Downside of Hippie Christmas

Posted August 13th, 2014 @ 7:56 AM by

Tenant Resource Center’s annual warning to folks who don’t always think things through . . .

Don’t Make “Hippie Christmas” A Moving Day for Pests & Bedbugs!

Thousands of tenants are moving this week and their insect companions may be moving too! Prevention is key to stopping the progress of bedbugs through Madison, especially since confusion over the new laws is making tenants less likely to report an infestation, for fear of getting charged – even if they aren’t liable. (More below.)

“Hippie Christmas” is the annual curb-side shopping spree on August 14 when tenants leave clothes, furniture, books, appliances, and other possessions on the side of the street, free to a good home. Along with the garbage trucks, they are joined by a number of curbside shoppers. Here are some very important reminders for anyone snagging second-hand stuff:
· Inspect all items closely for signs of pests: live or dead insects, eggs, and rust-colored or soil-like feces.
· No matter what they look like, leave upholstered items on the curb! Cockroaches and bedbugs love the dark, tight spaces in fabric – and in cardboard boxes.
· If you are moving and throwing away things like mattresses or pillows that you believe might be infested, spray-paint them with “BED BUGS” or a giant “X” to warn others away from taking them home. Remember: We’re all in this together!

Bedbug information in several languages:

The latest tenant landlord law (2013 Wisconsin Act 76, effective March 1, 2014) took away many tenant protections and stripped most local controls. It also added some confusing language about pests that has mislead both tenants and landlords into thinking tenants automatically have to pay for the cost of pest extermination. This is not true, and has never been true! Pests are now specifically listed as an example of something tenants could be charged for – but the landlord would still have to prove the infestation was the tenant’s fault. This is notoriously difficult with bed bugs.

Bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide, can live for up to a year without feeding, and some people do not even react to their bites – making it hard to telling when an infestation started, and who did what to bring it on. The cost of extermination, which can be thousands of dollars, is already “presumed reasonable unless proved otherwise by the tenant.” If their landlord quotes the revised law out of context, tenants now have one more reason to be afraid of reporting a bedbug infestation, and may rely on home remedies that make the problem worse – for everyone!

QUESTIONS? WE HAVE EXTRA HOURS THIS WEEK! Find us the Central Park Sessions on 8/14, Schenk Corners Block Party & AfricaFest at Warner Park on 8/16, and Triangle Ethnic Fest at Braxton Terrace on 8/17!

FOR FORMS, SAMPLE LETTERS, AND MORE INFORMATION – Website: | Phone: (608) 257-0006 Walk-in Counseling: (MAIN OFFICE) 1202 Williamson Street Ste. 102 (Mon – Fri, 9 – 6) (UW CAMPUS OFFICE) 3rd Floor, Student Activity Center, 333 E. Campus Mall (Mon 12-5 & Thur 9-3)

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