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Mark Mayes: Couple being evicted after bed bugs allegations

Mohammad Alqadhi and his wife say they are being evicted over a pest they’ve never seen and don’t believe exists within their Lansing apartment.

Alqadhi’s refusal last month to allow exterminators to treat the couple’s apartment for bed bugs — and charge him $1,029 — without proof of the insects’ presence was followed by an immediate nonrenewal notice from Trappers Cove, leaving them searching for a new home.

Thasin Sardar, Islamic Society of Greater Lansing president, said Trappers Cove has never responded to Alqadhi’s request for inspection reports that show his apartment is infested with bed bugs. They also never explained why Alqadhi is responsible for treatment costs or provided assurances that the extermination would not affect his wife’s pregnancy, said Sardar, who is serving as Alqadhi’s representative due to a language barrier.

“We never said we wanted to deny the treatment,” Sardar said.

“We tried to ask them to show us the proof.”

Alqadhi and his wife, Aroob Alwadie, signed a six-month lease at Trappers Cove this summer after arriving from Saudi Arabia so he could attend Michigan State University.

Treatment scheduled

After the complex initiated several inspections for bed bugs, Alqadhi received a Nov. 21 letter stating his apartment would be treated for the pests in one week and he was responsible for the $1,029 charge.

The letter also advised Alqadhi to contact the office with questions, which he did. Alqadhi first sought answers by himself and then contacted Sardar, who helped him put his questions in writing.

Instead of issuing a response to Alqadhi, a Trappers Cove representative showed up with exterminators on the scheduled treatment day, Sardar said.

Alqadhi called Sardar, who told the representative over the phone that Alqadhi would not allow the treatment until his questions were answered.

The representative returned later that day with a letter saying Trappers Cove was not renewing Alqadhi’s expiring lease and the couple had to be out by the end of December, Sardar said. The letter does not give a reason for the nonrenewal.

Jeff Barnum, property director for Kalamazoo-based Edward Rose and Sons, which operates Trappers Cove, declined to comment on Alqadhi’s situation or Trappers Cove’s bed bug policy.

Disputes on rise

Brian Gilmore, director of the MSU College of Law’s Housing Law Clinic, said bed bug disputes are booming locally, with as many as 25 percent of the clinic’s recent cases involving the pests. In the absence of a bed bug law, judges are siding with landlords who argue new tenants brought the bugs with them and should cover treatment costs, he said.

Michigan needs to join other states — such as New York and Maine — and spell out responsibilities for both sides, he said.

Without it, new tenants are vulnerable to being blamed for every infestation, Gilmore said.

“The parties need to know what happens” when bed bugs are found, he said.

“The landlords need to know and the tenants need

to know.”

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