Ashley Hurley insists a bed bug problem that has run rampant through her apartment has become so bad that she and her two children can’t live there anymore until the management fixes it.
After a number of treatments ordered by the superintendent have failed to eradicate the pests from all the rooms of the apartment in the Timbercreek building at 24 Helen Ave., Hurley has been forced to take her family to live temporarily with her mother.
“It’s traumatizing. I just can’t live like this anymore,” Hurley said Wednesday as she, her seven-year-old son Quentin and three-month-old daughter Gabriella sat on the front porch of her mother’s home on Ontario Street.
Hurley has red blotches from bug bites up and down both arms, and Quentin has some as well.
“For the last three months I’ve lived out of garbage bags, trying to keep my clothes away from the bugs. It’s unfair.”
In a call from an Expositor reporter to the apartment building, superintendent “Donna” answered the phone, but as soon as questions were asked, she said, “I have nothing to say to you, sir,” and hung up the phone.
Timbercreek Asset Management officials at the company’s Toronto head office were unavailable for comment.
Hurley, a 25-year-old social worker for group homes who is on maternity leave with Gabriella, said the bed bug infestation first became noticeable shortly after she and Quentin moved into their unit on a lease on Oct. 1, 2011.
“I noticed a bug crawling up my wall in my living room two weeks after moving in,” she said.
Hurley said she told the superintendent – a different one at the time.
She said that superintendent examined it, confirmed it was a bed bug, and said the management had trouble with them in her unit before the young family moved in.
Over the next nine months, that superintendent and her successor ordered 10 spray treatments – all to no avail.
After four treatments, they had to stop temporarily until Gabriella was born because Hurley’s doctor expressed concern about the possible impact on the child during pregnancy.
The treatments resumed after the birth, but the infestations have not abated.
“I have not slept in my bed since March, due to the bugs being on me when I get out of bed in the morning, and being bit at least 30 times a night,” said Hurley.
Furniture she recently acquired through a lease-to-own merchandiser fell prey to infestations within a few days. The company told her it wouldn’t take back the furniture for any exchange.
She said the superintendent told her the landlord won’t reimburse her for all the extra time she has had to launder the clothing, because there is a possibility she might have brought in the pest with her.
On the weekend, Hurley said she awoke on her couch to find two huge nests, and decided she and her family couldn’t stay in the apartment any longer.
“Now I am at the point where I no longer have a place to sleep in my home, and I’m to the point that we have to stay with my mother.”
Hurley’s lease is up for a first-year renewal at the end of September. She is looking for some kind of compensation for her costs, and to be moved to another unit.
“With global travel and new limits on pesticides, bed bugs have spread to just about every city in the world,” the Brant County Health Unit says on its website.
“The fear of being blamed for a bed bug infestation can prevent some people from reporting bed bugs in their home, which only makes the problem worse.
“Rather than try to place blame, it is more important to take action. If we all do our part to prevent, identify and act, we can control this pest.”
The Brant County Health Unit provides information on how to identify a bed bug problem and how to treat it, by referring enquirers to a website, www.bedbugs.ca, which the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has prepared for all health units.
Some facts from the website:
– Bed bugs are small insects, about the size of an apple seed, with oval-shaped bodies and no wings. They usually come out and bite at night.
– Even the cleanest houses, hotels or apartments can get bed bugs, but regular inspection and cleaning can help prevent an infestation.
– One of the best ways to control a beg bug infestation is to spot the problem early and act quickly.
– If you find bed bugs in your home, your local public health unit may be a source of additional source of information, or talk to your landlord, building manager, or a pest control professional.