveat.

Second, read your lease very carefully. Look for provisions on notice, i.e., how long is notice required. Also consider that if you don't have tenant protections, it's possible the LL might decline to renew your lease, but that's in the future. Nevertheless, it's something to consider.

Third, I've not heard of heat-treating. But if it's sufficiently strong to melt vinyl records, then I would think there might be other things in your apartment that could also be damaged. While bed bugs are a nuisance, the cure is not something that will cause harm to residents or their possessions. And - this is important -- there are alternative to this type of cure for bedbugs.

As for timing, I would agree that 12 hours are not enough time. Even if was only one box of records, 12 hours is not enough time unless it's a true state of emergency, like a fire.

I don't know what is involved in heat-treating in terms of equipment, but it seems to me they have to get inside your apartment. You can simply refuse. You can not open the door or tell the landlord that you need more notice. (I would be dubious of this treatment from the start). Make sure the LL doesn't have your keys, or be prepared to be there. I would do the latter as they might find a way in.

Lastly, go here: http://tenantsunion.org/ and give them a call tomorrow.

Also here: http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservice ... dbugs.aspx

You also need to question the rush. Sometimes LLs will try to rush through certain repairs if they are not being done legally and properly. You need to slow down this process.
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