MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – A bed bug infestation soon turned into a much bigger health concern for the woman renting a midtown home. State inspectors say her property manager improperly sprayed pesticide hoping to get rid of the problem.
Eva Woywod moved into her midtown home a couple of days before Christmas in 2018.
“The history. I’m drawn to historic places. It’s a beautiful home,” said Woywod.
She moved to Memphis from Wisconsin to be closer to her son but she was unknowingly moving closer to some unwanted guests.
“The next morning my son woke up covered in bites, just bites all over his body,” said Woywod.
Bed bugs were found all over her son’s bedroom wall.
“They attack at night. They literally attack. It’s like an army of bugs coming at you at night,” said Woywod.
Woywod spent months asking her property manager Bernard Evans to hire an exterminator. Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to get rid of. According to the Centers for Disease Control, bed bugs are tiny and excellent at hiding. They can go months without feeding and only come out when an appropriate host is available.
Waywod says she spent more than nine months in her home before her property manager offered to come fix the problem, but instead of hiring a professional he decided to do it himself.
“He left puddles down the hallway. He saturated our furniture with it. My furniture got ruined,” said Woywod.
As Woywod suspected, her property manager shouldn’t have been spraying her home in the first place.
“Pesticides are regulated by state law. It by nature is named a pesticide. It means it’s designed to kill something and if used improperly it can cause a lot of damage,” said Jerry Seabolt with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Pesticide Department.
Seabolt says state law only allows certified, licensed professionals to use those types of chemicals.
“The appropriate way to take care of a bedbug issue is to call a professional,” said Seabolt.
Bernard Evans of First Choice Properties was issued a warning last November for violation of the Pesticides Act of 1978. If he does it again, he could face criminal charges.
Pesticide use is taken seriously because Seabolt says improper use of pesticides can cause skin burns and if ingested can damage the kidney, liver and lungs.
“Well yeah, that kind of kicked him in the butt. He got a real exterminator,” said Woywod.
Woywod says her home is now bed bug-free but hopes other renters learn from what she calls a nightmare. She says it’s also important to know who actually owns your rental, not just the property manager.
“It is extremely important because like in this situation the middle man wasn’t communicating and doing his job,” said Woywod.
Tuesday afternoon we went by the property manager’s home. He did not want to be on camera but said he is no longer managing that property.
It’s unclear at this time if he manages any other properties in the city.
The State Department of Agriculture tells WMC Action News 5 that they will follow-up with Evans within the next six months.