Ordinance: Chicago landlords must fight bedbugs

January 29, 2013 3:27:50 PM PST
The Chicago City Council is fine tuning an ordinance that would declare bedbugs a public nuisance and hold landlords responsible for getting rid of them.

"We just want a plan on the books. We want to be proactive. Bedbugs are difficult to get rid of and we want to make sure everyone is prepared," Ald. Debra Silverstein, 50 Ward, said.

Alonzo Carter has dealt with bedbugs off and on for the past few years.

"In the seam of the furniture and same thing on the mattress. The seam of the mattress where they live," Carter said.

Carter's not alone in his fight against the tiny pests. Bedbugs have become so prevalent in Chicago that Orkin Pest Control announced they did more business in the Windy City in 2012 than in any other city.

Chicago aldermen hope an ordinance that holds landlords responsible for hiring licensed professional to fight bedbugs in their buildings will remove Chicago from the top of that list. Landlords who fail to comply would pay fines of up to $1,000 a day.

During a hearing on the ordinance Tuesday, some people raised concerns about the need for cooperation between tenants and landlords to tackle bedbug problems.

"I like that they are mandating that they have pest control companies in there. Part of the things I do not think they cover very well is exactly what happens if the tenant does not cooperate. A lot of our biggest problems out there [are] the tenant not doing what we recommend that they do or that the property owners say that they do," said Daniel Wondaal, Allied Services Pest Control.

"Through direct work with renters we have been alerted to many cases in which tenants were blamed for bedbug infestations and harassed into leaving their homes," Patricia Fron, Lawyers Committee for Better Housing, said.

"Realtors have a code of ethics. This is not the type of behavior that's accepted. If tenants feel those problems, there are a number of organizations that represent those individuals and we are more than happy to go after bad actors within our industry," Brian Bernardoni, Chicago Area Association of Realtors, said.