New York City has been in the news a lot lately for the bedbug infestations in various high-rise buildings.
New York City has been in the news a lot lately for the bedbug infestations in various high-rise buildings. Now, tenants at the Vue Apartments on Portland State’s campus are reporting bedbug bites.
“It’s super-humiliating to me,” said Mary Eng, a previous tenant of the Vue who was forced to move out of her apartment because of bedbugs.
Eng and her mother moved into two adjacent apartment units in the Vue at the end of June 2010. Eng said she wanted to live close to her 67-year-old mother in order to take care of her, reconnect with her and attend PSU at the same time.
“The first week we didn’t know what it was,” Eng said, referring to the little bites that started to appear on her and her mother’s body. When she found out the bites were caused by bedbugs, she was in shock.
Eng and her mother lived with bedbugs for months, and were forced to throw away many of their possessions. Finally, in early November, the two moved out of the apartment complex.
Eng is a student of paralegal studies at PSU and has been using her blog to spread the word about the bedbug problem in the Vue and to “translate” the complex maze that is law pertaining to bedbugs.
Eng said that the Vue should have made her and her mother aware of the bedbug situation upon move-in. According to Eng, because tenants were not made aware of the existing problem, the Vue cannot legally take money for tenants’ leases.
Eng’s story is not an unfamiliar one at PSU; the Park Plaza apartments have had a history of bedbug problems as well. Both the Vue and Park Plaza are managed by Riverstone Residential and are not campus housing. While the bedbug situation in the Vue has yet to result in any immediate life-threatening situations, the occurence in Park Plaza last year did. According to an article published by KGW on Jan. 19, the girlfriend of a PSU student was admitted to the emergency room because of bedbug bites she received. Later, doctors realized she was allergic to the bites.
According to Mike Lieseld, a representative of the City of Portland Neighborhood Inspector, the organization received a complaint of bedbugs, mold and rodent infestation in Park Plaza in early December of 2009.
In September, the neighborhood inspector also received a complaint about similar bedbug problems in the Vue. However, due to scheduling conflicts, the organization was not able to gain access to any of the infested units to make an official inspection.
At PSU Student Legal Services, Staff Attorney Lynn Clarke said that “last year [SLS was] able to secure successful resolutions and settlements” for victims of the bedbugs in Park Plaza. Lynn said that while she is aware of pending cases with Eng and a number of other students, no formal complaints about the Vue have been filed with SLS.
“As a result of the impact bedbugs are having all over the country, we advise all tenants in our rental agreements that there is the possibility of bedbugs and that we will do our best to remedy problems as soon as we are aware of them,” said Thomas Rask, an attorney for Riverstone Residential.
According to Rask, Riverstone’s policy is to immediately respond to any problems that tenants make them aware of.
In the case of bedbugs, Rask said that Riverstone Residential relies on professional exterminators to treat any potential infestations.
“In fact, as a result of our aggressive treatment we have had great success in managing bedbug issues,” Rask said. ?”While we believe [Eng’s] claim of bedbugs in her unit was unfounded, as a precaution we requested assistance from our professional experts and monitored Ms. Eng’s unit to make sure there were no problems…Our professional experts inspected her unit after she left and determined that there were no bedbugs.”
Another tenant in the Vue, Kevin Killian, said that while the bedbugs aren’t actually in his unit yet, he knows that he is surrounded on either side by two units that do have bedbugs. He said that he is trying to keep them at bay for as long as possible by “spraying everything and constantly cleaning the rug by the door.”
According to a Terminix customer service representative, all apartments adjacent to the infested unit must be treated for bedbugs.
“If you only treat one unit, they will just go to the one next door,” the representative said.
Killian expressed concern for how the Vue will handle the bedbug problem because of how the Vue has treated him in the past; Killian said he was ignored when he requested repairs in his unit. In addition, he recently witnessed water damage and leaks on the lobby ceiling. ?