Brandon M. Stickney

Brandon M. Stickney

Say you are not so well-off, you’re improving your life, and you decide to rent an apartment in Lockport, near family and friends.

You move into that spacious apartment, which is particularly attractive to you because it’s a part of the city’s history, a home once inhabited by Lockport’s wealthy, the influential. One feels a certain pride among these enduring, beautifully designed, unique parts of New York’s great canal history.

Your landlord is furtive, faux-friendly, a person you’re curious about — reminding you of someone you might have seen or met before. The landlord asks for rent in cash, which is dated. Everyone uses banking transfers and online transactions these days, every dollar electronically accounted for!

Regardless, you’re working — unlike half the nation during the deadly COVID-19 downturn — and you put aside your suspicion. Then, after you’ve moved into that new apartment, you wake up one day, arms covered in little bites. Itchy pinpricks, lumpy lesions. Yuck!

You tell a fellow tenant: “Look at this!” The tenant laughs and pulls his sleeves up. He’s covered in the bites too.

“Bedbugs,” he says. “You’ve never seen them before?”

Do a Google search. You learn that if you see one bedbug, and you kill it, the exoskeleton-protected menace was full of your blood. And if there’s one, that means there’s 1 million hiding in every dark area of the building. They wreak havoc, especially because of the poor renters at the lowest rung of society.

Unclean, the renters, their fault, you say? Hardly.

Fault is on the landlords who ignore the issue, failing to inform new tenants that they are about to be attacked by an insidious mass of bloodsucking pests, and then offer to buy useless, watered-down bug spray for the uninformed, untrained, highly vulnerable tenant.

How has it become the tenant’s responsibility to clean a landlord’s building? Who should be paying whom?

Bedbugs. Complaint. Eviction?

The poor, the ill, the uninformed: Coated in tiny red bumps, they are callously threatened by “slum lords” not to say anything to anyone, including the health and building inspection departments. If word gets out about your itchy skin and possible symptoms of failing mental health (which bedbugs have proven to cause), you’re evicted.

Where’s TV’s consumer fight-back advocate Al Vaughters when we need him most?

To the thousands suffering from this issue: stop paying your rent. It’s your only defense in Lockport. Tell it all to the honest, reputable court.

Some landlords have unscrupulous “connections” in city (even county) government who might just “lose” your complaint about this unending scourge because, to eradicate and ensure post-eradication checkups and expenses, the identified landlords must pay between $2,000 and $4,000 for qualified exterminators.

It’s cheaper to evict the uninformed tenants than it is to deal with the unending infestation. Make more first-month/last-month rental cash by going through tenants like the French Revolution’s guillotine. How do you call yourselves Christians?

You should be quite concerned.

These bugs are nearly impossible to kill. Certain landlords are so accomplished in tenant abuse, they might qualify for the old Losers of the Year Awards. They say they know the law. Funny, the law says such manipulative landlords must put tenants up in local hotels during the poisonous eradication.

In an apartment building, such as you’ll find on High, Genesee, South, Washburn, John, Waterman, Pine, and many other 1880-era homes, infestations are so horrendous that you, living anywhere in the city, could have your home eaten by the same bloodsuckers if just one bug is transferred (they hop) to your clothing while you’re standing in line at the bank or grocery store.

Don’t blame the poor, blame your city council for ignoring disgusting landlord issues.

Covid is dying, we imagine. But the bedbug thriving in Lockport. Look now — there may just be a transferred bedbug under your crisp Oxford shirt.

Maybe it’s time the money-loving landlords involved in the local bedbug conspiracy are brought to court for their crimes and misdemeanors.

When you own a home, it already requires upkeep each year. So, why do so many of these historic buildings shamelessly rot before our eyes? Landlords, clean up your many metaphorical backyards.

Manipulating and lying to those on public assistance, those who suffered economically from Covid, and those who don’t know how to defend themselves (arms covered in welts) is an ongoing Judas move — empty and as repulsive as the insects you illegally hide, breaking the law.

Niagara’s health department should run local bedbug infestation numbers as we did for the infected during Covid’s height. Publishing the names of owners of infested buildings? A great idea. Warn the unsuspecting? Bug off!

Brandon M. Stickney resides in Lockport.

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