Champaign, IL 61820
“Annie, this apartment has a great layout and looks new, but the mattresses have mold on them.” This was the approximate first comment that I made after seeing my daughter’s apartment on the day she moved in (June 15). Little did she know about the ongoing hell she was going to experience within days and that would continue in the weeks ahead because of the “moldy” mattresses.
I, as well as my husband in a separate letter, am writing to you on behalf of Annie. We have felt helpless on the sidelines while Annie, Doug, and Binz, (the other tenants), dealt with Campus Property Mgmt and the bed bug infestation. They have also sought legal counsel, and your name and CPM were familiar names. The infestation in that apartment was large in scope. It is hard to imagine a reputable landlord would not be aware of such. If you were aware, then your actions were irresponsible and showed a lack of integrity towards meeting the need of your tenancy. Attached is the timeline of events regarding bed bug situation.
If you were aware of proper procedures for bed bug infestation, why would visibly infested mattresses be in place prior to moving in? When the mattresses were eventually removed, the downstairs manager carried them from the third floor, down the stairs or elevator, to dispose. Bed bugs are known hitchhikers and difficult to eradicate. A knowledgeable landlord would know that infected mattresses should be encased and labeled as infested. Every step of the way in dealing with this situation, you chose the path of least resistance, effectiveness, and cost. Nothing was done each step of the way unless Annie or the other tenants brought to your attention the matter of effectively dealing with bed bugs.
Annie Syrowski, my daughter, was the first of the four tenants to move into this property on June 15. The other three were joining her in July and August when their previous leases expired. Fortunately, for them, but not for Annie, she was the “fall guy” for the nightmare to follow. If everyone had moved in at the same time, the physical, financial, psychological consequences as well as time and effort spent on dealing with the bed bug infestation would have been times four.
The psychological and financial costs and time and effort spent addressing this situation has been high for Annie. She was bitten all over her body in one night. Bed bugs can go a long time without a blood meal and lay in wait for a host. A lot of them had been waiting awhile for a good meal. The bites looked like red welts. More than ¾ of Annie’s belongings were thrown out (25-30 green plastic garbage bags 30 gallons each)…including clothes, shoes, all bedding, computer bag, filtered sweeper to mention a few which amounts to hundreds of dollars. She spent two weeks inspecting, filtering, and treating items she had to keep. The trips back home to Ohio, replacing items, hotel bills, and time lost from focusing on research which pays her bills have been costly. Still, the continued uncertainty of not having control of the situation continues to be unsettling.
It is my understanding that you agreed to let the four out of their lease if another tenant could be found.
And that one was found and would be moving in at the end of July. At the very least, please reimburse Annie for June’s rent and the July rent (July split between Annie and Binz). Annie has paid a high price because of your lack of good stewardship with regards to addressing the bed bug infestation in a knowledgeable and effective manner.
Cc: Better Business Bureau
The Daily Illini
Champaign Urban Public Health District
Since late last spring, my daughter, Annie, was looking forward to moving to Victoria Point with three other students. She had just spent her first year alone in grad school acclimating herself to her new surroundings . Everyone was looking forward in the coming year to enjoy the amenities afforded to tenants in this apartment complex. After moving in to Victoria Point in June, Annie was planning to settle in and spend the summer focusing on her research before continuing with classes in the fall.
I helped her move into VP on June 15. After her belongings were brought in and placed in her bedroom (on the floor and bed) and kitchen, we went back to the former apt. to clean it according to lease specifications. Then the plan was to go back to VP and clean, unpack and get settled in the new place.
I thought the layout, size, appliances of the apt. was very nice. The comment I made to Annie was that there was mold on the mattresses. I suggested she take a mattress with the least mold. Unbeknownst to us at the time, I wasn’t looking at mold but signs and evidence of bed bug infestation.
When we got back to VP, Annie started to clean and disinfect the bathrooms while I was going to clean the kitchen. There was fecal matter and urine stains on toilet, and toothpaste in the sink. She didn’t feel it was her responsibility to clean up someone else’s personal mess who had used the apt after the lease had been signed. Annie contacted the manager downstairs. The manager downstairs said the apt was used by friends of the owner and was not cleaned after they left. We both felt it was not Annie’s responsibility to clean up someone else’s personal mess before moving in. So, the manager said a cleaning crew would clean the bathrooms the next day (June 16).
Since the cleaning crew wasn’t coming in until the next day to clean, I did not want to sleep at the apt. and use the dirty bathroom. So, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express that night. At the time I resented having to pay for a hotel room; the only other alternative was to clean up your friends personal mess which neither Annie or me were responsible. But, it was a blessing in disguise; I would have slept on the infested mattress.
On Wednesday, June 16, the cleaning company cleaned the bathrooms in the afternoon. Annie then spent time unpacking clothes and belongings and putting them away. Doug (one of the tenants that would be moving in mid-August ) was also assisting with unpacking. Since cable and internet would not be installed until Friday, I preferred to stay in the hotel again and Annie stayed with me as well.
Thursday, June 17
I left for Ohio on Thursday morning. Annie spent the day in and out of the apartment.
Since she didn’t have internet and cable yet, she spent the night at Doug’s place.
Friday, June 18, Annie put her sheets on her bed and finished putting her belongings away. It was either Thursday or Friday as she was putting her stuff away, she noticed a bug on her sleeping bag and one in the bathroom where the laundry was placed. This was the first night that Annie slept in the VP apartment.
Saturday, June 19, Annie left VP apt. at 3 p.m. to attend a seminar in Colorado for a week.
Annie arrived back from Colorado on Sunday, June 27. Doug came over; they sat on Annie’s bed to watch a movie on her laptop. A bug crawled across Doug’s face. They both got up to check her sheets that she had put on her bed before she left for Colorado. Evidence of infestation was found in the seams of her fitted sheet. They took the sheets off the bed and put in washer. They hemmed and hawed about what to do. In the second bedroom, they saw a live bug and stains on mattress as well.
They ended up taking the sheet that was on the couch and put it on the mattress in the third bedroom, and then slept on that mattress Sunday night.
Monday, June 28, both woke up with bug bites. Annie’s bites were all over her back, arms, and legs. Doug’s bites were mostly on his legs. Internet research information and pictures confirmed bed bug infestation (evidence of nymphs in fitted sheet, spotted mattresses, and seeing live adult bugs).
That was the last night that Annie slept in the VP apt.
Dough contacted Cody, the manager downstairs. He was told Knights Cleaning co. would treat mattresses and carpets by shampooing.
Annie took some of her belongings and both slept at Doug’s place on Monday night. Received a few more bites; in retrospect, probably from infected clothing.
Tuesday, June 29
Annie and Doug went back to VP apt. when Knights Cleaning Company arrived. The two men looked at the mattresses and said they would need more than a squirt bottle of g-5 solution. They would come back on Wednesday.
Annie began process of sorting clothes in plastic bags for laundry and for trash.
Wednesday, June 30
Knights Cleaning came and treated with g-5. Annie wasn’t sure if they just sprayed and/or shampooed. She contacted MJ, the owner, and he said micro ban cleaners were used on mattresses.
In the meantime, after continuing to research bed bugs, Annie contacted the downstairs manager and Michael Jay, the owner, and felt the mattresses should be removed. The visible effect s of infestation on the apt. mattresses looked worse than the pics on the websites. She also told him that the cleaning company alone would not be able to eliminate the bed bug infestation.
Annie, Binz, and Doug (three of the four who were leasing this apt) contacted MJ and asked that mattresses and box springs be removed because of the heavy signs of infestation. Cody, the downstairs manager, carried them out.
That night, Annie and Doug stayed at a motel.
Thursday, July 1
Annie, Doug and Binz met with the exterminator, Presto-x, at 8 a.m. Treatment involved perimeter of all rooms separate from fogging. The exterminator said they would reinspect in two weeks. Bed bug infestations of this scope requires more than one extermination and other diligent practices to eradicate. MJ could not give a written confirmation that bed bug problem was eliminated but still would not release them from lease.
Annie and Doug left to stay at his parents in Chicago on Thursday, since Annie did not have a place to stay.
Friday, July 2
Annie called me in the morning with continued distraught over this situation and how everything was in disarray. She was not comfortable staying in Chicago with all her stuff back at the infested apt. in Champaign. Doug was going to take her back to Champaign and her plan was to sort stuff to throw out and bag what she was keeping and drive back home to Ohio.
She called me again from Champaign later in day and not everything would fit in her car and seeing a few bugs was upsetting. I told her to just come home with what she had and I would accompany her back to Champaign after the holiday weekend to get the rest of her stuff.
Annie spent the holiday weekend sorting and examining every item in the bags, going to laundry and disinfecting non-washable items.
Tuesday, July 6
We drove back to Champaign to finish getting belongings from apt. We put plastic bags on our feet while walking around the apt. Annie continued to bag and throw out possessions. She found a live adult bed bug on the bathroom floor.
New mattresses, box spring, bed frames, chest of drawers, couch, chair, and upholstered dining chairs were in place.
We headed back to Ohio the following day, Weds., July 7.
Annie spent the following weekend sifting and sorting again the remainder of stuff she brought home.
In one of the last bags that she went through, crawling along a book binding was a baby bed bug.
In addition, it has been a challenge to continue work on her research with her professor and colleagues from Chicago and Ohio.
Tuesday, July 13
Annie left for Champaign to meet with prospective landlords for a new place to live. She found a place but could not move in until Wednesday, July 21. She left her car filled with her belongings in Champaign and stayed with a friend in Chicago until move in day.