Landlords Troubled by Public Disclosure of Bedbug Sightings in Rental Properties

by Chris on March 24, 2011

In 2006, a writer and computer programmer was bitten by bedbugs.  That prompted him to set up a bedbug registry to warn others who may share the same spaces.  He says he did it out of vengeance– but not against property owners.  The registry was his revenge against the bugs.

Currently, there are over 20,000 reports on this registry, listing specific addresses of rental properties and hotels throughout Canada and the U.S. where the bedbugs have purportedly been sighted.

New rental applicants can simply plug in a property address and find out if former tenants have seen or heard about bedbugs there.

This bedbug registry, contained on the website bedbugregistry.com, has some landlords concerned, including Paula Simon, executive officer with the Saskatchewan Rental Housing Industry Association. She told CBC News that she has reservations about whether some of the postings were true sightings, and feels the listings are unfair to landlords because they remain online long after an infestation is treated.

Anyone can post an entry on the registry, which includes an address of a rental property or hotel and a short narrative.  The author can remain anonymous, although they are instructed that if they name a specific property manager or landlord, they should include their own name as well.  Authors are encouraged to post positive information about the landlord if they were responsive to the bedbug invasion. 

Viewers can search the site for matching addresses, view a list of properties in the area with reported sightings, or compare statistics across the country.  Vancouver has 184 complaints, Ontario 497, while Nova Scotia has 78. There are dozens of Calgary and Edmonton properties listed, including one anonymous posting that says the tenants are to blame for not properly preparing their apartments for pest control, which has failed to stop “roving infestations.” 

The website provides email alerts that notify subscribers of any new postings within a mile of a specified address.

Bedbugregistry.com does not verify the truthfulness of the entries. In fact, the site administrator acknowledges that information could have been provided by “malicious tenants, evil competitors, and hypochondriacs.” 

Nevertheless, the entries will remain in place for two years after the last bedbug sighting, or until the author asks for it to be taken down.  The site offers a dispute process if the landlord feels the claim is overstated or false.  Those entries will be marked for new readers as disputed, but they will not be taken off the website without the permission of the author.

Although bedbugs can appear literally anywhere, there is still some stigma attached to an infestation, as though the property is not well-kept.

As the bedbug pandemic spreads, the  bedbug registry stands to gain in popularity. 

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive  Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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