A senior citizen wants to stay in her apartment, but her landlord wants to evict her over bed bugs that won’t go away. Now, the case is heading to court.
Virginia Dale has been complaining about bed bugs in her apartment for years. Exterminators have sprayed, but the bugs are still there.
The landlord is now saying she’s the problem and needs to move out.
Dale, 68, has lived at Martin Luther King Apartments for eight years. The bed bugs moved in five years go.
She tried to treat the problem herself, but then finally complained to management.
“The bugs would be gone for maybe two or three months, and then they'd be back,” said Dale. “So, I'd call again. Then I'd call again. ‘Them bugs are back. Well, what are you doing?’”
The apartment complex treated bed bugs five times in 2014, three times in 2015 and twice in 2016. “They've spent $6,000 on me,” Dale said.
Dale says the apartment complex can’t get rid of the bed bugs, so they’ve decided to get rid of her and are claiming she’s the problem.
The letter mailed to her states: “You have failed to keep your unit in a neat and sanitary condition. You were advised to remove and clean bedding, clothing and furniture. You failed to do so. Your failure to clean is the source of the continued problem with bed bugs in your unit.”
“I got rid of a couch,” Dale said. “I got rid of a chair! I got rid of blankets and sheets and things!”
Martin Luther King Apartments won’t name the pest company that treated the apartments or how many apartments are infested.
KCTV5 News was not allowed on the property, so Dale provided pictures from inside her apartment. She claims other neighbors also have bed bugs; “[There are] 17 other people that have bed bugs -- just on my floor!”
“It's actually impossible to say, ‘Here's the source of the problem,’” says Mike Sawyer, who works for the health department. “You don't know.”
He says bed bugs are difficult to treat. There’s powder, sprays and heat. Additionally, if you don’t wipe out the problem, you can actually create a stronger bed bug.
“Believe it or not,” says Sawyer, “the research shows baby bed bugs will go hide in the shells/skins of adult bed bugs to avoid the spray. So, they have developed new behaviors as well. They've learned.”
Here are some gross facts about bed bugs:
They can live an entire year without eating
One female bed bug can lay 500 eggs
Some bed bugs are becoming heat resistant by developing thicker skins
Other bed bugs can withstand chemicals.
“How could she blame me?” Dale questions.
Dale is fighting her eviction, saying this apartment complex has been her home for eight years. She has a lawyer through legal aid and has contacted the elder abuse hotline.
The manager and the lawyer representing the apartment complex both declined to speak to KCTV5 News on camera, but say they stand by the letter they sent to Dale informing her she needs to move out.
The case heads to court tomorrow morning.
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