Cleveland Renters Eaten Up With Bed Bugs

WRCBtv.com (Chattanooga, TN)
Thursday, January 10, 2013

CLEVELAND, TN - Some renters in Bradley County are both fed up and eaten up with bed bugs. People living at the Cleveland apartment complex called Channel 3 saying the property manager is not doing enough to solve the problem.

"I pay $580 a month rent and I do it to live in bed bugs that eat me up every time I sleep," says Christina Newby.

Newby has a jar full of bed bugs she says came from her Green Drive apartment in Cleveland. "I itched it so much that my scars never went away," she says.

Newby and other residents showed Channel 3 the bites on their arms and legs and backs. "After it being in here for a few months, we're infested with them." says resident Betty Wheeler.

Wheeler's 3 month old son has bites. "We don't even know what to do. We've told the managers, I've talked to the maintenance people. And they've all said, 'Well, just get some chemicals,'" says Wheeler.

They have bought sprays, but say they do not work. "I'm just trying to get rid of it. I've bombed my place, it's not doing any good," says resident Crystalyn Johnson.

Newby had to get rid of her bed and now sleeps on her couch. She and other renters say they have called the property management company to complain. "The landlord just hung up on me, pretty much, told me not to call his phone again or I'd be evicted," says Newby.

We contacted property manager David Vincent. He declined an on-camera interview, but agreed to talk over the phone.

"That's the first I've ever heard anything about bed bugs. We've always had problems with roaches over there. We spray once a month religiously, every month," says Vincent. He says the tenants brought in the bugs. He also says some of the renters complaining are ones being evicted.

"Usually when there's somebody being evicted out there, people bring all their furniture and everything out on the streets and they're all out there picking it up and carrying it back into their apartments. That's probably where they're getting them from," says Vincent.

"We moved in with nothing but an air mattress. So we knew we didn't have beg bugs then," says Wheeler.

"I think he's just using that as an excuse because people have bed bugs, they don't want to pay their rent. I didn't pay my rent last week. I'm not going to lie. Because I plan on moving out of here because of what's going on," says Newby.

Besides moving out, Newby says she plans on contacting the Division of Consumer Affairs. It handles complaints in the state of Tennessee for disputes between landlords and tenants.

She also took her complaint to the health department, but they do not get involved unless it is a multi-unit dwelling like a hotel or motel.