Bed Bugs Bite in Landlord-Tenant Dispute

Once bitten, twice shy

Inattentive landlords and hotel owners: consider this a warning. Those tiny bugs that congregate around your sleeping quarters can become more than just a pain in your hind quarters. After the well-publicized infestations that occurred in the Big Apple and several other large cities across the United States, people and the civil court system have become far more cognizant of these pesky nuisances. In one of the more eye-opening verdicts, an Annapolis woman was awarded a windfall settlement of $800,000. The jury who heard the case was clearly intending to send a not-so-subtle message to negligent property owners.

The plaintiff in this case, 69-year-old Faika Shaaban, moved into a home owned by the defendant in late 2011. Shortly following her arrival, she levied a bedbug complaint to the landlord Cornelius J. Barrett and West Street Partnership, which fell upon deaf ears. What followed in the subsequent months, aside from heavy calamine lotion usage, was Ms. Shaaban moving her complaint up the chain of command. The city authorities proceeded to legitimize Ms. Shaaban’s indictment and ordered Mr. Barrett to hire a licensed professional pest control contractor. Refusing to be pushed around by City Authorities, Mr. Barret balked at the orders and eventually sent Ms. Shaaban her walking papers. Adding insult to bug bite, Ms. Shaabans infested belongings were nicely assembled curbside, and select items were looted.

What the jury took exception to was the gross disregard Mr. Barrett and West Street Partnership had for Ms. Shaaban’s claims. What can be taken away from this is that tenants have every right to live in an inhabitable area, and landlords not heeding the complaints of the tenant and not attempting to legitimately remedy the situation like the bed bugs could come to bite you in the behind.

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