Apartment Guru: When Bedbugs Bite

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bed bugsDear Apartment Guru,

I am a broker who is in a dilemma. I have a client who doesn't know that the condo he wants to buy has been infested with bedbugs two times in the last year. But I really need the commission and he has been such a nightmarish person to sell to. However, I do like him as a person.

Now, I don't "formally" know about the bedbugs. In other words, I found out about them overhearing a conversation between the current occupant showing the place to her friend while I happened to be in a different room in the space.

Really this is an ethical dilemma more than anything else. I think the condo manager will be the one who gets in legal trouble for failing to disclose the information to prospective buyers. So what do you think I should do?

-- Trying to Be Good Person Who Also Makes a Living

Dear "Good" Person,

I'll start with what Rebecca, a broker in Columbus, Ohio has to say:
"I think you already know the answer to your question. The needs of your client should come first and it really doesn't matter how you feel about him personally. If you have the information, whether it is in writing or not is irrelevant, then you should pass on the info to your client and let them decide if they still want the property."
I'm going to agree with Rebecca but also take it a step further. We are in the middle of a nasty recession. Life is tough all over. But if we can't rely on our fellow man for compassion, decency and warnings about bedbugs, what do we have? Infested sheets, itchy body parts and a whole lot of misery.

Look, GP, there are a lot of ways to get rid of bedbugs. None of them are easy, but none of them are impossible either. Why don't you start your conversation with Mr. Not-So-Easy-to-Sell-To with a few suggestions. Perhaps you can get the condo manager to bring in an inspector and double-check the property, making sure that second time was the charm. Also, comfort your buyer by asking the manager to check the other condos. Those buggers are ruthless and will hide out wherever they can.

Be on your buyer's team and they will come to you again the next time they want to buy a different condo, because it turns out their condo manager is a non-disclosing douche-burger. Paint yourself as a savior of sorts, and they will send their friends to you the next time they need a place to live.

"It may take a little more legwork on your part, but at least you know you did the right thing in the end," says Rebecca. And she's right.

Heed this advice and you will go to sleep tonight the same good person you were before your sanity broke for a moment and you became a greedy, money-hungry idiot.

Broker on, my friend. Broker on.

The Aparment Guru is Joselin Linder, co-writer of The Good Girls Guide to Living in Sin and Have Sex Like You Just Met. Having rented apartments and houses in Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Columbus, OH and abroad in Prague, CZ, she knows what it means to live in home you don't own and still make it homey. Anything she doesn't know, she isn't afraid to ask.
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