Who Is Responsible for Bed Bugs? The Landlord or the Tenant?

Do you often find yourself dealing with bed bug infestations?

Don’t worry – it is more common than you think. There was a period in the 20th century when it seemed that bed bugs were on the decline.

However, their numbers have risen sharply in the last two decades. It is worth noting that your apartment’s quality or cleanliness doesn’t have any impact on its vulnerability to bed bugs.

What do You need to Know About Bed Bugs?

As the name suggests, bed bugs are tiny parasitic insects that live in beds, although furniture and clothing can attract them too.

Telltale signs of a bed bug infestation include the following:

  • If you find spots of blood on the bedding
  • If you find small bites on your body

Fortunately, you can easily treat bug bites with a mild steroid cream.

Even if you don’t they disappear on their own after some time. Besides, bed bugs don’t pose any major health risks.

At most, their bites cause itchiness. However, the fact that they exist in one’s home is enough to gross out many.

Also read: How to Prevent Bed Bugs in an Apartment (7 Easy Ways)

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

There are several factors behind bed bug infestations. Some of these include new accommodation, sale of second-hand furniture, and international travel.

Each of these factors can trigger a severe infestation. It is a misconception that bed bugs are limited to areas with poor sanitation and untidy bedrooms.

On the contrary, they can thrive and travel from one place to another.

This means that bed bugs can be spread by hitchhiking on clothes, handbags, and luggage. In rare cases, they can even latch on to your body!

Who Is Responsible for Bed Bugs?

Finding who is responsible for bed bugs is crucial because that party will eventually pay for the bed bug treatment.

However, it’s hard to determine who is responsible for an infested property. Sometimes, a tenant’s baggage or clothes contains bed begs. On the other hand, bed bugs can also come from a multi-unit dwelling.

State laws vary when it comes to assigning the financial responsibilities of bed bugs.

Lately, states are favoring tenants and are pinning the responsibility on landlords. To find more about this, check out this legal document compiled by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

Usually, property owners are likely to treat bed bug infestation more effectively, particularly in multi-unit complexes where the infestation may have spread in multiple units.

In most cases, states refer to the implied warranty of habitability.

This makes it necessary for landlords to provide habitable housing. Generally, courts are of the view that an apartment with a bed bug infestation is not habitable.

However, if you live as a tenant in a single-family home, you are the responsible party, particularly dwellers who lived at a place for more than two years.

Keep in mind that the renter’s insurance doesn’t cover the expenses of bed bug treatment or damage done by these sneaky pests. Hence, you have to pay for the extermination cost from your own pocket.

In case you find professional bed bug treatment to be too costly, you can send us a message. We can suggest an effective DIY bed bug treatment procedure.

How to Report Your Bed Bug Infestation?

After you identify a bug infestation, get in touch with your building management or landlord ASAP, and request them to take an action.

They will send a response within the next week. There are certain laws in each state for reporting the infestation.

For instance, a new ordinance was introduced in late 2019. It requires tenants to report bed bug infestation within 180 days of discovery. After that, the landlord is responsible for remediation and investigation costs.

In Phoenix, there are also laws that prevent tenants from bringing certain stuff in their apartment that consists of bed bugs.

These regulations make it mandatory for the tenants to report the infestation to their landlord without mentioning a time limit.

How Do Landlords Need to Prepare?

If you are a landlord, you need to know about the existing laws in your region related to reporting and response requirements.

Train your staff and educate yourself to find bed bugs and conduct an effective inspection. Also, formulate a well-thought-out plan for preventing bed bugs, including the following steps:

  • Conduct in-depth inspection after the tenants leave.
  • Provide guidelines to tenants for bed bug prevention.
  • Instruct the tenants and staff on how to respond after the infestation is identified

As a responsible landlord, educate tenants by taking the following steps:

  • Provide a brochure or flyer to prospective and current tenants that include guidance and policies on bed bug management.
  • Highlight the seriousness of quick reporting when it comes to bed bug sightings.
  • Avoid blaming the tenant – they are rarely at fault. When a culture of blame thrives, residents are unlikely to report sightings, which in turn can cause greater damage to your property.

Your choice of bed bug services plays a pivotal role in bed bug management. Hire someone who has documented and extensive experience in bed bug treatment.

More importantly, it has to be someone who implements a detailed strategy – not just sprays pesticides.

Bed Bug Treatment

When it comes to removing bed bugs, landlords have a great deal of flexibility to effectively exterminate bed bugs.

However, if this is your first time dealing with such an event, you will find it hard to the right bed bug treatment. Typically, landlords opt for the following methods:

Bed Bug Heat Treatment

One of the most effective methods for exterminating bed bugs is heat treatment. With this method, experts use equipment to heat the whole apartment and raise the temperature to extreme levels.

Since bed bugs (whether it is adults, nymphs, and eggs) cannot survive longer than 1.5 hours in 118 degrees Fahrenheit, this treatment produces excellent results.

The heat treatment dries out of the pest’s bodies, but the real challenge is to make sure that your home is completely exposed to the temperature – each and every square inch.

To address this concern, experts utilize sensors to determine the temperature in hard-to-reach places – places where the bugs are likely to be hiding.

However, this treatment can damage household items, such as oil paintings and plastics prone to melting.

Hence, it is important for the professionals, landlords, and tenants to have a proper discussion before implementing heat treatment.

  • It is 100% environment-friendly.
  • Since bed bugs have built resistance against chemical products, heat treatment can get rid of them more effectively.
  • The treatment is performed in a single visit.
  • When implemented correctly, bed bugs from all life stages are killed swiftly.

Chemical Bed Bug Treatment

With this treatment, experts spray various insecticides that are administered in each and every nook and cranny of the home.

The insecticide is carefully spread to the closets, mattresses, beds, furniture, and kitchen areas. Simply put, chemicals cover the entire home.

The nature of this procedure makes it necessary to evacuate residents and pets for at least half a day for ensuring safety.

This treatment comes with the following benefits

  • It is more affordable than heat treatment.
  • This method can be performed discreetly and offers greater privacy. Unlike heat treatment, there is no need for large industrial equipment and vans.
  • Since this method adopts a direct approach, it is more useful for eradicating infestations that are not too severe.

What Can Tenants Do If Landlord Refuse to Remove Bed Bugs?

As a tenant, you can take certain actions to compel your landlord into taking an action against bed bugs.

Based on your state’s law and regulations, you can consider the following course of actions:

  • Withhold rent
  • Break your lease and move out
  • Deduct the costs of bed bug treatment from your rent
  • Sue the landlord for the damage you faced due to bed bugs

However, before you go ahead with any of these steps while dealing with an unresponsive landlord, it’s recommended to consult a local housing resource or attorney.

In this way, you can know what the local law entails and come up with a well-thought-out plan.

If you take an action against your landlord without consulting anyone, you can face repercussions, such as having your tenancy terminated or owing more rent.

Final Thoughts

Unless a tenant is cash-strapped, they are unwilling to live in an apartment known for a history of bed bugs.

Even if the landlord was diligent in addressing bed bug infestation in the past, many tenants remain reluctant to move into such a property.

Some states make it mandatory for landlords to disclose current or prior bed bug infestations.

Hence, take your time before moving to a new place and perform due diligence to find whether a prospective apartment was pest-free in the past.

If you have any questions regarding bed bugs, you can get in touch with us and send your query.

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