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Bedbugs cause landlord-tenant issues in Michigan apartments

Bedbugs are at the center of a landlord-tenant dispute in Michigan. According to reports, Greenbriar Apartments issued a notice to its tenants on Feb. 19 that maintenance would begin throwing out all furniture in residents' apartments that was deemed infested by the insects. The notice, left under the door, stated that the disposal would start the next day at 9 a.m.

Residents are complaining that management has overstepped itself by allegedly requiring that tenants either let the furniture be thrown out or face eviction. A representative of the Holland Community and Neighborhood Services Department said that while it does seem extreme, the landlords also have to protect their investments.

Management for Greenbriar Apartments issued a statement saying that it had been working with the city of Holland, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Michigan State Housing Development Authority since last year to take care of the bed bug infestation and that it was complying with HUD's guidelines. The guidelines specify that furniture in all common areas should be thrown away but do not address furniture in individual apartments.

According to reports, the community policing officer was called to the apartments on Feb. 20 -- the day the disposal was to begin. Two of the residents were apparently not cooperating with the removal. The officer did not force the residents to give up the furniture but encouraged them to comply with the request.

Landlords are responsible for maintaining properties, and that can sometimes mean dealing with challenging landlord-tenant disagreements. In this particular case, bed bugs are not covered under the building code so it's unclear whether the landlords could actually evict the tenants if they did not comply. It is possible that the case could end up in the courts to determine what the management can legally do to protect its investment in a case like this.

Source: Holland Sentinel, "Greenbriar residents claim intimidation over bed bugs" Andrea Goodell, Feb. 25, 2014

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