Since late August, Jordan Little has been forced to live on the streets as Merrimac home has been overrun with bed bugs. He and his two other roommates have spent nearly US$3,000 in rent for a house they could not live in.
Moreover, the landlord has ordered to pay for the extermination, which was haphazardly done. The Psychology senior said he signed the lease last July and have paid for rent all through September. Because of their plight, Director of Off-Campus Student Services Dan Ryan together with City of Buffalo inspectors met with the many other students who have been affected by the bed bug infestation in the area.
As a result, he has been left penniless paying for the rent of a home he cannot live in and is forced to sleep on a friend’s couch. He has been working to break the lease but has been unsuccessful so far.
Little relates, “The landlord said he needed the money in order to pay for the extermination. I expected [the exterminator] to spray everything, but he only sprayed the bedrooms. After that, my roommate still got bit.”
According to Buffalo City Building Inspector Charles Didio, the extermination was one improperly and was likely done by an individual who is not a professional exterminator.
While his two other roommates have not indicated where they live, Little is limited in his options as he has no family he can live with in the area. The high prices of North Campus apartments are limiting his options he and his parents are trying to figure out.
Little added, “I didn’t expect things to be like this for the first semester but it is what it is. I’m not fed up with the Heights. I’m just more cautious now.”
Little is also an aspiring singer known by his stage name Jayo LeGrand. This creates special problems as he has to adjust to his friend’s schedule. While he is an active personality on campus, he has to deal with a very unpredictable schedule on top of his uncertain living arrangements.
He related that after moving into the 97 Merrimac St. home he had rented, he went back to New York City to wait out until the opening of the semester. Upon his return, he found out his apartment was infested with bed bugs. After several phone calls, emails and text messages with his landlord known only as “Victor”, the home was scheduled for fumigation on September 8. Unfortunately, the work was poorly done and after some time, the bed bug infestation returned. Now, each room in the home has been stripped bare with thick covering of an unknown pesticide on the bedroom floors. Hundreds of dollars of bedding and furniture are scattered all over the backyard and side porch of the residence due to the bed bug menace.
According Didio, “We don’t usually see them in Buffalo. They more than likely came from somewhere else and were brought here, but there is really no way to tell how they got there.” Didio explains that an adult bed bug of average size grows to the size of a bean and bugs can spread easily and rapidly throughout a home. He added that the duplex, which can be home for up to six people, cannot be inhabited until the whole house has been properly treated and not just the bedrooms at the top floor.
To this Little responds, “I’ve just got to figure out where I’m moving now. I mean, I can’t stay on a couch forever.”
Aside from the bed bug issue on 97 Merrimac St., other homes have been properly inspected. 240 Merrimac St was found to have serious plumbing and heating issues. The current residents of the home, Zhen Pan and Seng Gao, both second year graduate students of electrical engineering, were dumbfounded to find out that the debris surrounding an open pipe at the basement floor was actually hardened raw sewage. Didio discovered this after he followed the steady dripping sound and saw a previous sewage drain had backed up. He also found that an individual had attached a lower grade plastic drain to the exterior area of the apartment building. What should have been attached, according to the Buffalo City Building Inspector, was a heat rated PVC boiler exhaust pipe.
To this Didio said, “[The plastic drain] is homemade and not meant to do that.”
Another problem area is 49 Merrimac Street. The resident, Sean McGiveron who is taking up exercise science as a junior, related that his landlord Jeremy Dunn does not respond to his tenant’s complaints in a timely manner.
He intimates, “I don’t want to say he’s bad, but he’s definitely lacking.”
After an inspection of the basement of the home inhabited by McGiveron, the heating ducts were held together with towels and bandages, with windows in the basement broken that can result in drafts and other safety issues.
The roommate of McGiveron, Benjamin DiCesare who is in his third year in accounting, is very much concerned about the mildew and mold from the toilet flooding in the basement. DiCesare relates, “So we called [Dunn] and he really didn’t do anything about it until weeks later when he popped in at 8 am one morning without notice. “
McGiveron and other students said that the main benefit of living in the Heights is its proximity to the South Campus. He did say “The area is not good at all. My car just got vandalized. Someone threw a garden gnome into my car window and smashed it. I mean, who does that?”
While there are minor violations such as misuse of hasp locks, lack of smoke and detectors and handrails on stairwells, these are but light compared to Little, who up to now is still searching for a bed bug free place to live.
To avoid problems such as these, contact a trusted pest control company. Don’t be fooled by fly-by-night companies who charge cheaply but do haphazard work.
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