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When you move into a new rental unit, the last thing you want is to find yourself living with bed bugs.

Unfortunately, this is a reality for many tenants.

As a landlord, are you responsible for dealing with and eliminating those bed bugs in your properties?

The short answer is yes ÔÇô landlords have an obligation to protect their tenants from health and safety risks.

However, some tenants may have brought bed bugs with them. In this case, the landlord is not responsible for caring for the problem.

Some states have laws that address landlord responsibility for bed bugs. Generally, these laws require landlords to take steps to inspect for bed bugs and exterminate them from the property if present.

Both the landlord and the tenant must understand their rights and responsibilities regarding bed bugs.

Both parties should take the necessary steps to mitigate the problem, such as inspecting for bed bugs and following the recommended treatment protocols.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • What is a landlord responsible for when it comes to bed bugs,
  • When a tenant is responsible for bed bug infestations,
  • What to do if your landlord is not addressing a bed bug problem and
  • Whether there is a pest control clause in the lease agreement.

Who pays for bed bug treatment, the landlord or the tenant?

Ultimately, the landlord is responsible for controlling and eliminating bed bugs from their rental units. If you, as a tenant, notice bed bugs in your rental unit, it is important to talk to your landlord right away.

Your landlord should take the necessary steps to eliminate bed bugs from your rental unit. This includes hiring a professional pest control service, informing all other tenants of the situation, and ensuring that all affected areas are properly treated.

In some cases, the tenant and landlord may agree to split the cost of treatment with their tenants. However, this is not always the case. It is up to both parties to agree on whether or not they will share the cost.

Some states have their own laws regarding who is responsible for bed bug treatments. For example, in California, it is the landlordÔÇÖs responsibility to pay for bed bug extermination, while in New York, it is the tenantÔÇÖs responsibility.

It is important to check your stateÔÇÖs laws on bed bug treatment to determine who is responsible for the costs.

Is getting rid of bed bugs the landlord's responsibility?

Yes, getting rid of bed bugs is the landlordÔÇÖs responsibility. The landlord is obligated to take steps to eliminate bed bugs from their rental property.

Every landlord should ensure their rental units have an implied warranty of habitability. This means they must provide a safe and livable space for their tenants.

If bed bugs are present in the rental unit, the landlord must take the necessary steps to eliminate them. However, if the state's laws say otherwise, the tenant may be responsible for bed bug treatments.

You should understand your rights and responsibilities as a tenant regarding bed bug infestations. Talk to your landlord immediately if you are dealing with a bed bug problem in your rental unit. Make sure they take the necessary steps to eliminate them, which will include:

Hiring a professional pest control service

You should inform your landlord as soon as you notice any signs of bed bugs in your rental unit. Your landlord is then obligated to hire a pest management professional to come in and conduct a bed bug inspection before treating the affected areas.

This is generally the best way to solve bed bug problems, as it is more effective than trying to do it yourself. You should also remember that bed bugs can spread quickly, so act fast when you notice any signs of an infestation.

Informing other tenants

Your landlord must inform all other tenants of bed bugs in the building. This ensures that the problem is contained and tenants take the necessary steps to prevent another bed bug infestation.

They provide instructions for tenants on how to prevent the spread of bed bugs. Your landlord is also responsible for following up with their tenants to ensure that bed bugs are no longer present in the building.

Ensuring proper treatment

Your landlord is also responsible for ensuring that all affected areas are properly treated. This includes ensuring all the bed bug-infested units and all common areas in the building are treated.

Your landlord should also ensure that bed bugs are eliminated from the property before tenants move back in. This is important to prevent bed bugs from spreading and causing future infestations.

When is a tenant responsible for pest control?

A tenant may be responsible for handling bed bug infestation in various cases. These include:

When the state laws dictate it

Some states have their own laws regarding who is responsible for bed bug treatment. In these cases, the tenant may be required to pay for pest control if the state law states so.

Others state that the landlord and tenant should split the cost of treatment. It is important to check your stateÔÇÖs laws on bed bug treatment to determine who is responsible for the costs.

When the tenant has caused the infestation

In some cases, the tenant may be responsible for bed bug treatment if they have caused the infestation. This may include if the tenant has brought in second-hand furniture infested with bed bugs.

A clean rental unit means fewer chances of a bed bug infestation. You may be responsible for pest control costs if you don't keep your unit clean and eliminate items infested with bed bugs.

When the tenant has failed to inform the landlord

Tenants should always inform their landlord as soon as they notice any bed bug-infested units. If the tenant fails to do so and the infestation worsens, they may be responsible for paying for pest control.

Remember that the implied warranty of habitability requires landlords to keep their rental units in a habitable condition. You should play your part and report any bed bug problems you encounter.

When the tenant is responsible for pest control under the lease

Your landlord may include a clause in your rental agreement that states that you are responsible for bed bug treatment costs.

Read your rental agreement carefully to understand your responsibilities before signing the lease.

A lawyer should review this clause to ensure it is legal and enforceable. Before signing a lease, you should understand your rights and responsibilities regarding pest control.

When the tenant has not followed the landlordÔÇÖs pest control instructions

Your landlord is responsible for providing you with instructions on how to prevent a bed bug infestation. Failure to follow these instructions may result in the tenant being responsible for pest control costs.

Adhering to your landlord's instructions is the best way to protect yourself and your rental unit from bed bugs. If you still find yourself facing a bed bug infestation, it is best to contact your landlord and inform them immediately.

When are tenants responsible for pest control?

What should I do if my landlord doesn't cooperate?

You can take a few options if your landlord does not cooperate with treating the bed bug infestation. They include:

Taking legal action

If your landlord refuses to cooperate with you regarding bed bug treatment, you may take legal action. However, this depends on your state laws or lease agreement.

You can take your landlord to court if they fail to comply with the implied warranty of habitability or your rental agreement. Bed bug treatment is a legal responsibility that your landlord must adhere to.

Reporting the landlord to the local housing agency

If your landlord refuses to cooperate, you can report them to the local housing agency. They will investigate your case and ensure you get the bed bug treatment you need.

A housing agency can also help you seek compensation for any damages caused by the bed bug infestation. For example, if you had to throw out bedding or furniture due to bed bug infestation, the agency can help you get compensated for those losses.

Hiring a bed bug exterminator

Sometimes, you don't have to wait for your landlord to take action. You can hire a bed bug exterminator yourself and have them treat the infestation.

Although this may sound costly, a bed bug infestation can cause serious damage to your health and property. Taking action quickly is the best way to protect yourself and your home from bed bugs.

Find another place to rent

Some landlords may be too stubborn to cooperate and take action. Your budget may also not allow you to hire an exterminator. In such cases, finding another place to rent may be best.

When moving out, inspect the unit for bed bugs and document any existing infestations. This will ensure that you are not liable for bed bug treatment costs.

You should also ensure your belongings are bed bug-free before moving them out of the unit. It is best to treat your belongings for bed bugs professionally to ensure they do not spread to your new unit.

Is there usually a pest control clause in lease agreements?

Most lease agreements include a clause that outlines the landlord and tenant's responsibilities regarding bed bug problems.

This clause should include:

Who is responsible for bed bug treatment costs

Understand who is responsible for bed bug treatment costs before signing a lease. This is crucial to the landlord-tenant relationship.

The bed bug clause should also outline the responsibilities of both parties when it comes to preventing and treating bed bugs.

It should also specify who will be responsible for bed bug extermination costs if an infestation occurs. You should also check your state laws to find out if the implied warranty of habitability covers bed bugs.

Tenant rights

In most states, tenants have certain rights regarding bed bug problems. These include the right to have their rental unit inspected and treated and the right to be compensated for bed bug-related damages.

Every tenant should know their rights to take action if bed bugs are present in their rental unit. The more informed a tenant is, the better equipped they are to deal with bed bug issues.

Landlord's bed bug requirements

The bed bug clause should also include the landlord's bed bug requirements. This may include requiring tenants to regularly inspect their units for bed bugs, notifying them if they are found, and providing a safe and effective treatment plan.

The clause should also outline the timeframe in which bed bug treatment must be completed. The landlord should be accountable for treatment and extermination costs if they fail to comply with the bed bug clause in the lease agreement.

How hard is it to get rid of bed bugs in an apartment building?

Getting rid of bed bugs in an apartment building can be difficult. Bed bugs are highly resilient creatures and can easily spread from one unit to another.

However, eliminating bedbugs is much simpler than getting rid of termites. Termites can hide in walls and ceilings for years, whereas you can identify bedbugs with a simple visual inspection.

The key to bed bug elimination is treating the entire building, not just one unit. Landlords should employ the services of a professional bed bug exterminator to ensure all bed bugs in the building are eliminated.

Here are some challenges landlords face when dealing with bed bugs in an apartment building:

Identifying bed bug infestations early

Where tenants fail to report bed bug infestations, landlords may be unaware of the problem until it has already spread to other units. Landlords need to conduct regular bed bug inspections to identify the problem early and take action before it gets out of control.

They should also have a lease agreement that clearly outlines bed bug protocol and the tenantÔÇÖs responsibilities in preventing an infestation.

Getting tenants to cooperate

Some tenants may be unwilling to cooperate with bed bug treatment plans. This is a huge obstacle when trying to eliminate bed bugs.

Landlords should educate their tenants on bed bug prevention and treatment methods. This ensures they are doing their part to help.

A bed bug clause in the lease agreement that outlines the tenantÔÇÖs bed bug responsibilities can also help ensure they comply with the bed bug treatment plan.

Having a reliable bed bug exterminator on call

Landlords should have a reliable bed bug exterminator to call when bed bugs are reported. This ensures that bed bugs are quickly and effectively eliminated.

The exterminator should be experienced in treating bed bugs. They should also have the right equipment to get the job done correctly.

Following up and preventing future infestations

It takes more than one treatment to eliminate bed bugs completely. They are resilient creatures and can return if the landlord does not take the necessary steps to prevent future infestations.

Landlords should schedule regular follow-up inspections and treatments with their exterminator to ensure the bed bugs stay away.

They should also inform tenants of the treatment process and provide them with the necessary information to prevent future infestations.

Implied Warranty of Habitability and Bed Bugs

A landlord's implied warranty of habitability requires them to provide tenants with a safe, livable home. This includes protecting them from bed bug infestations.

A landlord who fails to provide a bed bug-free environment or does not address pest problems quickly and appropriately can be held liable for damages.

Bed bug infestations are serious, and landlords should be proactive in protecting their property from these pests. 

They should have a bed bug clause in the lease agreement, conduct regular inspections, and use a reliable exterminator to ensure the problem is taken care of quickly and effectively.

The Takeaway

Landlords must be proactive and take the necessary steps to prevent and treat bed bug infestations.

This is only possible when the state's laws, implied warranty of habitability, and tenant responsibilities are considered.

DoorLoop can help you manage and monitor your rental property and protect your tenants from this sort of situation, schedule a free demo today!

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!

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