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MM Novato FAQ

While bed bugs can strike anywhere, they are especially common in multi-unit complexes, such as condos and apartment buildings. This can often complicate the extermination process, since it involves a landlord and their tenants. Depending on your local laws, your landlord could be responsible for the cost of extermination. But how can you know if you’re covered? What if your landlord refuses to pay, or threatens to evict if you don’t treat the infestation on your dollar? We’ve heard it all over the years, and would like to do our best to clear up some confusion in the matter.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Anything you read on this blog, including this post, has a potential to be inaccurate depending on your local laws or the details of your personal situation. We hold no responsibility for the consequences of what you do based on what you read here.

Does My Landlord Have to Pay?

In some instances, a landlord may be obligated by law to pay some or all of the costs to get rid of bed bugs in your unit. This will vary quite a bit, depending on your state and local laws:

  • Many states require landlords to pay if the tenant can prove that the bed bugs were there before they moved in. This is usually done by photographs or statements signed by the landlord during the initial walk-through, before the tenant-to-be signed the lease.
  • If your lease explicitly states that the landlord is responsible for bed bug extermination costs (or general extermination costs), state law generally favors the lease’s wording. Always read your lease carefully before signing, and always keep a copy of it for situations like this.
  • If multiple units in a complex are found to be infested, the landlord is more likely to be held liable for the costs.
  • A select few localities, such as Florida and New York City, require the landlord to exterminate bed bugs. However, most laws only consider rodents and vermin to be pests that landlords are responsible for treating.

To address a common misunderstanding: bed bugs are generally not considered by law to make a dwelling unsafe for occupancy. This means that tenant protection laws related to health and sanitation probably won’t apply to a bed bug infestation. Again, it’s very important that you read up on your state and local laws, as the statutes regarding bed bugs vary from place to place.

What if My Landlord is Responsible?

If, for any reason stated above, your landlord is responsible for the cost and action, great! That can be quite the financial burden lifted off of your shoulders. However, keep in mind that you have some responsibilities of your own.

In just about every rental law regarding pest control, the tenant has a duty to cooperate with the treatment process. That can mean multiple inspections and visits by an exterminator (sometimes on short notice), and even a short-term evacuation of the unit. If the tenant refuses to comply to reasonable circumstances, the landlord may no longer be held liable for the treatment.

Can My Landlord Evict Me?

Many tenants have been served eviction notices and warnings in response to their bed bug problems. A landlord cannot usually evict on the grounds of an infestation, unless they can prove that the tenant introduced the bed bugs to the complex. However, there may be an amendment in your lease that grants your landlord the right to evict in certain cases. Consult your lease carefully, then check your state and local laws to see if the lease is legal. A real estate lawyer can help with this.

If you are threatened with eviction, your best bet would be to contact your local health and housing departments, informing them of the situation and seeing what they have to say. These officials will be the most educated on what local laws apply to your case, and can help you find and complete any appropriate paperwork.

Your next step should be to seek legal advice. A lawyer can tell you whether or not to move, withhold rent, file a complaint (and where), or press charges.

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Bed Bugs and Renters: Is Your Landlord Responsible?

While bed bugs can strike anywhere, they are especially common in multi-unit complexes, such as condos and apartment buildings. This can often complicate the extermination process, since it involves a landlord and their tenants. Depending on your local laws, your landlord could be responsible for the cost of extermination. But how can you know if you’re covered? What if your landlord refuses to pay, or threatens to evict if you don’t treat the infestation on your dollar? We’ve heard it all over the years, and would like to do our best to clear up some confusion in the matter.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. Anything you read on this blog, including this post, has a potential to be inaccurate depending on your local laws or the details of your personal situation. We hold no responsibility for the consequences of what you do based on what you read here.

Does My Landlord Have to Pay?

In some instances, a landlord may be obligated by law to pay some or all of the costs to get rid of bed bugs in your unit. This will vary quite a bit, depending on your state and local laws:

  • Many states require landlords to pay if the tenant can prove that the bed bugs were there before they moved in. This is usually done by photographs or statements signed by the landlord during the initial walk-through, before the tenant-to-be signed the lease.
  • If your lease explicitly states that the landlord is responsible for bed bug extermination costs (or general extermination costs), state law generally favors the lease’s wording. Always read your lease carefully before signing, and always keep a copy of it for situations like this.
  • If multiple units in a complex are found to be infested, the landlord is more likely to be held liable for the costs.
  • A select few localities, such as Florida and New York City, require the landlord to exterminate bed bugs. However, most laws only consider rodents and vermin to be pests that landlords are responsible for treating.

To address a common misunderstanding: bed bugs are generally not considered by law to make a dwelling unsafe for occupancy. This means that tenant protection laws related to health and sanitation probably won’t apply to a bed bug infestation. Again, it’s very important that you read up on your state and local laws, as the statutes regarding bed bugs vary from place to place.

What if My Landlord is Responsible?

If, for any reason stated above, your landlord is responsible for the cost and action, great! That can be quite the financial burden lifted off of your shoulders. However, keep in mind that you have some responsibilities of your own.

In just about every rental law regarding pest control, the tenant has a duty to cooperate with the treatment process. That can mean multiple inspections and visits by an exterminator (sometimes on short notice), and even a short-term evacuation of the unit. If the tenant refuses to comply to reasonable circumstances, the landlord may no longer be held liable for the treatment.

Can My Landlord Evict Me?

Many tenants have been served eviction notices and warnings in response to their bed bug problems. A landlord cannot usually evict on the grounds of an infestation, unless they can prove that the tenant introduced the bed bugs to the complex. However, there may be an amendment in your lease that grants your landlord the right to evict in certain cases. Consult your lease carefully, then check your state and local laws to see if the lease is legal. A real estate lawyer can help with this.

If you are threatened with eviction, your best bet would be to contact your local health and housing departments, informing them of the situation and seeing what they have to say. These officials will be the most educated on what local laws apply to your case, and can help you find and complete any appropriate paperwork.

Your next step should be to seek legal advice. A lawyer can tell you whether or not to move, withhold rent, file a complaint (and where), or press charges.

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Posted in FAQ MM Novato on | 6 Comments
  • Chelsea

    I need advice. My fiancé and I have a bedbug infestation in our basement suite. We have proof they were here before we moved in. We have notified our landlords, months ago actually and nothing has been done. Recently we again called them to tell them it had gotten bad again and our landlords were rude, and threatening. They said they don’t know what we want them to do, they aren’t willing to put down thousands of dollars to get it fumigated, so we can give our notice and move out or deal with it ourselves. What should we do? Are we in the right to withhold rent? I need to know the fastest way to get the ball rolling. This case is very time sensitive!

  • http://www.bedbugsupply.com MM Novato

    Hi, Chelsea. I see you’re from BC. Generally, your landlord is responsible for treating pest control problems, including bed bugs. If you have made a request that they have denied, you can phone your local health authority to see what options there are. If your health authority won’t get involved, you can still file for dispute resolution at the Residential Tenancy Branch to get an order to make the landlord treat the pest problem.

  • Sabrina

    When I spoke to my landlord about our bed bug issue, she at first was on the ball and bought a bunch of stuff to exterminate the bugs…mostly Hot Shot and Orkin sprays. When we told her they didn’t work she told me that it isn’t her problem or responsibility. We have a three bedroom home in FL and are unable to use two of the bedrooms. The bed bugs are not her fault but I do believe extermination is her responsibility.

  • Gringo

    I live in Indiana and I have BBs. I don’t know whether they were here before I moved in or after, and I don’t know if I could prove it either way. I’m worried my landlord is going to try to screw me over for it, given the way they act. Who has what responsibility here?

    • BedBugSupply

      According to IC 32-31-8-5, a landlord is responsible for delivering a safe, clean, and habitable premise to the tenant, and to comply with all health and housing codes.

      However, bed bugs typically aren’t considered by the state to be a health or sanitation issue for property rental, and it looks like the tenant is responsible for ongoing maintenance while occupying the premise.

      This is definitely something to talk to a local attorney or housing authority about, as we are far from experts here.