Bedbugs drove younger mom out of her Chilliwack house

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Amber Ragan was excited to have her first home, but 18 months later, an insect infestation forced the single mother to live in a hotel

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Denise Ryan Amber Ragan and her four year old son Elijah. Amber Ragan and her four year old son Elijah. Photo by Arlen Redekop /.PNG

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Amber Ragan and her four-year-old son Elijah moved to their Chilliwack one-bedroom apartment in September 2019.

Ragan was excited to have a place to call home. It was her first apartment to herself and she was hoping to get Elijah, who has autism, to settle down.

But Ragan said it wasn’t long before she discovered that the apartment was infested with cockroaches.

“It’s been a rocky start,” said Ragan, a member of the Stó: lō Nation.

Ragan said she notified the local property manager that her unit was infested, but no action was taken. Then came a rent increase last fall, ostensibly to finance increased pest control.

“In October, we were told there was going to be a rent increase that said why, when, and how much it would be so they could get a better pest control company when they hadn’t really done anything yet,” Ragan said.

Ragan paid the rent increase despite a provincial rent increase freeze due to COVID-19, which is in effect through July 2021.

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After tenants warned that rents in the province were frozen due to the pandemic, they received refunds, Ragan said. Then, in early February, the bed bugs came.

“I was just going to bed, I felt something on my hand. I slapped my hand and turned on my light and it was still there. “

As she pulled back the covers, she saw the mattress seams full of bedbugs.

“I was starting to panic,” said Ragan. “We left in the middle of the night.”

Nowhere else did she check into a hotel where she has no access to cooking facilities.

Marina Garmon, Program and Service Coordinator for the Unique Get Together Society, reached out to Postmedia on Ragan’s behalf after attempts by the landlord to correct the infestation failed. Garmon also plans to file a complaint with the BC Residential Tenancy Branch to reimburse Ragan’s hotel costs.

“She just paid $ 1,800 to move into a hotel. Her son was full of bites, ”said Garmon, who describes Ragan as“ kind, generous and a great mother ”.

Andy Kay, who identified himself as the property manager for the 51-unit building at 9482 William Street in Chilliwack, said the landlord spends thousands of dollars annually on pest control.

“The building is primarily aimed at people on lower incomes, and many of them are dependent on social assistance. Hence, we know that they sometimes bring used furniture or mattresses, which has caused problems with cockroaches in the past. We don’t have that many bugs, mostly cockroaches, ”said Kay.

Kay clarified that he did not suspect Ragan was the cause of the bugs and provided Postmedia with several pieces of evidence showing that two units in the building had been treated for bugs and other units had been sprayed for cockroaches in January.

Kay said he asked Ragan access to the unit so she could be treated, but Garmon and Ragan said they had not received adequate notification and treatment of a single unit was insufficient.

“The whole building needs treatment,” said Garmon.

dryan@postmedia.com