Inspectors Find Bed Bugs, Other Problems at SE Albuquerque Apartment

KOB.com (Albuquerque, NM)
Monday, November 7, 2011

The director of the Safe City Strike Force has given the owners of an Albuquerque apartment complex, infested with bed bugs, 30 days to fix the problem, or face citations.

KOB's 4 On Your Side Investigative team first reported the problem on Halloween.

Our cameras were rolling when inspectors arrived Monday.

After meeting with the property manager, all 150 units were inspected by the city's team.

They tested fire alarms, checked the expiration dates on fire extinguishers and inspected indoor and outdoor wiring.

One woman said she was bitten by bed bugs again last night and found one crawling on her leg this morning.

"We shouldn't have to live this way," said the woman, who did not want to be identified.

Now, that woman said she is planning to move out of her apartment at Plaza Dorado later this month.

Property managers told inspectors that they hired a new pest control company last week, which sprayed the units last Thursday, and plans to return once a week until all the bugs are gone.

"A lot of the units we're finding are in pretty filthy condition," Strike Force Director Joe Martinez said.  "We want these units to be livable, clean, safe, and healthy for the residents."

The husband of the property manager said he welcomed the city inspection.

"It wouldn't be a bad thing if the inspectors come like once a month or a few times throughout the year," James Bowen said.  "Everyone, including the tenants, needs to do their best to keep the apartments clean."

Other residents said they were also glad to see inspectors taking notes and documenting some of the property's problems.

"It's keeping our children safe," Rene Romero said.

Romero said she is not worried about bed bugs and said she has not seen any in her apartment yet. She blames the bed bug problem on dumpster divers and kids who try to pick toys out of the trash.

"Someone throws out furniture and then another person goes and picks it up," Romero said.

Bowen said his wife has hired three full-time maintenance men and the property owners, who live in Colorado, have given them a Home Depot card.

"They have the means and the resources to take care of the problems here," Bowen said. "With an older complex there's going to be a few things that need to be fixed up."

A few residents who spoke to KOB said they decided not to pay rent this month.  At least not until the problems are fixed.

But, that could get them evicted.

Instead of withholding rent, Martinez recommended upset residents complete a seven day abatement form required by the courts before withholding their rent payments.

Martinez also recommended apartment shoppers make sure manager's have a good maintenance track record before they sign a lease.

"If it ain't ready the day they want you to look at it, or want you to move in, and they want to collect your money, then don't move in," Martinez said. "If it ain't ready today, it won't be ready tomorrow."