Apartment building overrun with bedbugs
Bedbugs have taken over an apartment building in the west end of St. John's, and they're turning tenants' lives upside down.
Martek, the property owner, says seven units in the Pasadena Crescent complex were found to be infested with bedbugs.
The building had been sprayed three months ago, but tenants say the problem is now even worse.
Resident Regina White said the bugs are everywhere.
"It's scary. It's very scary for me because I'm blind," she said.
While she can't see them, White said she can feel them.
"They're crawling on my legs. I felt one on my hand last night and he went on my leg and bit me. And now I've got bites on my legs and I'm itching."
Tenants have been taking drastic measures to get rid of the pests, including everything from throwing out all of their furniture and bedding, to seeking a doctor for all the scratching.
"I lost all my furniture," said White.
"I got no bed clothes, no sheets, no pillowcases. I got nothing to sleep on. I [need] a bed. I can't sleep on the floor because of all the bedbugs there. I don't know what to be doing with myself."
Now, because she was forced to throw everything out, White sleeps on the floor of an empty room.
"We got stuff up there on the step full of bedbugs and no one will do nothing about it," she said.
'This is not living'
Others in the building are also dealing with the devastating effects of the pests.
"This is not living. This is misery. That's what this is," said Frank Clements.
"You go to bed at night, [and] you're looking in your bed. You don't sleep."
When residents are able to sleep, they often wake up covered in bedbug bites.
"You can't feel a bedbug on you. You don't know it's on you until after he bites you, and then it's like a fly bite. It's really, really itchy," said Clements.
"So, you're scratching and scratching, and then it comes out like a water blatter, and that's when it leaves these scars."
Residents said it only took one problem tenant to bring the bedbugs into the building.
"We're very clean people," said Clements.
"We vacuum every day, we wash every day, we get a shower every day, wash our clothes all the time. But all it takes is one dirtbag next door to you and bango, you're infested."
While Newfoundland and Labrador Housing pays for most of their rent, the department said the bedbug problem is the landlord's responsibility.
But Martek CEO Charlie Oliver is refuting that claim. He said if it was his responsibility as a landlord, he couldn't do anything about it because provincial legislation prevents him from evicting problem tenants.
"We have to follow a whole bunch of protocols and all of us are guided by the Privacy Act, the Charter of Rights, and the Tenancies Act. So as an owner of real estate, we can't simple take somebody and have them moved out," he said.
Oliver said the tenant in question moved out last week, and it's now time for a cleanup. But that's not good enough for the residents who have been dealing with the infestation for months.
"When I get into another housing unit, it will be the happiest day of my life," said White.
"To get away from this place altogether, because this place is not fit to live in. What we're living in now is dirt."