Many people grew up believing that bedbugs were not real, but they actually exist. With many people traveling globally, bedbugs have come back in full force infesting public spaces and dwellings throughout the U.S.
The treatment for bedbugs is expensive.
Laws regarding responsibilities and rights of tenants and property owners in bedbug situations vary greatly. Many cities and states have tackled this issue. In many cases, tenants are making legal claims against their property owners.
Is the Landlord to Blame For Bedbugs?
Many cities levy duties on property owners to ensure their buildings are habitable and free from pests. Property management companies and property owners want to avoid bedbugs just like their tenants.
Infestation results in losses for property owners just as it brings losses to tenants. For property owners, infestation leads to lost rents, treatment costs, damaged reputations, and lawsuits.
Before leasing out vacant premises, many property owners conduct bedbug inspections and treatments where necessary. The documentation from the inspection protects them in case tenants sue them for bedbug related damages.
Are Bedbugs the Fault of the Tenant?
In most cases, tenants are the cause of bedbugs in apartments. They introduce bedbugs through purchasing second-hand items such as decorative items, clothing, and furniture. They can also bring bedbugs into the premises by hosting infected relatives or friends.
They may also pick up bedbugs from hotels, public transportation, public venues, and take them home.
Bedbugs do not occur because of one’s hygiene or income. High-income persons who travel frequently are affected the most. Bedbugs usually travel between places on suitcases.
Tenants who detect the presence of bedbugs in their premises often attempt to have the property owners foot the cost for treatment. In some cases, they sue for damages.
It is often difficult to show that an infestation is the fault of the property owner and that the tenant is blameless.
What You Should Do
Before you rent a residence, inquire from the landlord whether the space has a history of bedbug infestation. The landlord is required to disclose this information.
If your apartment is infested with bedbugs inform your landlord immediately. It is also advisable to inquire from other tenants whether they are going through the same problem.
If bedbugs spread to a couple of units and common spaces in the building, this is a serious problem and the responsibility of the landlord.
How to Determine Responsibility
You are held responsible for treating an infestation if you introduced it. Failing to treat an infestation that you caused is enough reason for the landlord to evict you.
When the reason for the infestation is not clear, landlords and tenants usually split the expense.
If the premises were infested when you came in and you have prove to show it, and have made a complaint, it is the landlord’s liability. In many states, tenants can decline from paying rent or break their lease if the landlord fails to treat an infestation which is their fault.
The law on apartment bedbug infestation is complex and has led to the rise of a new practice of bedbug law.
It is advisable to consult a lawyer to understand the laws of your respective state regarding bedbugs and the occasions when you can hold the landlord liable for bedbug bites or other form of damages.