A bedbug infestation in your home has a detrimental impact on your quality of life. These tiny, blood-sucking insects come out in the dark of night, inflicting painful bites on their slumbering victims. The bites can become inflamed, itchy and even infected.
It is notoriously difficult to get rid of bedbugs, and it can also be expensive. Not only is there the cost of hiring a pest-control service, but any items exposed to the bugs must be laundered repeatedly. Items that can’t be washed will need to be thrown out or destroyed.
Several states and cities have passed laws regarding the responsibilities of landlords and tenants facing a bedbug infestation. Who is responsible for eliminating these nightmare pests?
Is the Landlord Responsible?
Many states and cities require that a landlord provides a pest-free environment for their tenants. To protect themselves from liability, landlords should inspect vacant apartments to determine that they are pest and bedbug free before they’re rented out to new tenants.
It’s important that they check because even if an apartment is vacant for months, bedbugs will survive and be there waiting for the new tenant. They can live for up to one year with no food.
Is the Tenant Responsible?
If no bedbugs were present before the new tenants moved in, and no other tenants in the same building have reported bedbugs, a landlord may argue that the tenant is responsible for introducing the pests into their residence, and therefore, also responsible for the cost of removing them. Secondhand furniture can sometimes bring in these pests.
Bedbugs are a problem in hotels. These tiny pests can easily stow away in luggage and go unnoticed at home until their numbers have vastly increased. They reproduce very fast. If your landlord can prove that you’ve brought the bedbugs in, you may be held responsible for eradicating the pests.
What Should You Do?
When you’re looking for a new place to live, ask the landlord if bedbugs were ever present there. Even places that are clean and well maintained can harbor these pests. If the answer is yes, you may want to avoid that property. The landlord must disclose whether there were previous issues with bedbug infestation if asked.
Who Should Pay for Treatment?
If it’s proven that you, the tenant, have brought in the bedbugs, you are responsible for getting rid of them in most cases. If you can show that the apartment was already infested when you moved in, or the bedbugs were present in nearby units, the landlord should cover the cost of treatment. If it’s unclear when or how the infestation began, the landlord and tenant may split the costs.
Call a Bedbug Lawyer
Bedbugs used to be a problem of the past. Now they are back and very much a part of our present. Many laws surrounding bedbug infestations are new and not well understood. Call a lawyer who knows your rights when a bedbug invasion strikes.