Bed Bug Complaints Surge

Last updated: August 27, 2010 – 11:47 AM

Bed bug complaints on the Metropolitan Tenants Organization Hotline have gone from none to at least 200 calls a year. WBBM’s John Cody reports.

If you have bed bugs in the Chicagoland area, call the Chicago tenants rights hotline at 773.292.4988. Open M-F from 1-5pm.
Stay tuned for an updated online FAQ on Bed Bugs and what do about them.

All 12 Comments

  1. In my building there was an infestation in the unit below me that my landlord did not disclose to the rest of the building. Unknown to myself and my girlfriend, we ended up with a bad infestation..As soon as we realized we had them I called my landlord to let her know, and at that point she informed me that the tenant below did indeed have them prior to my discovery…She has paid for not one but two treatments as the first exterminator did a poor job, and we found them in the temporary room that we were sleeping in in the apartment (our living room)..Mind you we did not reoccupy the normal bedroom after the first treatment and came to find out the room , and the supposedly treated mattress was teaming with them after the second discovery…As soon as we found a bedbug in the temporary location I called again, and as a result we have yet endured another treatment with the check-up happening the beginning of this week. Now I will say that my land lord has indeed payed at this point almost 1k in extermination fees, so I am content with that however I do not trust that we will see the end of this due to the fact that other tenants may have them and not realize it yet…I know for a fact that she has not informed the rest of the building about what has been going on, and I feel like if she had done that in the first place with the initial situation on the second floor we (I) would not be in this predicament because we would have been able to at that moment check for them and be proactive towards not contracting them…I have not said anything to my neighbors at this point not I feel like I should but want to keep (for now) a peaceful relationship with the landlord. What is her obligation to tenants in this situation?..Was she obligated to inform each unit in the building as to what was happening in the initial infestation below my apartment??..I do not want to leave my apt because I have lived here happily for a few years and have a great space for the price but if we endure another round of this I will have to break my lease and move…We have a LOT of laundry that must be done as well as proper dry-cleaning to do once the exterminator comes back. Currently all of our clothes and the like are in sealed bags and for the last 3 months we have been living like transients in our own home…Lastly is my landlord liable for the money that it will take to replace lost items due to a situation that I was not warned about until i discovered it on my own…We have thrown out bedding, and expensive mattress memory foam pads…We also have been told that the mattress is savable but it isn’t something that I am comfortable sleeping on until I am sure that it is clean..The mattress is worth upwards of $1200.00..When we went through the first round I sent her receipts for replacement of things that had to be pitched…She negotiated with me to only pay half which at the time I was reluctantly agreeable to (pick your battles..She lives in the building)…I had always felt that she should pay for everything since she did not tell us that there was an initial infestation…

    What are our rights in this situation, and what is my landlord’s liability to me and the tenants that are not aware of the problem?

    Thanks for reading my lengthy message and any insight you have is greatly appreciated..

    Kind regards,


    1. While you did not specifically mention that the infestation that you have is bed bugs I am assuming that is the problem. I am not sure what type of method the exterminator has used but many of the treatment require multiple applications as they do not kill the eggs. A heat treatment does kill the eggs.

      According to the law, the landlord is not under any obligation to inform other tenants of the problem. A tenant can inform others and might be the best course of action if the landlord is not. If tenants in other units are infested, it will only be a matter before they return to your apartment. I believe that most pest control experts recommend that all units touching an infested unit be inspected.

      As for damage to your property, you may have to prove that the landlord was negligent meaning that the landlord was aware of the problem and did not take proper action or the landlord took inappropriate action which caused the damage. You should consult with an attorney because there the landlord may be liable if the case you described especially if they knew about the problem in your neighbors unit and did not take action.

      How many units are in the building? It might be a good idea to get all the tenants together to discuss the issue. If this is something that you wish to pursue, our agency could send someone out to your building to go over the laws and what steps you can take collectively.

  2. I have a bed bug infestation in my house which has sent to the hospital for treatment of bed bug bites..but now after I threatened to call the city my landlord has exterminated but I have some things in my home that are no longer usable which is my suede couch set- my beds- clothing- diapers-carpet cleaning-and other things is there a way to take these from the rent or just pay and sue??? I have 3 children 8,6, and 1 hey all have bronchitis and cannot be in the home I am bouncimg from hotel to everybodys apartment and on top of all this my physician didnt clear me to go back to work for a week so ive now lost a weeks pay due to this infestation…help.please!

    1. You will have to contact an attorney regarding suing the landlord. The landlord and tenant laws are not that helpful in this regards. The landlord is liable for getting rid of the bed bugs. The tenant may be responsible for their property. You may have to show that the landlord was negligent in order to get compensation for your property. Here is link to the attorney page. Some are specializing in bed bugs

  3. I have a specific situation that involves bedbugs and tenants rights: we moved into an apartment that was apparently infested without the landlord knowing. We discovered them in the first few hours of having moved in (the first night we were there). We left quickly and never slept there, however all of our belongings were exposed. We quickly also found a new apartment. We ended up having to replace most of our things with fabric (did not want to be exposed to the chemicals) to ensure that we would not carry the bugs to our new apartment. Our expenses were significant, and we’d like to know if there is any responsibility on the part of the landlord for our specific situation. Could you direct me to the appropriate source? Thanks so much!

    1. Currently there are not tenant laws that deal specifically with this subject. Some aldermen are considering making making a law dealing with bed bugs. I believe Alderman Osterman is spear heading this ordinance. You might want to call him with and let him know about this situation.

      The issue regarding compensation may revolve around whether the landlord was aware of the problem. If you can show that the landlord knew of the problem your case will be stronger. My suggestion is that you talk with an attorney. I believe that Hall Adams and other attorneys have had some success is suing landlords around the issue of bed bugs. Here is a link to attorney referral page

  4. We have had several tenants with bed bug issues, very serious ones. However the management company (TLC Management) is doing everything they can to hide the truth of this from tenants.They have lied to several tenants and lied to people coming into the building. Someone from the city should have this building inspected.

    1. The City of Chicago is developing a policy around bed bugs. It would be good to call your alderman and let them know that the law should include a section requiring a landlord to disclose if there are bed bugs in the building. You can call 311 and request an inspection. Also MTO has had success with organizing tenants associations to deal with this very problem. Forming tenants associations is the best way to improve the living conditions you are living in.

  5. I have bed bugs in my Forest Park,IL. apartment. I have discussed this issue with the property manager and he and the property owners refuse to exterminate unless i pay half of the cost. Who is responsible for extermination – the property owners or the tenant?

    1. I am not sure what the rules are in Forest Park. In Chicago if there are pests and bed bugs are considered pests in more than one unit of the apartment building then the landlord is responsible. Do you know if anyone else has or has had the pests recently?

  6. I have them in my unit and they are a real nuisance. I am suspect of the “professional” exterminating services and what they are really capable of achieving since so much rests upon tenant “compliance”.

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