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Grand Rapids has the 12th worst city in the country for Bed Bugs, not the headline Grand Rapids leaders want to share

January 19, 2023

It’s not the fun, upbeat list that Grand Rapids like to share about itself, whether we are talking about the city government or the tourism industry, but bed bug infestation is a serious problem in this city.

The pest control company, Orkin, released their annual list of the worst cities for bed bug infestation on January 9th. Not surprising, MLive picked up the story, but pretty much just used the content from Orkin’s Press Release.

Lazy journalism seems to be the norm these days, which is very unfortunate for the public, especially for something like bed bug infestation. The Grand Rapids Area Tenant Union says that they receive calls regularly about bed bug infestation. However, the problem is that they can’t provide much support on the matter, both because, landlords often include language in the lease agreement, which makes tenants responsible for bed bug extermination, regardless if the bed bugs were there before the tenants. The cost of exterminating bed bugs is substantial and tenants have to vacate the premises for at least 24 – 48 hours. 

Then there is the issue of there being no state policy around bed bug infestation and who is responsible for said infestation. There is legislation (HB 5412)  that was introduced in October of 2021, but that proposed legislation has only been referred to Committee on Regulatory Reform, which has not discussed the matter, nor have they held any public hearings. 

The failure to act by state government on this matter is not surprising, for various reasons, one of which is the fact that the Property Management Association has a PAC and makes significant campaign contributions during every election cycle, as you can see from this example from state campaign finance filings from October of 2022.  The same is the case for more regional landlords, like the Rental Property Owners Association of Kent County, who made contributions to candidates running in Kent County.

In addition, MLive could have tried to contact tenants to talk about this issue, so that readers could have a better sense of the actual realities of living in a bed bug infested apartment and being forced to pay for the extermination yourself. Doing so would require that MLive would actually practice journalism and not take the easy route of just re-wording industry Press Releases. 

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