If you are dealing with an infestation right now, you might be asking yourself – who is responsible for getting rid of bed bugs – who is going to pay for this? The answer isn’t quite as easy or clear cut as you might think.
Who Is Responsible For Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
At least part of the answer lies in what type of housing that you live in. The other part depends upon whether you are the owner or rent your home.
What If You Own Your Own House
If you live in a house that you own – there is little doubt that you are going to be the one who is responsible for any costs of an extermination.
What If You Own A Condo And Get Bed Bugs
But if you live in a condo that you own it, it’s going to depend upon the by-laws that govern your condo association.
Some Condo Associations will only pay for extermination costs if the infestation is in common areas.
Others will pay for extermination costs whether it is in a common area or in a unit figuring that any infestation could have started in a common area and it is in the best interest of all residents to exterminate before an infestation spreads.
Even then, most Condo Associations would charge you if the source of the infestation could be tracked back to your unit.
What Happens If You Rent Your Home
In most states landlords must provide habitable housing and it would be their responsibility to keep units bug free so the landlord would have to pay to exterminate the bed bugs.
This assumes that the tenant wasn’t responsible for introducing the bugs into the unit. But what happens if you live in a single family home that was previously un-infested and you get bed bugs? You could end up being responsible for the extermination costs.
Who Is Responsible For Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs If You Live In A Multi-Unit Building
Determining who introduced bed bugs in a multi-family building can be difficult if not impossible. The larger the building the more likely there will be people moving in and out on a constant basis.
Therefore, most of the time the landlord would end up footing the bill for the extermination costs. But there are some exceptions.
Read Your Lease
I have seen a new clause or even a full addendum for pest control that is showing up in many leases that could be a problem for tenants. Although there are different forms of this addendum it usually adds a couple rules to the lease that could be problematic for the tenant.
The first problem is that the resident usually must agree that unless they notify the landlord within a certain amount of time of moving in, usually seven days, that there they are experiencing a problem with bugs, the unit is then considered free of pests of any kind.
The problem here is that the resident is agreeing that the unit was bug free when they moved in, implying that any bugs that show up are from the resident.
It also usually written in such a way as to imply that if a resident fails to notify the landlord in a timely manner that they are experiencing bugs at any time during the lease they could also be held liable.
Bed bugs in particular can live for long periods without feedings and even though it could take weeks before an infestation is noticeable, the resident might still be held liable.
Then, these clauses also stipulate that the resident agrees to allow and co-operate with any extermination activities. This implies that if you didn’t, for instance because you have medical issues that make such treatments problematic, you could be evicted and probably charged for extermination costs.
I’ve even seen a lease that expressly forbids used furniture being brought into the rental unit.
The problem with addendum’s like these is that it is an attempt to shift the blame to the resident if there is an infestation.
What If You Move In And Find Bed Bugs
This is an even grayer area that can vary from State to State. Who is responsible for getting rid of bed bugs if you move into a rental unit that has had bed bugs in the past or is dealing with the bugs in the property.
It’s understandably that most people aren’t going to want to live in any building that has a history of bed bugs. A full eradication of a bed bug infestation is usually rare unless the landlord is willing to act swiftly and do a thorough extermination, and this can be quite costly. So most rely on controlling rather than eradicating an infestation.
But the bottom line is that most people wouldn’t even consider renting a new apartment that ever had a problem so you probably won’t hear any Landlord telling you that the unit you are considering renting has/had bed bugs unless they have to by law.
While most states require that potential renters be told about the “adverse material facts” about the property that they are considering moving into, whether this includes bed bugs differ between States.
- Here is a list of the States that do have specific Bed Bug Laws
- Here is a list of State specific Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent
So if you have moved into a unit that has bed bugs you might be able to withhold rent and use the repair and deduct clause to pay for extermination.
Final Thoughts On Who Is Responsible For Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs
I’d be very careful before taking any steps if you have bed bugs though and research what your specific state statutes allow and require.
I would also make sure that I took pictures of the infestation, document everything that you and the landlord does, and make sure that you handle all communications in writing.
Landlords are in a tough position when it comes to bed bugs. With people moving in and out all the time and the distinct chance that even a thorough extermination will be undone by the next resident I can understand why they are reluctant to spend a lot of money.
But if you live in a rental apartment, they are who is responsible for getting rid of bed bugs and it’s part of owning rental property.