A woman in Davenport finds herself living in a nightmare she can’t escape.
She says her apartment building has had a bedbug infestation for months and management isn’t taking care of it.
Local 4 news investigates.
Shari Arnold lives in the Summer Ridge Apartment complex.
This isn’t the first complaint we’ve heard about it.
We brought you the story in July about two veterans being evicted there.
Management didn’t give us a reason for that.
Now, three other tenants are speaking out about a bug problem.
Arnold’s apartment has almost no furniture.
Clothes are still bagged up and there are no beds.
You wouldn’t think she moved in more than a month ago.
But what’s meant to be a refuge for the single mom working 12-hour shifts has quickly become a place of fear.
“Climbing up my wall, they were on our clothes,” Arnold recalls.
Arnold noticed the problem just days after signing a lease with Summer Ridge Apartments.
“I would get three bites in one spot and then my kids would get it so much worse,” Arnold says.
Arnold reported the bed bugs to management.
We reached out to them, too.
The property manager says they pretreated the unit before Arnold moved in and treated it twice more since her complaint.
They also say Arnold has been misleading.
But the single mom says they didn’t do enough.
She came home to powder lining her rooms and bedbugs still crawling everywhere.
“I go to make my daughter Spaghetti-Os last night and there’s a bedbug running under the microwave,” Arnold says.
Management says Arnold brought in the bugs but Elizabeth Plocar has lived in the building for two and a half years.
“The people that were here before her had also experienced it. The problems started across the hall and those people left,” Plocar says.
Management also tells us no units were infested before Arnold moved in.
Arnold and Plocar say that’s not true.
“People downstairs in apartment four had a problem and they hadn’t brought in anything and they have since moved out, too. So, it has now been a problem in three apartments,” Plocar says.
And she says it’s all been reported to management.
“Both of these apartments were vacant and something should’ve been done to absolutely resolve the problem,” says Plocar.
For Arnold, the problem has not only gotten expensive..,
“Half of my paycheck goes to bug bombs, week after week after week, just to live with them all over again,” she says.
But time consuming…
“[I] spray myself completely, throwing away my clothes as soon as I leave here so that I’m not transferring it to people.”
“I come home, I am scared to death to go to sleep,” Arnold says.
Local 4 News spoke with Arnold’s neighbor across the hall.
She didn’t want to go on camera but did confirm that she also had a bed bug infestation.
She says she refused to pay rent until management took care of the problem and ended up moving out last week when that didn’t happen.
Local 4 News investigated to find out what rights you have as a tenant if you find yourself in this situation.
In Illinois, landlords have to make sure their apartments are habitable.
That includes being free of bed bugs.
If a landlord can prove that a tenant brought the bed bugs into the unit, they may be able to charge for removal services.
In most cases, that’s difficult to prove.
An Iowa attorney says check your lease first in that state.
Some contracts might put the cost of extermination on the tenant.
The attorney says landlords should be held responsible for bedbug elimination in most cases.
What if your landlord doesn’t do anything?
Iowa law lets you end your rental agreement if you can show that non-compliance affects your health and safety.
You can the draft a notice to send to your landlord, but that could have consequences.
“If the landlord does not remedy the bedbug situation in the seven days then the rental agreement does terminate in the seven days so then that tenant would want to be prepared to move out,” says Leah Patton, managing attorney for Iowa Legal Aid.
Experts recommend contacting an attorney for advice if you find bedbugs.
Illinois and Iowa Legal Aid provide free help for low-income residents.
Their offices are in Rock Island and Davenport.