UPDATE: On Friday afternoon, an official with the housing commission said Kultau hired a pest control company to inspect and take measures to eradicate the bed bugs. The official said that bed bugs were found in four of the six units of the complex. The duplex that Kultau has on the site was found to be bed bug free.
The East Ridge Housing Commission met in a special called meeting on Wednesday afternoon to address the problem of a bed bug infestation in a small apartment complex on Bennett Road.
Code Enforcement officer Charlie Ritchey told commissioners that he went to the complex at 4005 Bennett Road on Aug. 15 in response to a complaint by a tenant in Apt. No. 2 of bed bugs. Ritchey said that he did indeed see bedbugs or evidence of bed bugs in every room. He said after concluding his inspection of the unit another tenant approached him and complained of bed bugs in his apartment as well.
Ritchey told the commissioners that he then contacted the apartment building’s owner, Scott Kultau, and asked to inspect all six of the apartments in the complex. On Aug. 20, Ritchey said that he inspected additional apartments and found bed bugs. One of the units was not available for inspection as the tenant is in the process of being evicted.
“The entire apartment is infected with bed bugs,” Ritchey said. “To my knowledge, nothing has been done to treat them.”
Kultau said that he simply has not been given enough time to deal with the bed bug infestation. Kultau told commissioners code enforcement did the inspection on Aug. 20 and that he got served to appear before the commission on Wednesday, Aug. 29.
“I’m working as fast as I can,” he said.
He said he had been in contact with a local exterminator and made arrangements to have extermination of the bed bugs performed on September 4.
Kultau, who has an engineering degree, said as he understood the city ordinance. that both tenant and landlord share responsibility for pest control.
“I did not pull a truck up there and dump (bed bugs),” he said.
Housing Commission Chairman Jim Winters disagreed. Winters said that he had researched various elements of pest infestations and that the only way a landlord would not be liable is if a pre-inspection was performed and documented in the lease.
Commissioner Lynda Stephens asked counsel Mark Litchford what recourse the housing commission had.
“I’m concerned about the welfare of the tenants in and around the complex,” she said.
Litchford said that Title 13 of the City Code states that the city can order remedial action be taken and require the landlord to get a certificate of extermination.
Commissioner Earl Wilson said that a number of schoolchildren live in the apartment complex and that they could unwittingly transport bed bugs to East Ridge schools compounding the problem.
“Something needs to be done immediately,” Wilson said. “We can’t continue to place our community at risk.”
Wilson made a motion that Kultau get an exterminator into the complex by 5 p.m. on Thursday to begin dealing with the bed bugs. He asked that Kultau report back to Ritchey that steps to address the problem have begun.
The commission passed the motion unanimously. Chairman Winters said the housing commission will revisit and address the issue at its next meeting on September 10.