Are Landlords Responsible For Payment For a Bed Bug Exterminator?
Who Hires a Bed Bug Exterminator? It’s frustrating if you’ve moved into a new leased accommodation, and you’ve just found bed bugs. Now the question becomes: who must pay for the beg bug treatment? This article gives a brief about everything you need to know about bed bugs and who pays for treatment.
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?
Bed bugs are small bugs that get into beds and linens and often bite, leaving raised welts. They can lay up to 5 eggs a day weeks, and these larvae mature in a few weeks, thus exponentially compounding the beg bugs infestation.
Bed bugs are very hard to kill and some experts report that bed bugs are reaching near epidemic levels in certain cities and areas in the United States.
How Do Bed Bugs Get Into A Rental Dwelling?
Unlike rodents and other pests hat are attracted primarily to garbage and food particles, bed bugs can enter into a rental dwelling in a variety of ways, including but not limited to:
Through floor boards, electrical conduits, and small cracks
On clothing, backpacks, contaminated luggage, and even on people who have come in contact with them.
Bed bugs aren’t attracted to dirt and they can infest even a clean home, due to the fact that they are hard to see and you may have them and not even know it. They are attracted by the scent of humans and they ingest only human blood, not other animals or food.
Are Bed Bugs My Landlord’s Responsibility?
Most states require landlords to provide habitable housing, and most courts don’t consider bed bug infested units to be habitable. So, as long as the tenant didn’t introduce the bed bugs, the landlord is usually responsible for extermination.
However, determining who introduced the bed bugs (and who must foot the bill) is often very difficult in multi-unit buildings. Each state has different laws regarding bed bugs. The next part of our guide details who’s responsible, and what they’re responsible for doing.
Alabama doesn’t have many bed bug laws.
There is one relevant part of the law, under Alabama Administrative Code § 420-3-11 (Construction, Maintenance, and Operation of Hotels). Subsection .12 covers Insect and Rodent Control.
Unfortunately, this only relates to hotels! Any hotel that’s found to be infested with bed bugs or other insects is immediately shut down. Consequently, an ADPH (Alabama Department of Public Health) environmentalist will only investigate a complaint in public lodgings, i.e., motels and hotels.
Apart from that, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Alaska doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
In Arizona, there are a few laws that apply. These apply to rental properties. The first is Arizona Revised Statutes § 36-601 – Public Nuisances Dangerous to Public Health. Under this law, bed bugs are considered to be a public nuisance.
Specifically, it lists bed bugs and other ‘ectoparasites’ in any ‘sleeping accommodations [that] are offered to the public.’ This applies both to rental properties and to hotels/motels.
Not only that, but § 33-1319 specifically relates to bed bug control and landlord/tenant obligations. It lists the following obligations concerning a bedbug infestation:
They have to provide educational materials about bed bugs and how to deal with them.
The landlord isn’t allowed to lease out a property that they know to be infested with bed bugs.
The tenant shouldn’t knowingly bring anything into their new apartment/house that contains bed bugs.
A tenant is obliged to let their landlord know of an infestation.
This section also does not create a cause of action against tenants concerning damage caused by bed bugs. This means that your landlord can’t get you to pay for the damage caused by bed bugs in their property, even if you brought them in.
Unfortunately, Arkansas does not protect tenants against bed bug infestations. And in Arkansas, the implied warranty of habitability does not apply—the only place in the country where this is the case.
This would normally mean that the property should have been habitable when leased. Because this doesn’t apply, it’s therefore impossible for the landlord to be held responsible for a prior infestation. An Arkansas woman found this out the hard way when she tried to sue her landlord for an infestation.
This means that you’re on your own when it comes to bed bugs. You have no legal recourse. Your best bet is to either move out or take steps to get rid of the bed bugs yourself. Alternatively, ask your landlord nicely and see what they say. You never know you might get lucky.
California has a good few laws that protect tenants from bed bugs and outline the landlord’s responsibility in getting rid of them.
According to the California Code of Regulations, Title 25, Housing and Community Development § 40 the landlord is responsible for providing safe and clean bedding in a rental home (so long as the accommodation is provided furnished, i.e., the landlord is offering you a bed).
The bedding has to be clean, dry, sanitary and free from infestations like bed bugs. Recent changes to the Civil Code, § 1942.5 also prohibit a landlord from retaliating against a tenant, e.g., by evicting them. § 1954.602 also prevents them from leasing, or even showing a potential tenant a property they know to be infested.
Colorado doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Connecticut bed bug law is some of the best in the country.
State law in Connecticut sets guidelines both for tenants and landlords. First, a tenant has to inform a landlord either orally or in writing that their house/apartment is infested (although in writing is always best, so that you can prove it later).
The landlord then has five days to have the house/apartment inspected, after which they have to report the results to the tenant within another two days. If there is an infestation present, the landlord then has five more days to have it treated.
As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to allow either your landlord or a pest control expert access to your house. They will then, first, do a basic inspection to search for bed bugs.
This is both visual and manual, so they’ll have a quick look around, but may also flip/lift your mattress to check underneath. Make sure you’re prepared for this! It’s also part of the law that if the exterminator tells you to get rid of certain infested things, that you have to do it.
The law itself goes into great detail on what the landlord has to do. It even states that if they’re trying to get rid of bed bugs without hiring an exterminator, that they should start by vacuuming the apartment.
Delaware doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Florida has quite good protection for tenants against bed bugs. Section 83.51(2)(a), F.S. of the Florida Landlord and Tenant Law states that ‘the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times of the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for…
Extermination of rats, mice, ants, and wood destroying organisms and bed bugs.’ The tenant has to leave the property while the extermination takes place for a time no longer than four days, and won’t have to pay rent while they’re away.
Crucially, though, this law only applies while the tenancy is in place. Don’t just leave your apartment or house without telling the landlord, because this can invalidate the lease, and make it so that this law doesn’t apply. Under this law, the landlord has to pay for bed bugs even if they think you might have brought them into the home.
Georgia doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. There are both laws and precedents that establish how a hotel or motel owner is obliged to offer ordinary care to guests and keep their places of operation pest free, but these laws don’t apply to landlords and tenants.
That being said, some legislators are arguing for changes to the bed bug laws in Georgia. They think that exterminating bed bugs should be covered under the landlord’s existing liability for repairs. Hopefully, in the next few years, the lawmakers should see sense and protect both tenants and landlords against the growing bed bug problem.
Hawaii doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. They do have a law that covers hotels, but this isn’t any use to a tenant.
Idaho doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Illinois doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. The only laws that the state as a whole has to relate to the railroads. Apparently, according to 610 ILCS 85/1, Ch. 114, par. 100a, no owner or railroad operator is allowed to send out trains that aren’t clean of cockroaches, body lice, bed bugs, and vermin. It’s obvious why this is a law, but it doesn’t exactly help tenants.
That being said, Chicago has specific ordinances about the control of bed bugs. In fact, they have one of the most stringent and effective sets of bed bug regulations here in the U.S. Here’s how it works. As a tenant in Chicago, you have to tell your landlord within five days of a suspected infestation.
You mustn’t interfere with inspection or treatment, must allow access to your apartment, and must dispose of anything the pest control expert says they can’t treat. At the same time, your landlord isn’t allowed to retaliate against you for bringing up the problem. The landlord also has to pay for pest control measures. If they don’t, they can be fined up to $1000 per day!
As you can imagine, this is a great incentive to persuade landlords to take real action. Of course, it was spurred by the fact that Chicago has one of the worst bed bug problems in the U.S.
According to Indiana Code Title 32. Property § 32-31-8-5, a landlord is required to deliver the rental premises in a safe, clean and habitable condition. They have to comply with all health and housing codes that apply. This means that in most cases, the landlord is liable to pay for an exterminator. The landlord can try and show that the tenant brought the pests into the property, and can recover costs if this is possible.
Idaho doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. The only bed bug laws they do have relate to migrant worker camps, that require whoever is in control of the camp to make sure its bed bug-free.
Kansas has a few bed bug laws that relate to the food service industry and hotels, but none for tenants and landlords. The Kansas Administrative Rules/Article 36 states that guest rooms in hotels have to ‘be free of any evidence of insects, rodents, and other pests.
Aside from this, the K.A.R. § 4-27-2 specifies that bedbugs are an imminent health hazard. Any hotel that’s found to have an infestation is required to shut down and notify authorities within 12 hours.
As for tenants, though, they don’t have any protection under Kansas law. You have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Kentucky doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Louisiana doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Maine state law is a little better than most. The law under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 14 (Court Procedure—Civil) part 7, Chapter 710: Rental Property §6021-A specifically refers to the treatment of bedbug infestations. Under this law, the landlord is responsible for:
Conducting an inspection within five days of being informed of an infestation
Contacting a pest control agent within ten days of finding an infestation
Doing whatever the pest control agent thinks is necessary to get rid of the infestation
Checking any apartment or house for bed bugs before leasing it out, and not letting it out if they find any
Informing a potential tenant that a neighboring unit is infested with bed bugs before they choose to move in
If the landlord doesn’t do as they’re supposed to do, they’ll then be subject to a $250 fine, or the cost of damages to your goods, whichever is greater.
Tenants have specific responsibilities too. As a tenant, it’s your job to tell your landlord if you find any bed bugs. You also, obviously, have to let your landlord or their approved agent into the property to perform their check.
This is going to be a visual inspection, but they will manually look underneath the mattress, box spring and so on, so make sure you’re prepared for that. It’s also incumbent on you to comply with whatever the pest controller says—and why wouldn’t you?
If you don’t abide by the law, your landlord could bring an action against you. This will give them the court-approved right to gain access to your property or put the control measures in place. Truth be told, this is how the story goes in most states. The crucial difference is that all this is codified into state law in Maine.
Maryland doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Massachusetts doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Michigan doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Minnesota has a couple of bed bug laws, but again, none specifically that define whose responsibility it is to get rid of bed bugs.
This is unfortunate, especially since Minneapolis is one of the worst cities for bed bugs in the U.S. Under Minnesota Rules 4625.1700 Lodging Establishments- INSECT AND RODENT CONTROL, it’s the law that hotels, motels and similar have to get rid of bed bugs as soon as they find them.
Another similar law applies to supervised living facilities, i.e., for disabled people or anyone who can’t look after themselves.
But for regular tenants, either in Minneapolis or anywhere else in Minnesota, you have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Mississippi doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Missouri doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Montana doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Nebraska has a variety of bed bug laws, but nothing that stands out among other states—and nothing that helps tenants all that much.
The first of Nebraska’s laws is Neb. Admin. R. & Regs. Tit. 175, Ch. 2, § 004. This law provides that any owner or operator of a boarding home has to keep it clean of bed bugs, and should hire an exterminator if necessary. This doesn’t apply to normal tenants and landlords.
Neb. Admin. R. & Regs. Tit. 175, Ch. 3, § 004.12 applies to healthcare facilities and demands much the same. Any health care facility has to be completely clean of vermin, bed bugs included. An unrelated law under 25 Neb. Admin. Code, Ch. 2, 005.02B(8)(a) provides that anyone who uses pesticide to kill pests has to know what they’re doing and what effect their pesticides might have on the environment.
None of these laws work for you if you’re a tenant in a regular apartment complex. You have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Nevada is similar to Kansas in that their bed bug laws relate solely to public accommodation. N.R.S. 447.030 writes the obligation of hotel owners into law—any room in a hotel infested with bed bugs has to be fumigated, disinfected and renovated until the vermin in question are entirely exterminated. Unfortunately, there’s no such specific law about bed bugs when it comes to tenants and landlords. But, as always, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
You’ll be glad to hear that New Hampshire has fairly strict rules with regards to bed bugs. The New Hampshire bed bug laws full under NHRC (New Hampshire Revised Code) Ch. 48, HB 482-FN. It’s a well thought out law that sets out the obligations of the tenant, the landlord, and the state, which so many states lack.
The state law in New Hampshire, first and foremost, stops landlords from renting out any units that they know for a fact to be infested. The landlord also has to periodically inspect the property to make sure that no bed bug infestations have taken hold.
Conversely, if the landlord finds bed bugs but the tenant won’t give them access to the property to fumigate and clean it, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant. But you’ll be glad to hear that it’s the landlord who foots the bill and that they’re legally required to investigate any claim of an infestation that you make.
New Jersey doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
New Mexico doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
New York state law doesn’t specify who’s at fault for bed bug infestations, although they do provide that no school in the state should be home to a bed bug. As a law, it makes sense, since bed bugs are easily transmitted to and caught from public spaces like schools, public transport, hotels and similar.
But like many big cities, New York City has its laws when it comes to bed bugs. This is hardly surprising. NYC is home to the bed bug renaissance, and it’s only right that the city does something about it.
The law in NYC itself states that the landlord is legally required to cover the cost of bed bug extermination. Furthermore, they have to get rid of the bed bugs within thirty days maximum. The specific law in question is NYC’s Housing and Maintenance Code, Subchapter 2, Article 4. Bedbugs are listed as one of many pests that landlords are obligated to deal with.
Not only that, but there are other responsibilities that landlords have to fulfill. They’re required to notify prospective tenants about any infestation within the last year, which is a requirement listed under the aptly named NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act. That being said, according to news reports on the law there isn’t any consequence to breaking it.
North Carolina doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
North Dakota doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Ohio is another state that protects hotel guests but not tenants. Under the Ohio Revised Code, title 37 Health-Safety-Morals, Chapter 3731: Hotels, the law states that the bedding and beds in hotels must be regularly aired and disinfected.
Anything that’s infested with vermin or bed bugs has to be either cleaned or gotten rid of. Aside from this, the only protection the state offers is the implied warranty of habitability.
But unlike the rest of the state, Cincinnati has its own bed bug law. The Cincinnati Landlord Tenant Bed Bug Law states that “the abatement of vermin is the responsibility of both the owner/manager and the occupant of an infested building.”
In other words, the city doesn’t make bed bugs the specific responsibility of either the landlord or the tenant. It’s unclear why they would make a law that doesn’t work any differently in the real world to the implied warranty of habitability.
Oklahoma doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Oregon doesn’t have any laws protecting tenants against bed bug infestations, aside from the implied warranty of habitability. However, they do also have a couple of particular laws that are unique to the state. In Oregon, under OR ADC § 333-030-0070, campgrounds have to be kept clean and free of vermin, including bed bugs.
Alright, that’s not so unusual, but the second law is. OR. REV. STAT. § 570.880 states that bed bug reports made by pest control operators to public health authorities have to maintain absolute confidentiality, including the location of the site of the infestation, and the identity of the property owner/leaseholder.
It’s not a terrible idea, but they should have taken the time to define the responsibilities of tenants and landlords first and foremost, surely! Aside from this, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Pennsylvania doesn’t have any bed bug laws that protect tenants from the cost of having them removed. The state does, though, have an old law that requires migrant labor camps to be completely free of bed bugs and other vermin.
It makes you wonder how much of a problem they used to be—there are so many laws about labor camp infestations that they can’t have been nice places to live or work! All joking aside, though, if you live in Pennsylvania you’ll have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Rhode Island doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. The only law they do have is R.I. Administrative Code 25-3-24:7. This law provides that any commercial pest control operative has to be certified by the state, which is no bad thing. However, for a tenant, only the implied warranty of habitability applies.
South Carolina doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
South Dakota doesn’t have any laws that apply to tenants and landlords. The only relevant bed bug law in the state is for vacation homes! SDAC 44:02:08:05 makes it the legal responsibility of any vacation home owner to get rid of flies, roaches, rats, mice, bed bugs and any vermin. The law also requires regular scheduled professional extermination services on an ongoing basis.
But when it comes to tenants trying to get their bed bug problem taken care of, you don’t have any specific laws to back you up. The implied warranty of habitability does apply, though.
Tennessee doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
In Texas, bed bugs are listed as a public health nuisance. This makes it the responsibility of anybody aware of an infestation to treat it. Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, Title 5 (Sanitation and environmental quality), Subtitle A—Sanitation, Ch.341 A it’s incumbent on somebody who owns a property to remove the nuisance as soon as they’re aware of it. This means that it’s the landlord’s job, and not yours, to kill the bed bugs.
There are also civil and criminal consequences for if they don’t, including criminal misdemeanor charges, civil penalties, fines, and other civil suits. Not only that, but it’s also the landlord’s responsibility to pay for the removal of the infestation, be it bed bugs, rodents, cockroaches or anything else. Texas, therefore, has one of the most comprehensive, tenant-focused bed bug laws in the country.
Utah doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. The only law they do have related to bed bugs makes it so that schools have to be designed to prevent infestation by bed bugs and any other vermin. However, for tenants, only the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Vermont doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Virginia doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Washington doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
West Virginia has a similar law to Nevada, in that hotel owners are made liable for bed bugs in their businesses. The West Virginia Code § 16-6-16 is one of those special laws that was written as a rhyming couplet! It states:
In every hotel, any room infected with vermin or bedbugs shall be fumigated, disinfected and renovated until said vermin or bedbugs are extirpated.
In plain English, they have to kill the bed bugs. As is often the case, though, West Virginia protects travelers and tourists but not people in apartment complexes. There’s no law specifically related to tenants’ rights and bed bugs. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Wisconsin state law only provides for business premises, not for rental property. As such, only the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Wyoming doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
No. In Iowa, there are very few circumstances where a tenant may stop paying rent. It is likely that if a tenant fails to pay rent based on a bedbug infestation, a landlord will pursue eviction proceedings against the tenant for nonpayment of rent.
2. Is there anything I should know before signing a new lease?
Read the lease carefully for any terms that discuss bedbugs. Some landlords have added language to leases shifting all responsibility for bedbugs to the tenant or simply stating that they are not liable for any loss of personal property due to bedbugs.
3. My rental property has been infested by bed bugs, what are my responsibilities?
The Residential Tenancies Act requires landlords to maintain the property and ensure that it complies with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. It is usually very difficult to prove how bed bugs were introduced to the rental property, therefore it is up to the landlord to take steps to correct the problem.
As a conclusion, we can safely say that no matter who is responsible for dealing with bed bug problems in a rental, constant and kind communication between all parties involved can save a lot of headaches and stress.
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