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Bed bugs an ‘epidemic’ in Montreal, says housing group

WATCH ABOVE: With moving day just behind us, exterminators warn this is the time that new residents are extremely vulnerable to catching bed bugs. Global's Kelly Greig reports.

MONTREAL – Piles of furniture often line Montreal’s streets after moving day on July 1 – some could call it the “original sidewalk sale.”

With tenants coming and going, unwelcome guests are also on the search for a new home: bed bugs.

“It’s an epidemic. It’s not just Montreal, it’s all over. It’s a big problem right now,” said François Saillant from housing group FRAPRU.

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Picking up free furniture from the curb is common practice, and after moving day it’s basically a gold mine.

READ MORE: Bedbug battle: study suggests insects developed thicker skin to beat insecticides

However, it usually leads to a spike in bed bug infestations around this time of the year, and the problem isn’t going away.

“It’s all year long – there’s a lot of bugs in almost every neighbourhood in Montreal,” warned Saillant.

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Kevin Lebeau with the Quebec Landlords Association explained this is a huge problem for building owners, because they often don’t know much about who is moving in or out.

Bites can take up to a week to appear, so tenants don’t often know they have an infestation until it’s too late.

When dealing with bed bugs, Lebeau explained speed is key.

“The landlord really has to act quickly because he has the obligation to provide a dwelling that is clean and habitable,” said Lebeau.

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“So, he’s got to marshal all he can to get an exterminator to get the problem solved right then and there.”

READ MORE: These are the colours bedbugs are most drawn to, a new study suggests

Usually, it’s up to the landlords to foot the bill, but that doesn’t mean neglectful renters are off the hook.

An infestation can land reckless tenants in front of the rental board.

“The landlord would have a recourse, but he would have to prove the tenant is the actual source of the infestation,” he said.

So, when the temptation to pick up that piece of abandoned furniture is strong, you may want to think twice, because you could be coming home with more than you bargained for.

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