This FAQ attempts to answer one of the first questions renting tenants, co-op owners and condo owners ask, when confronted with bed bugs, is: who’s responsible for paying for their elimination?

The laws vary. We are not lawyers. There may be inaccuracies or errors or speculative comments below. Use what you find below as a starting point, verify the laws in place in your location, which apply to your housing situation, and work from there.

If you are a tenant (renter), please find out the laws in your area about the responsibility of landlords vs. renters to eliminate a bedbug problem. A local tenants’ rights organization probably exists in your city, and they’re probably the best free source of information regarding landlords’ responsibility to pay for treatment. Remember that you, the tenant, also have responsibilities, like reporting infestations promptly (doing so in writing protects you legally), and complying with treatment. Responsibility is not always a clear-cut matter, so please use this FAQ as a starting point, and realize that you may need to figure out how the local laws define your dwelling, your status, and who is required to pay.

If your country, state, province, or territory is not mentioned below, or you know of online information about bed bug laws in your locality, please help us by posting a link in the comments below.

If you need to check on local laws or how to get them enforced, a local tenants’ rights organization may help. Some are listed here (note: we cannot vouch for the contents of this website).

Australia

We have some information on Western Australia, and the general laws for Australia (which may vary for each state). If you have local information, please leave a comment below.

Canada

In Canada, so far, we have specific information for Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia.

But a roundup of links to laws on all other areas in Canada can be found on the CBC website.

United States

In the USA, so far we have information for
Arizona
Baltimore
Boston
Chicago
Columbus, Ohio
Connecticut
Florida
Jersey City (see also NJ)
Minnesota
New York City
New York State
New Jersey (see alsoJersey City)
Rhode Island
San Francisco
Seattle
Stamford
Washington State
Washington DC

Consumerist has links to Landlord Tenant Law for Every (US) State, which is not specific to bed bugs, but should help you if nothing below does.

—————-


Australia

Regarding Australia, reader Cody writes,

Tenants in Australia are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (which has slightly different versions for each state, though are mostly the same).

Western Australia
For Western Australia section 42 states the owner:

(a) shall provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness;
(b) shall provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair having regard to their age, character and prospective life; and
(c) shall comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health and safety under any other written law in so far as they apply to the premises.

It doesn’t specifically mention bed bugs or other pests, and I haven’t found any state health and safety legislation for buildings yet, but owners have been prosecuted for bed bugs using this legislation, see: Chessels v Wood (Residential Tenancy) [2004] NSWCTTT 306 (8 June 2004).

In these cases the owner is always responsible, not the real estate agent or a head-tenant or anyone else. It’s the owner that you must take to magistrate’s court.

The main caveat is that not everyone will be considered a tenant – specifically borders and lodgers are excluded. A court can also deem this law will or will not apply to you using Section 84.

If you’re not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, you may be able to use another law to pursue a case.

Canada

Ontario (Updated 1/25/2012)

In Ontario, according to the Ontario bed bug portal, bedbugsinfo.ca, landlords are responsible for treating for bed bugs, and tenants are responsible for cooperating with the landlord’s efforts to do so:

Who is responsible when a bed bug infestation is discovered in my apartment?

If you have a problem with bed bugs or other insects or pests, you should immediately inform your landlord, your superintendent or property manager, or someone else who is responsible for ensuring homes are pest-free. As a tenant, you are responsible for cooperating with your landlord’s efforts to control bed bugs. It is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the rental unit so that is fit for habitation and complies with health standards.

Make sure you read, in particular, this page with information on tenants’ rights and what to do if your landlord does not provide the required assistance.

Vancouver

Click here to read Vancouver Coastal Health’s pamphlet on bed bugs: Click here to load a PDF.

Reader Sean (a Canadian Pest Control Operator and entomologist) reports on Vancouver, British Columbia:

In October of this year the city of Vancouver BC has extended the responsibilities of a landlord to include bed bug erradication.

Their are some loopholes, like the client must cooperate with the pest control companies.

In addition, as of February 2007 it will be illegal for landlords to apply any pest related chemicals within a suite other than their own personal living space. If they would like to do so they will need to become a licensed pest control operator.

Thanks, Sean.



Arizona

Updated 1/2012.

In April 2011, the Arizona governor signed a law (SB1306) which accorded landlords and tenants certain responsibilities in terms of bed bugs.

As I understand it, the law,

  • Prohibits landlords from renting units known to have current bed bug infestations.
  • Requires landlords to provide bed bug educational materials to existing and new tenants.
  • Prohibits tenants from moving items into the building if they are known to be infested with bed bugs.
  • Requires tenants to notify landlords in writing or electronically of the presence of bed bugs.
  • (You can read the full text of SB1306 here.)

    Here’s an article from Bedbugger.com raising questions about the Arizona law. It also includes video from a local Fox station on new law.

    What is not entirely clear to us from that text is how these provisions affect who pays for bed bug treatment. We recommend contacting a local tenants’ organization for advice (one AZ tenant advocate is interviewed in the video embedded in the article previously mentioned), or consulting a lawyer or legal aid service, if you’re not sure about your rights.



    Baltimore, MD

    The law appears to be that landlords are responsible for eliminating pests only if they occur in more than one unit. Peoples-law.org says:

    Rat proofing and pest extermination

    Where infestation occurs in the shared or public areas or in 2 or more dwelling units in a building, the owner is responsible for extermination of rats, insects, or other pests.

    All dwellings and dwelling units must be rat-proofed and kept in a rat-proof condition by the owner. Rat proofing includes but is not limited to: 1) using rat impervious material to block all passages by which rats could enter from outside; and 2) paving basements, cellars, and other areas in contact with the earth; eliminating rat breeding places by keeping areas clean; removing rats’ nests, etc.

    A landlord with any sense would pay to have bed bugs removed from one unit, rather than waiting until they spread to multiple units. And I would, if I were a tenant in Baltimore with bed bugs, try and negotiate politely with the landlord on that basis.

    See the source of the Baltimore information cited above here.


    Boston(Updated 8/16/13 for clarity and to reflect changes to resources cited and linked to.)

    Apparently there’s a division of the Boston Housing Dept. Inspectional Services (ISD) that works as Bed Bug Inspectors.

    Here’s what the Boston Inspectional Services Division (ISD) can do (according to the BISD website):

    To effectively address bed bug infestations in Boston, ISD endeavors to educate inspectors, property managers, exterminators and the general public on the nature of bed bugs, bed bug prevention and the proper extermination of bed bugs. We endeavor to assist owners, tenants, and pest control operators in exterminating for bed bugs by attending extermination visits, assisting with education & preparation and by sharing our knowledge and experience on best practices.

    Bed Bug Inspection Orders:

    • We require written extermination reports, within 14 days of a notice of violation, and prior to closing a case. Although Bed bug infestations do not get resolved quickly, we endeavor to work with owner’s who have contracted licensed Pest Control Operators, who have treatments programs in place, and who provide written documentation on the treatment programs.
    • Our Standard bed bug notice of violation also requires that owners inspect all units in the dwelling, and they must treat all horizontally and vertically adjacent units to the infested unit(s).

    Let me repeat: the housing inspectors in Boston generally require landlords to treat all horizontally and vertically adjacent units, and to inspect every unit in the building. However, you do need to get the inspectors in to confirm the problem and issue a violation.

    Education & Outreach: Boston ISD has conducted an outreach effort over the years, one which:

    • Targets areas with a concentration of infestations.
    • Educates and offers inspections to those residing in the targeted area.
    • Engages & educates the local community leaders and activists.
    • Utilizes the media attention to educate and raise awareness of residents in all parts of Boston.

    If a landlord is notified by tenants about bed bugs, and does not eliminate them, tenants should call the Housing Inspection Division at (617) 635-5322. Or, Boston residents can report bed bugs using an online form linked from the Boston ISD page.

    According to the Allston Brighton Community Development Guide (PDF), Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation still has a Bed Bug Initiative, which may be helpful to those in the area. At one time they were giving grants to landlords and homeowners to help pay for treatment, however, we can no longer find information online on that specifically. However, Allston Brighton residents can call the ABCDC contact listed below for more information on what help is available to tenants or owners.

    Bedbug Initiative
    The bedbug eradication initiative provides extermination advice and incentives to tenants and
    owners to eliminate bedbugs in Allston Brighton. Contact Ava Chan: 617-787-3874 x201

    Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation
    320 Washington Street, 3rd floor
    Brighton 02135
    www.allstonbrightoncdc.org


    Chicago
    (Updated 7/31/2011 to reflect changes to information provided by City of Chicago and Metropolitan Tenants Organization websites about bed bugs.)

    The City of Chicago Bed Bug Information page is a bit murky on responsibility for treatment (as are the various leaflets linked from this page, compiled by the city’s bed bug information partner, the Safer Pest Control Project), but the City page does note that “you can report instances of bed bug infestation in an apartment building or commercial building by calling 311 or by filing an online complaint with the Dept. of Buildings.” Keep in mind that most tenants probably ask their landlords for help directly first.

    The non-profit Metropolitan Tenants Organization (MTO) also notes on its bed bug FAQ that

    According to Chicago’s building code, the responsibility lies with the landlord when pest infestations are present in two or more units of a building. Bed bug eradication is not an easy task and will almost always require a pest control professional who practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM), however the law does not specify whether or not the landlord must actually hire a professional.

    On the other hand, The Residential Landlord-Tenant Ordinance says landlords have to exterminate pests (see section 5-12-110).

    Chicago Bedbugger S. says,

    This is [Metropolitan Tenants Organization FAQ on Apartment Condition and Repairs]. It says specifically, under “What must my landlord do to maintain the condition of my apartment?”, that your landlord must “Protect you against rodents and insects by exterminating.”

    This worked for me with my landlord.

    Thanks, S!

    While we have heard from a number of Chicago Bedbuggers who apparently received treatment from their landlords when a single unit in a building was (reported as) affected, the MTO’s information suggests Chicago landlords need to treat for bed bugs only if more than one unit has them. I recommend contacting Metropolitan Tenants Org. for more information and assistance. You can contact them via this form (or number) or live via their website chat during hotline hours:

    You can call MTO’s Tenants’ Rights Hotline [information here] to speak with a hotline counselor about your situation. The hotline is open Monday through Friday, 1pm – 5pm.

    If you live in a building with 12 or more units and other renters in the building are living with bed bugs, you may also request a visit from an organizer who can assist you in getting your requests met by your landlord.

    MTO has dedicated community organizers willing to help you and fellow tenants organize to get appropriate help with bed bugs from your landlord. See the MTO’s page about this.


    Columbus, Ohio

    According to this Columbus Dispatch article from 9/2010, responsibility for treatment in Columbus rentals depends on whether you’re renting an apartment in a multi-family building, or renting a single-family house:

    Apartment-dwellers should notify their landlord immediately so treatment can start, said Bill Willis, a lawyer who represents building owners. Columbus codes say it’s usually a landlord’s duty to treat for the bugs in a multifamily rental, he said. In a single-family home, it’s the renter’s responsibility.


    Connecticut

    For New Haven, see this comment

    Stamford


    Florida

    From this site: Florida Residential Real Estate Law:

    General Landlord Duties

    Landlords are required to deliver possession of the rental property to the renter when the lease period begins. Failure to do so may entitle the renter to sue for damages. A landlord must ensure that residential property is habitable. This includes complying with all building, housing and health codes. Roofs, windows, screens, doors, floors, steps, porches, walls and other structural elements must be kept in good repair. Certain pests (e.g., rats, mice, roaches, ants, bedbugs) must be exterminated, . . . Landlords requiring access to a tenant’s residence for repairs must give the tenant reasonable notice, which is defined as at least 12 hours prior to entry.

    Florida PIRG may be a useful resource; they have a Florida Renter’s Handbook. It explains how to file a housing code violation in Florida if that applies to your specific rental situation.



    Minnesota

    According to Kelly Klein’s Renting and the Law column in the Star-Tribune, if you are a tenant with bed bugs,

    You have the right to demand that your landlord take action to resolve the issue. Under Minnesota law, the landlord has to remedy such problems.

    What’s more, Klen says you may have a right to a rent escrow action if the problem is not remedied in 14 days. Please read her column on this, and contact local tenants’ advice organizations or a lawyer or legal aid service if you need help; we are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice.

    This article in the Minnesota Post from May 2009 suggests Minnesota tenants call non-profit tenant advocacy organization HOME Line for advice on their rights.

    If you’re a renter and need legal advice about your bedbug problem, you can call HOME Line‘s tenant hotline. The hotline provides free legal advice to tenants. Call 612-728-5767. If you’re calling from Greater Minnesota, call 866-866-3546.


    New Jersey

    This is the relevant section of LSNJ Law which describes the warrant of habitability laws. Among other things, the warrant of habitability says rental units must be kept pest-free.

    Using the housing and health codes

    As discussed in the preceding section, rental units must meet city and state housing and health codes. The codes list the requirements that the landlord’s property must meet so that it can be approved as a safe or “standard” building. The codes deal with heat, plumbing, security, roofing, pests, and other serious defects like weak walls.

    If you feel that the conditions in your apartment or house are defective, unlivable, or dangerous, tell your landlord. If your landlord fails to make the repairs in a reasonable period of time, call the local building inspector and ask him or her to inspect the property as soon as possible. If you can, be present when the inspector does the inspection so that you can point out all of the problems. Ask for the inspector’s name, and ask him or her to send you a copy of the report.

    If the needed repairs present a sanitation problem, such as a sewage leak, call the city or county board of health. Ask for an inspector to check the condition. When the inspector comes, get his or her name.

    If the inspector finds code violations, he or she will send a letter to the landlord listing the code violations. This letter will advise the landlord that a reinspection to check whether the repairs have been made will take place on a certain date.

    Some housing and health code inspectors do not send the tenant a copy of the inspection reports or inform the tenant of the results of the inspection. As a tenant in the property, you have a right to receive a copy of these reports, and you should make sure to ask that copies of all reports be sent to you.

    We are not lawyers and don’t live in New Jersey, but this should give you a starting point. Whether you or the landlord is responsible to pay may also depend on the type of home, the lease terms, etc. There are tenants’ organizations everywhere. The NJ one, New Jersey Tenants’ Organization, may be able to advise you further.

    Update (9/2008):

    Apparently, NJ landlords do have to pay for treatment, but many pass the costs on to the tenant.


    Jersey City has just passed an ordinance specifying that landlords must pay outright for an initial and follow-up bed bug treatment. See this article for details. (If additional treatments are needed, as they so often are, the landlord can charge the tenant.) This law applies to buildings with 2 or more units.



    New York State

    From the New York State Attorney General’s Tenants Rights page:

    LANDLORDS’ DUTY OF REPAIR

    Landlords of buildings with three or more apartments must keep the apartments and the buildings’ public areas in “good repair” and clean and free of vermin, garbage or other offensive material. Landlords are required to maintain electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating systems and appliances landlords install, such as refrigerators and stoves in good and safe working order. Tenants should bring complaints to the attention of their local housing officials. (Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL) §78 and §80; Multiple Residence Law (MRL) §174. The MDL applies to cities with a population of 325,000 or more and the MRL applies to cities with less than 325,000 and to all towns and villages.)

    Nassau County:

    If you have or encounter bed bugs in Nassau County, the department of health’s website instructs you to call the following numbers to report them:

    • Tenants –  Nassau County Dept.of Health Office of Community Sanitation – (516) 227-9715
    • Homeowners  (and residents, travelers, college students, etc.) – Nassau County Dept. of Health Healthy Homes Program –  (516) 227-9459
    • Hotels/Motels – Nassau County Department of Health Bureau of Environmental Sanitation –  (516) 227-9717


    New York City

    Many times, people on this site (myself included) have said, “the landlord is responsible for paying for elimination of bed bugs in New York City.” This is true in most cases. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was all cases, as this Real Estate article from the New York Times (last October) implies. The FAQ has always stated clearly that there are exceptions (such as buildings with 3 or fewer units) where tenants may be responsible. To be honest, we’re not sure about where those exceptions occur, but it seems to hinge on whether you’re defined in some cases as an “occupant in charge of the dwelling” (which tenants in larger buildings apparently are not).

    It appears to be true, according to the information below, that landlords must arrange and pay for elimination of bed bugs if you are a renting tenant, AND:
    1. Your apartment building has 3 or more rental units, OR
    2. You live in NYC-owned housing.

    There may be other exceptions, and the resources below should help you figure out if you’re an exception.

    In NYC, in most cases, landlords are responsible for eliminating insect problems, including bedbugs. You can read more about the laws here: NYC Rent Guidelines Board, Ch. 2 of Housing Maintenance Code, or here: Met Council on Housing’s Bedbugs page. (If you’re not sure of your rights on any issue related to renting in NYC, call Met Council, a non-profit tenants’ rights organization.)


    Subchapter two of the NYC Housing Code:

    Sec. 27-2017 Definitions

    When used in this article:

    1. Eradication means the elimination of rodents or insects and other pests from any premises through the use of traps, poisons, fumigation or any other method of extermination.

    2. Insects and other pests include the members of class insecta, including houseflies, lice, bees, cockroaches, moths, silverfish, beetles, bedbugs, ants, termites, hornets, mosquitoes and wasps, and such members of the phylum arthropoda as spiders, mites, ticks, centipedes and wood lice.

    3. Harborage means any condition which provides shelter or protection for rodents or insects and other pests.

    [back to top]
    Sec. 27-2018 Rodent and insect eradication; mandatory extermination

    1. The owner or occupant in control of a dwelling shall keep the premises free from rodents, and from infestations of insects and other pests, and from any condition conducive to rodent or insect and other pest life.

    2. When any premises are subject to infestation by rodents or insects and other pests, the owner or occupant in control shall apply continuous eradication measures.

    3. When the department makes the determination that any premises are infested by rodents, insects or other pests, it may order such eradication measures as the department deems necessary.


    Subchapter two of the NYC Housing Code
    clearly states that bed bugs must be eradicated by the “owner or occupant in control of a dwelling”:

    But here’s where it gets confusing: If you are a tenant (renter), are you the owner? No. But are you the “occupant in control of a dwelling”? Sometimes. This may be true if the property you’re renting is, for example, a house with a rental unit or two. The same kinds of buildings, I assume, where landlords need not issue leases. Please seek advice from Met Council or a lawyer.

    The NYC website says,

    The City accepts reports of bed bugs in private residences, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property, hotels, single room occupancy buildings, day care centers, and subways. To report bed bugs in a private house or apartment, you must be a tenant in the building.

    To report bed bugs in a domestic violence shelter, contact the shelter director.


    You can read more here.
    Or Call 311 to report bed bugs.

    Here’s the Rent Guidelines Board’s information on Warrants of Habitability and Landlord’s Duty to Repair:

    WARRANTY OF HABITABILITY

    Tenants are entitled to a livable, safe and sanitary apartment. Lease provisions inconsistent with this right are illegal. Failure to provide heat or hot water on a regular basis, or to rid an apartment of insect infestation are examples of a violation of this warranty. Public areas of the building are also covered by the warranty of habitability. The warranty of habitability also applies to cooperative apartments, but not to condominiums. Any uninhabitable condition caused by the tenant or persons under his direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. (Real Property Law §235-b)

    Note that the landlord has responsibilities, but the tenant does too. We have not heard of any tenants who were forced to pay because they “caused” the “uninhabitable condition,” but the possibility is there.

    The above item also seems to imply that co-ops are responsible for eradicating pests, not the individual owners. Readers who are co-op owners have claimed that owners are responsible, but this implies they aren’t. Perhaps someone who is an expert on housing law can clarify this. The New York Times article from October implies co-op and condo unit owners are responsible except,

    In some instances the building might be responsible — if, for example, bedbugs have affected multiple apartments, and their source is not readily traceable or attributable to a particular unit owner.

    Back to the Warranty of Habitability:

    If a landlord breaches the warranty, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. The tenant may also withhold rent, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for nonpayment of rent. In such a case, the tenant may countersue for breach of the warranty.

    Rent reductions may be ordered if a court finds that the landlord violated the warranty of habitability. The reduction is computed by subtracting from the actual rent the estimated value of the apartment without the essential services.

    A landlord’s liability for damages is limited when the failure to provide services is the result of a union-wide building workers’ strike. However, a court may award damages to a tenant equal to a share of the landlord’s net savings because of the strike. Landlords will be liable for lack of services caused by a strike when they have not made a good faith attempt, where practicable, to provide services.

    In emergencies, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct reasonable repair costs from the rent. For example, when a landlord has been notified that a door lock is broken and willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a locksmith and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should keep receipts for such repairs.

    I would not undertake any of the above (eg making your own repairs) without seeking legal advice. If you’re renting, call Met Council on Housing for more information on the laws and what to do, or consult a lawyer.


    Met Council on Housing advises tenants in New York City. Their Bedbugs Fact Sheet says:

    Tenants’ Rights: Apartment Buildings and Hotels
    Obviously, multiple dwellings offer bedbugs the perfect environment, since the bugs can hide in the walls while one unit is cleaned and then appear in another, or return to reinfest the original room or apartment. Hotels traditionally have had difficulty removing bedbugs, because bedding is often carried from one room to another, and while one infested unit might be cleaned, it’s rare for the entire hotel to be shut down so all the rooms can be fumigated.

    For tenants in New York City, the right to a bedbug-free environment derives from the city’s housing and maintenance code-which specifically names bedbugs, along with a number of other unpleasant pests. The landlord has an obligation to eradicate the infestation and to keep the units from getting reinfested. If your landlord refuses to take the necessary steps, you can file a complaint with the city department of Housing Preservation and Development (call 311) or take the owner to Housing Court in an HP action. As with any problem you have concerning repairs or services, it is important to notify the landlord of the condition in writing (send by certified mail, return receipt requested, and save a copy) and to let the owner and manager know what steps you expect them to take.

    Note, again, this says “apartment buildings and hotels.” Many of NYC’s housing laws vary when applied to small-scale landlords, who rent out an apartment or a few. If this describes your situation, you need to look into your lease and if you do not have one (which probably means you’re in a very small building with fewer than 3 units), seek advice from Met Council or another source. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and people have to be aware of which laws apply to their situations.

    If you live in housing run by the New York City Housing Authority, read this.

    Any NYC tenant can call 311 and report a bedbug infestation. Information on how to do this, and what will happen next, is here. You might feel like you don’t want to do this, for example if your landlord is your friend, and you think they might be more helpful if a complaint is not formally made. You might prefer simply to deal with the landlord directly. However, don’t forget about this option if your landlord is slow to act, wants you to pay for extermination, or hires bad exterminators. When you’re being bitten by bloodsucking monsters, not getting any sleep, and walking around with ugly welts and sores, any warm feelings you have for landlords who are not quick to respond will undoubtedly go right out the window.

    Calling 311 will mean the city sends a housing inspector to inspect your home for bedbugs, the inspector files a report, and this forces your landlord to eliminate the problem within 30 days. (I am not sure what happens if your problem is so severe that it takes more than 30 days to eliminate, but this is what I heard.) Your report will become part of the building violations listed here.

    Under Housing Violations Look-Up on the right hand side of this page, type your building number and street name; you may be surprised to find someone else in your building has already reported a bedbug infestation! (You may also find rat or mouse infestations, which can cause bedbug infestations.) Violations are removed when they are fixed.

    Finally, there are some links to information on taking legal action.

    This is the website from the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court. It is general (not specific to bedbugs) but does tell you about the process of taking a landlord to court. Most importantly, though most of us won’t go to court, we need to keep good records (log of actions taken such as calls to landlord, pictures of bites, copies of doctor’s records if they inspect bites, copies of allergy medication prescriptions which are related to infestation, photos of bugs, samples of bugs, carcasses, or waste droppings, photos of items wrapped for storage, pictures of destroyed and discarded furniture, receipts for everything from prescriptions to vacuum cleaner bags, storage tubs and bags, new furniture, pesticides, and exterminators).

    This is NYC lawyer Steven DeCastro’s housing information page (for tenants) on bedbugs, and this is a desctiption of the Judge’s Decision on Peter Young’s case. Peter Young was a tenant with bedbugs who was given a 6-month 45% rent abatement.


    Rhode Island

    This is what we know: this article from the Brown student newspaper says,

    . . . according to Rhode Island’s “Housing Maintenance and Occupancy Code,” the infestation is the tenant’s responsibility if it is in one dwelling unit, but the owner’s responsibility if it is in more than one dwelling unit.

    If you’re in Rhode Island, I would verify this with a tenants’ advice bureau. And if it’s true, I would caution anyone against assuming you are the only infested unit even if your landlord says you are, even if the neighbor says you are. Call a group that gives tenants advice, and find out what they suggest.


    San Francisco

    In San Francisco, the law says landlords pay for bed bug treatment, according to “Beating Bed Bugs: Landlords and property managers dealing with a bed bug infestation:”(PDF)

    Article 11, Sec. 581(a) and 581(b)(8) of the San
    Francisco Health Code state that property owners
    cannot have pests on their property. Property owners
    or their agent who violate these Health Code sections
    may be subject to administrative penalty for each
    violation.

    If you suspect a bed bug problem on your property,
    you are strongly advised to contact the Environmental
    Health Section of the San Francisco Department of
    Public Health for advice on eliminating the bed bug
    problem.

    SFDoPH has a Vector Control Department which apparently takes complaints about pests (you can call Norma Castro 415-252-3805 to report a complaint, as of January 2010). The Environmental Health section of the SFDoPH also advises landlords on bed bug treatment (according to the same brochure).

    SFDoPH provides information on prevention (PDF) and treatment (PDF) for residents and on prevention (PDF) and treatment (PDF) for landlords. You may find the latter useful when dealing with your landlord.


    Seattle and Washington State

    Reader amysee helped us find this information. She writes,

    In Seattle:
    – The landlord is obligated to control insects, rodents and other pests

    In Washington State:

    -The landlord is obligated to control pests before the tenant moves in. The landlord must continue to control infestations except in single family dwellings, or when the infestation was caused by the tenant

    Both clauses from this City of Seattle Department of Housing and Development PDF on tenants’ rights.

    In theory, the Seattle law trumps the state law if it is stronger, which one could argue it is; though it seems unfortunately vague.

    Thanks, amysee!


    Stamford, CT

    According to this article in the Stamford Advocate,

    If a bed bug case is reported in rented housing, the city requires landlords to exterminate until the problem is resolved, [Health Inspector Mike] Kraynak said. First, a resident must find a bed bug and take it to the city as evidence. If a lab worker confirms it is a bed bug, the city sends an extermination order. Usually, if the apartment is six units or less, the city requires the entire building be treated. In larger complexes, the city requires treating only the affected unit and those surrounding it.

    The article said Stamford residents can also show up at the government center’s front desk to see bed bug information including examples for identification.

    Washington State

    See “Seattle,” above.


    Washington D.C.

    I took the following information off of a Washington Post real estate advice column. It appears that in D.C., the landlord’s liability depends on whether only one apartment is infested or not. According to Sara Gebhardt’s column in the Washington Post (3/2/2007), in which she responded to a Washington DC tenant whose landlord was refusing to pay for bed bug treatment,

    Your landlord has an obligation to manage the infestation if your unit is not the only one infested. Talk to your neighbors and find out if they have bedbugs, too. Chances are they do, as those critters generally launch large-scale attacks on apartment buildings.

    According to Section 805 of the District’s housing code, landlords have to do their part to keep out vermin and rodents. Part 805.3 of the law states, “If an infestation of a single habitation is caused by failure of the owner or licensee to maintain a residential building in a rodent-proof or reasonably insect-proof condition, the exterminating shall be done by the owner or licensee.” (By “owner or licensee” the law means what most people would call a landlord.)

    Additionally, Section 805.5 holds, “The extermination of vermin and rodents shall be done by the owner or licensee whenever infestation exists in two (2) or more of the habitations in two-family or multiple dwellings.”

    She adds later,

    Any evidence you can dig up that your neighbors also have bedbugs will help persuade your landlord to deal with the extermination. At the very least, if he does not respond, it will serve as a substantial basis for filing a complaint with the local housing office.

    Disclaimer: Bedbugger does not offer legal advice. Do the research on where you live (even if you live in NYC), find out your rights, and demand they’re met! Do not assume that the laws are the same everywhere else. Do not assume that since Peter Young’s case was successful, that you should withhold your rent. Contact a lawyer to discuss your legal situation.

    Remember also that tenants have responsibilities too, and it’s always possible someone is going to try to use that section of your local code to blame you for an infestation. Talk to a lawyer if this happens, and make sure the lawyer learns how difficult it is to prove fault with bed bugs, even in the face of apparent evidence. (This can work in your favor as well as against.)

    Please do leave a comment below (or email me here) containing links to any useful sites about tenants’ rights relating to bedbug infestations for your locality (any city, state, country). I will do my best to make sure this information is included here and saves someone else the trouble of hunting it down.

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    1 Furious Tenant February 8, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Hi,

    I had rashes a couple of months back. I thought those rashes were from allergies so I went to see a couple of doctors. They all told me the rashes look like insect bites. A couple weeks later, I found one bed bug on my bed and from then on I found more than ten by now. I complained to my aprtment to have my apartment sprayed. Terminix came and sprayed but the bed bugs never go away. Until now, an eternity since I’ve first got bitten, I’m still bitten by bed bugs and see them on my wall occassionally. I just killed two a couple of minutes ago. The worst part is my apartment (NORTHPOINT APT) don’t ever rent an apt there. They said they’ve hired Terminix to spray my entire apt again last Tuesday. However, just because I left my blanket and two pillows (WITHOUT SHEETS) on by bed, they refuse to spray the entire apt, claiming that I had not done the pretreatment preparation when in fact I’ve done everything (wash all my clothes, dry clean my blanket, vacuum my apt, etc). This pissed me off, I told them they can go ahead and spray my blankets and pillows. I had just slept on them in the morning and that’s why they are on my bed! I’m an acountant and this is a busy season, so this bed bug problem is really making my life miserable. The fact that this has been going on for months also pissed me off. I’m alergic to bed bug bites, one bite will itch for at least a week. Can somebody help me? Maybe you know of a better bed bug exterminator? Any lawyer so that I can sue my apartment?
    Thanks,

    2 ICHEUMON March 5, 2007 at 8:45 am

    27-2018 NY

    By the way “occupant in control” can certainly
    be and has been in some cases to be the primary
    tenant, hence the question as to who really is
    responsible. Unfortunately the bed bugs don’t care.
    See NYC laws below.
    1. The owner or occupant in control of a dwelling shall keep the premises free from rodents, and from infestations of insects and other pests, and from any condition conducive to rodent or insect and other pest life.

    2. When any premises are subject to infestation by rodents or insects and other pests, the owner or occupant in control shall apply continuous eradication measures.

    3 nobugsonme March 5, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Iceheumon,
    I see what you’re saying, and the wording is certainly a source of confusion. But most tenants are not “occupants in control.” The city of NY tells us landlords are responsible for eradicating pests.
    Could you give us some examples of situations where the “occupant in control” is the renting tenant?
    Thanks!

    4 S June 22, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Hey Nobugs, can you please add Chicago to this list?

    This is the Landlord/Tenant Ordinance. It says specifically, under “What must my landlord do to maintain the condition of my apartment?”, that your landlord must “Protect you against rodents and insects by exterminating.”

    This worked for me with my landlord.

    5 buggedout September 3, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    We live north of NYC by 30 minutes. I live in an 8 unit building, and although I posted anonymous fliers, no one will admit they are having a problem but me. We are afraid our landlord will evict us if we say something. We are sure to be blamed, yet it also our duty to report it. I am broke from PCO’s, laundry, special products and mattress protectors. I do not know what to do. Do we tell him and force him to deal with the problem? Or will get blamed and evicted? We have been living in this apt. for nearly 2 years, and after my boyfriend returned from London, about 3 weeks later, we noticed bedbugs. We have rodent and roach problems as well in this bldg – still battling those -and I am very clean.

    6 nobugsonme September 3, 2007 at 9:55 pm

    Buggedout,

    Sorry you are going through this.

    Why would you be blamed? I assume you mean because you’re the first to report, and yes, that is often a problem. However, a PCO who knows what they’re doing will tell the landlord that other units are infested, as I’d guess they are.

    It is unlikely that you can get rid of them if your neighbors have them and they are not aggressively treated there at the same time.

    I don’t know if you can be evicted. Look in your local phone book for a tenants’ rights organization or try talking to some social service agencies.

    Rodents CAN lead to bed bugs if the rodents die or are removed, and they had bugs feeding on them.

    Does your landlord live in the building?

    I guess a lot depends on how intelligent your landlord is, how much they pay attention to the news. Word is starting to spread.

    7 James Buggles September 3, 2007 at 11:14 pm

    It’s not that easy to evict someone. Learn about your rights. You need not be afraid.

    8 buggedbadger September 5, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    buggedout:

    I am a landlord in Wisconsin (and a bedbug victim). If your landlord attempts to evict you for bringing bedbugs into the building, you will have to appear in housing court. Keep receipts, take photographs. If you have evidence that you have taken reasonable measures to mitigate the problem it is unlikely that an eviction will succeed. Just as with a tenant breaking a lease, the tenant would have to show that the landlord took almost no action to resolve the problem.

    This does not mean that the landlord will be required to renew your lease when it comes up, but check NY law on lease renewals. I do not think if you have evidence of working on the problem you will be subject to eviction. But you will have to notify the landlord (by registered mail preferable). If you do not then you could certainly be in a worse position before the bench.

    I’m no lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but I suggest you make sure the landlord is properly notified.

    As to the notices you put up, keep in mind that other tenants may not even anonymously want to identify that they have an infestation, due to the remaining stigma.

    9 bedbugeeinCT September 6, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    (Sorry this is so long!)
    I’m a 3 year resident of a 40 unit apt in West Haven, CT. Last Tues (8/28/07) I found a notice at my door informing me (and 8 other of the 12 apartments in my wing of the bldg) that bedbug inspections were to begin the coming Thursday (8/30/07) at 1:00 pm. On the notice was a list of actions I was to complete before the PC company arrived. I was expected to “…complete these steps on the extermination day, all at once, all in one day…”
    The list included removing and laundering in hot water all cloth items from ALL rooms, closets, drawers, etc.; removing all clutter (including knick-knacks, picture frames, etc.), destroying and discarding infested items & furniture; and vacuuming ALL surfaces with a stong-suction vacuum. All by 1:00 pm.
    Then I am to have the PC co. treat the home & furniture.

    The day before the inspection was scheduled, I knocked on doors and spoke to some of the other tenants listed on my notice. Not ONE of them planned to make ANY effort to comply, one even saying, “If they find something, THEN I’ll deal with it…” I found at that 2 tenants had already moved out last month, citing bedbugs as their reason, one in the apt directly below mine! Creeped out at the thought, I went poking around. Sure enough, now I got ‘em!

    Needless to say, though I began at 6:00 am, I was only able to complete about 3/5th of the list. I called the Super to let him know that I wasn’t able to finish. He began to chastise me for waiting til the last minute to let him know, at which point (I’m afraid) I kinda’ lost it. I told him I was working on it, that I’ve already thrown away 1/2 of my winter wardrobe (can’t wash wool in hot water!) but that he didn’t give a hell of a lot of notice, now, did he?!?
    He immediately changed his tone (an absolute shock, if you knew this guy!) but he assured me that ‘the pest guys will work with’ me.

    ‘Working with me’ was comprised of the guy walking in the door with a capless can of insecticide. I told him I’d already found the bugs, but I didn’t have enough notice to comply with the instructions properly. He emptied the can on my mattress, and opened another can to use on my boxspring and the recliner I’d found my first bug on. He told me I’d have to get the recliner out myself (I’m on the 3rd floor!).

    And that’s where it stands. I haven’t heard anything from anybody (I’ll admit, I’ve barely been home since, but I can’t help but feel we’re going at it in a less than efficient way. I REALLY just want to move out, if I’m just going to be reinfested over and over again….

    Does anyone have any advice, or perhaps knows of legal resources in my area? How much IS the tenant expected to do?

    Thank you.

    10 nobugsonme September 6, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    bedbugeeinCT,

    Let me see if I understand this: are you saying that you were there for the PCO’s entire visit and ALL he did was spray mattress and recliner?

    It’s essential that the actual apartment be treated, as well as the undersides and insides of wooden furniture. Bed bugs can hide in cracks. It’s not just about upholstered furniture.

    And did he only use one substance? That too is not good. But treating only furniture is ridiculous.

    11 bedbugeeinCT September 6, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Yes, ONLY the mattress, boxspring and recliner. He said it’d be pointless to do the rest til I’d complied with the list first.

    I’ve covered the mattress/boxspring with the zippable dustmite covers, but I already KNOW that the spray was inadequate for the chair, because of the overstuffed styling, and tufty, loosely woven fabric (he said it ‘lasted’ for two weeks, a residual insecticide, I imagine, but I didn’t catch the name on the can).
    He told me that I’D have to clean the furniture, especially the undersides of drawers, etc., but then he also said that bedbugs can’t crawl more than 15 feet (!), so I’m not all that trusting of his training in general.

    When I told him that I’d spoken to a girl who lives in my wing, but was not one of the apartments to receive a notice; she showed me a ‘spider bite’ (or so she thought) on her neck/shoulder that she said had been itching her for two weeks. It was actually 3 welts, all in a row….

    He told me to tell her to call the company.

    12 hopelessnomo September 6, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Instructing tenants to destroy infested furniture sight unseen is very bad policy. Most things are treatable and this is really amazing.

    Not wanting to treat until the tenant prepares fully is more common; I’ve heard of that.

    Typically, PCOs need access to your furniture and walls, closets, dressers, etc. If there is a lot of stuff, they can’t work. Laundering and bagging clothes is standard, but I still can’t get over the destroying of furniture.

    You should probably do your best to prepare (vacuum and create space for the PCO to work) and make sure the second visit happens asap and the whole apartment is treated.

    13 bedbugeeinCT September 7, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Thank you both so much! I’m reluctant to tell anyone in my world about all this, it’s SO reassuring to finally feel I’m not alone in all this!

    My former apartment was a 2 bedroom, and this is a small (20′ x 14′) studio, so I DO have a lot of stuff. And I completely understand that the best chance of effectiveness lies in performing all of the preliminary work.

    My newest questions:

    1. Shoes: The PCO said to examine my shoes carefully and vacuum them thoroughly, but I can’t see into the toes (where I’d think they’d most likely be) and I only have an upright vacuum, no attachments. Today is sunny and expected to be in the mid-80’s. If I bag all my shoes in black trashbags and leave them on a black pavement in full sun, how long should I leave them there before I can be confident any stowaways are cooked?

    2. Video/DVD/books/magazine collection: Is there ANYTHING I can do to save them? Thankfully, it’s not an extensive video/DVD collection, but the books and magazines are mostly professional journals and references that I use on a regular basis. It would be extremely difficult (not to mention expensive) to replace them. Should I try the black bag/pavement/sun treatment? Someone suggested ‘baking’ them in my (tiny) oven at 200*F for 4 hours. Is that more feasible?

    3. Electronics: I asked the PCO about treating my computer, tv/dvd/video player/stereo equipment, but he just shrugged and mumbled. What should I be watching for in regards to them, when he comes to treat next time? Is there anything I can say, or do myself?

    4. The PCO said I wouldn’t have to empty kitchen cabinets, as they’ve never found evidence in any kitchen. Considering that the infested recliner sits about 6 feet from the sink (it’s a studio, after all), should I trust that?

    14 nobugsonme September 7, 2007 at 11:30 am

    To be honest, I would simply do what he told you to (as well as washing and drying and bagging clothes as per our FAQs). You need to get proper treatment right away. If he is using the proper materials to treat you, bed bugs should come out of those places if they’re there, (trying to bite you), encounter poisons, and die.

    There are different theories on dealing with stuff (shoes, books, electronics, etc). Read the FAQs for more.

    He will need to retreat in 10-14 days. And repeat that until they’re gone. I would say that the norm is more like 3-5 treatments.

    You should be aware that some landlords have used tenants not being ready for bed bug treatment as a cause for eviction. It was legal, but sinister: your landlord did not allow enough time and such a move would probably not hold up in court in such circumstances. But I hope your neighbors get with it, and prep. Because if they have bed bugs, so will you.

    If you have more questions, feel free to post in the forum, since this is kind of off topic of the FAQ now. :-)

    15 nobugsonme November 16, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Updated to add Baltimore. Thanks to buggedoutinbaltimore for the info.


    Baltimore, MD

    The law appears to be that landlords are responsible for eliminating pests only if they occur in more than one unit. Peoples-law.org says:

    Rat proofing and pest extermination

    Where infestation occurs in the shared or public areas or in 2 or more dwelling units in a building, the owner is responsible for extermination of rats, insects, or other pests.

    All dwellings and dwelling units must be rat-proofed and kept in a rat-proof condition by the owner. Rat proofing includes but is not limited to: 1) using rat impervious material to block all passages by which rats could enter from outside; and 2) paving basements, cellars, and other areas in contact with the earth; eliminating rat breeding places by keeping areas clean; removing rats’ nests, etc.

    A landlord with any sense would pay to have bed bugs removed from one unit, rather than waiting until they spread to multiple units. And I would, if I were a tenant in Baltimore with bed bugs, try and negotiate politely with the landlord on that basis.

    See the source of the Baltimore information cited above here.

    16 badlybugged December 29, 2007 at 1:03 am

    I suggest that renters search and print out the articles (quite a few) that report that municipalities are holding landlords responsible for bb infestation. Send them by cert. mail/return receipt requested to the Property Manager on site and the main office (you might also send a copy to the city department in charge of inspections; here it was Jefferson Parish Building and Safety Code Enforcement). I broke my lease based on guarantee of habitability — it seems to be a very strong argument. I live in Louisiana, USA and found the applicable statue for the Parish in which I lived while renting and quoted the exact wording to the landlady in the letter I sent to her. Another thing that might help is if you talk to the neighbors to find out if they’ve had any problems, if they have — when did the problem start?
    Jefferson Parish, LA code:
    Louisiana Civil Code: Art. 2696. Warranty against vices or defects
    The lessor warrants the lessee that the thing is suitable for the purpose for which it was leased and that it is free of vices or defects that prevent its use for that purpose.
    This warranty also extends to vices or defects that arise after the delivery of the thing and are not attributable to the fault of the lessee.
    Acts 2004, No. 821, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2005.
    **and**
    Louisiana Civil Code: Art. 2682. The lessor’s principal obligations
    The lessor is bound:
    (1) To deliver the thing to the lessee;
    (2) To maintain the thing in a condition suitable for the purpose of which it was leased; and
    (3) To protect the lessee’s peaceful possession for the duration of the lease.
    Acts 2004, No. 821, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2005.

    17 h_damle February 1, 2008 at 12:56 am

    I am from Minnesota state.
    We faced the similar bed bug problem. We asked them to take care of it. Later we came to know our neighbors also had the same problem. We told apartment management that they also need to share the expenses, as its because of their lack of maintenance. They also said that apartments old and were built in 70’s.

    Next, my friends’ apartment also faced the same issue. They happened to stay in the same complex. Now I sincerely feeel that it’s the poor apartment maintenance which is causing this problem and our apartment management should take some responsibility for this. Also, they cannot insist upon using a particular pest service, if its not cost-effective – please advise us.

    18 nobugsonme February 1, 2008 at 1:22 am

    Hello, h_damle,

    I apologize that our information is so incomplete as yet. We do not have anything on Minnesota law. We also aren’t lawyers and can’t give legal advice.

    However, here is a resource:

    You need to call or visit HOME Line and find out your rights: are you liable to pay for bed bug eradication, or is the landlord? If you are, and you want to fight this, because you feel management is to blame, HOME Line may be able to suggest where you can get free or low cost legal advice. Good luck and let us know what happens!

    HOME Line is a nonprofit statewide Minnesota tenant advocacy organization.

    HOME Line provides free legal, organizing, education and advocacy services so that tenants throughout Minnesota can solve their own rental housing problems. We work to improve public and private policies relating to rental housing by involving affected tenants in the process.

    If you are a tenant in Minnesota (outside of Minneapolis) and you are interested in your renter rights, you can reach our Tenant Advocates for legal advice at:

    (612) 728-5767

    …or call us toll-free from Greater MN at:

    (866) 866-3546

    Our fax number is: 612-728-5761

    We are located at:

    3455 Bloomington Avenue

    Minneapolis, MN 55407

    19 nobugsonme February 27, 2008 at 12:57 am

    Tentative information on Rhode Island added.

    20 frustratedsleeper March 22, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    i’m the landlord of a six family unit in nyc. tenants on the top floor and the first floor have recently reported a pest problem. further investigation has confirmed it to be bed bugs. we have realized that the source may be the apartment on the second floor, they having thrown out beds, sofas and furniture about 9 months ago with unsightly black spots on them. stupidly i didn’t realize that the nasty critters that i squished coming back into the building were bedbugs. now i have to get a pco to treat the entire building.
    the problem is that the tenant on the second floor is a 90 y.old women and her late 50s y.old son and daughter. they refuse to admit that they have an issue and have refused to let us inspect and treat their apartment. how anyone suffering from bedbugs would do such a thing is mindboggling. is there any legal action that i can take so that i can enter their apartment for treatment? i understand that if we do not treat the entire building it might as well be useless because the apartments will get infested by the alpha apartment again. what can i do about the other apartments that would allow treatment? is there anything that i can tell the other tenants to do in the mean time? and can anyone recommend a reliable and knowledgeable pco in brooklyn, ny area?

    21 nobugsonme March 23, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Hi frustrated,
    We can’t recommend a specific PCO, though if you go to the forums you will find some people discussing them there. (Forums button top right above.)
    We also can’t recommend lawyers or give legal advice. I would assume that there are already laws in place which allow landlords to treat for pests even if tenants don’t want to cooperate. I always assumed landlords had the right to enter the home if necessary.
    However, it’s important not just to get in there and spray; you need the tenants in the second floor unit to cooperate with prep for treatment, doing laundry a certain way, etc. They may need to learn more about bed bugs, since most people don’t know anything about them. They would probably find cooperating with treatment much preferable to having the landlord attempt to evict them.
    Good luck with that and let us know how it goes.

    22 mangycur May 5, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    the Sec. 27-2017 Definitions say the landlord has to get rid of them, but it doesn’t say he can’t try to do it himself. We have all be operating under the assumption that it is illegal for LLs to try to treat the problem with OTC Raid. But has anyone seen a law specifically stating as such?

    23 persona-non-bugga May 5, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    To frustratedsleeper:

    Consult with an attorney, but there’s a longstanding common law tradition that landlords may enter rented premises without tenant’s express permission in order to make necessary repairs so long as the tenant is given notice beforehand.

    This might be a way for you to compel treatment.

    Here’s an excerpt from NY State Atty Gen’s Tenants’ Rights Guide, describing this:

    ——————————

    RIGHT TO PRIVACY

    Tenants have the right to privacy within their apartments. A landlord, however, may enter a tenant’s apartment with reasonable prior notice, and at a reasonable time: (a) to provide necessary or agreed upon repairs or services; or (b) in accordance with the lease; or (c) to show the apartment to prospective purchasers or tenants. In emergencies, such as fires, the landlord may enter the apartment without the tenant’s consent. A landlord may not abuse this limited right of entry or use it to harass a tenant. A landlord may not interfere with the installation of cable televison facilities. (Public Service Law §228) .

    http://www.housingnyc.com/html/resources/attygenguide.html#25

    ———————————-

    24 nobugsonme May 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Mangy,

    I contacted a knowledgeable local PCO who said that according to NYSDEC rules, landlords could not treat tenants’ apartments unless they were certified applicators. (It is of course legal for tenants to treat their own units.) He goes on:

    “Some supers may be certified applicators but very few and even then they must abide by regulations, business registration and record keeping.

    A landlord may purchase non restricted materials and give them to tenants to treat their own apartments.”

    But we hope they don’t.

    Since landlords are required (in most NYC renting situations) to eliminate a pest problem, not simply to try, then having the tenant self-treat with the landlord’s stuff, or hiring a bad PCO (for that matter) will eventually probably not satisfy the law. Unfortunately, this can mean suffering is drawn out. From a bottom-line standpoint alone, it’s bad business, since other tenants are likely to get the problem too if they haven’t yet.

    25 nobugsonme May 22, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Add to above:

    Portland, Maine landlords should treat for bed bugs. If not, call the city inspections dept.

    Information from this article about bed bugs in Portland, Maine, which says of Greater Portland,

    “In the last three or four years, it’s definitely been on the increase,” says Jeanie Bourke, the city’s inspections director. “When I started in 1999, we didn’t have any.”

    If apartment renters find themselves assaulted by bed bugs and can’t get their landlord to respond, Bourke’s office fields the complaints. Her team of inspectors then makes sure the landlord hires a pesticide company to spray the place down and that the residents follow a tightly regimented routine requiring the washing of everything and the sealing of clothes and mattresses in plastic.

    26 LADYCIE June 3, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I LIVE IN A SHELTER AND I HAVE BEEN BITTEN BY BED BUGS MY HANDS ARE STARTING TO SWELL UP AND I KEEP ON TEELIN MY CASE MANGER IN THE BUILDIN AND THEY SEEM TO DO NOTHING ABOUT THE MATTER CAN I SUE

    27 nobugsonme June 3, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Ladycie,

    I am not a lawyer and can’t tell you if you can sue. You’d have to talk to a lawyer about that.

    However, one positive step you might take to improve the situation would be to talk to more people about this. Do other residents of the shelter have bites? Has anyone seen bed bugs? The more people who talk about this to the management, the better. Good luck!

    28 Cody June 3, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    You can add Australia:

    Tenants in Australia are covered by the Residential Tenancies Act 1987 (which has slightly different versions for each state, though are mostly the same). For Western Australia section 42 states the owner:

    (a) shall provide the premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness;
    (b) shall provide and maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair having regard to their age, character and prospective life; and
    (c) shall comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health and safety under any other written law in so far as they apply to the premises.

    It doesn’t specifically mention bed bugs or other pests, and I haven’t found any state health and safety legislation for buildings yet, but owners have been prosecuted for bed bugs using this legislation, see: Chessels v Wood (Residential Tenancy) [2004] NSWCTTT 306 (8 June 2004).

    In these cases the owner is always responsible, not the real estate agent or a head-tenant or anyone else. It’s the owner that you must take to magistrate’s court.

    The main caveat is that not everyone will be considered a tenant – specifically borders and lodgers are excluded. A court can also deem this law will or will not apply to you using Section 84.

    If you’re not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act, you may be able to use another law to pursue a case. Likely candidates are the Fair Trading Act for misrepresentation of goods and services, or (long shot) battery and/or negligence laws – this hasn’t been researched.

    29 nobugsonme June 3, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Australia included above. Thanks Cody!

    30 Nat July 24, 2008 at 8:54 am

    I have bed bugs! About 6 months ago my boyfriend moved into a new complex and I moved in with him. I started getting bit but didnt know what it was, because I was also getting hives ( i have very hypoallergnic skin ) i kept thinking it was something I was eating or just allergies, we then moved to a new apt in the same complex and its gotten worse! I wake up itchy in the middle of the night and by morning I have welts! On the ways I sleep on the couch ( which now I see is a bad thing) i dont get bit up as much, although now that I’m starting to sleep on the couch I’m afraid I’ve made a bad problem worse. We were going to shop for a new bed this weekend but after finding out more I’m afraid of bringing anything in here that will get infested.. I’m so frustrated and itchy!!! Should I wait on buying a new bed???

    31 nobugsonme July 24, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Nat,

    Please spend some time reading the other FAQS. There is a lot of discussion over what to do and what not to do.

    Start with this one (Dos and Don’ts). Then read the Bed FAQs.

    Then read the others here as you need them.

    You probably should not buy a new bed yet, but I won’t go into all the details about why since this is covered in the FAQs.

    32 karmac99 August 2, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Does anyone know what the legal responsibility the landlord has to inform residents that there is a problem in the building?
    I live in a 14 unit apartment and recently discovered I have bedbugs. 2 weeks later I found out the landlord knew and did not inform anyone! I would have taken precautionary steps and would not have gone through thinking I had a food allergy had I known!
    I also wouldn’t have brought up a piece of furniture a tenant moving out placed out back – thats likely how I ended up with this problem.
    Do I have a right not to pay some rent???

    33 nobugsonme August 2, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    karmac99,

    First, wherever you are, I would not withold rent unless directed to do so by a lawyer or judge. You need proper legal advice before taking such a step. It can be grounds for eviction. No one can give you legal advice via a website like this.

    You can enquire with a local tenants’ advice organization about your rights and your landlord’s responsibilities.

    Also regarding the landlord’s responsibility to disclose a pest infestation in another unit: you need to find out the laws where you are, but I’d suspect he’s probably within his rights in not telling you, unfortunately.

    It should be the law, in my opinion, that tenants are notified of the problem in the building, educated about bed bug signs, and given a careful professional inspection of their homes, and treatment if necessary, in these circumstances.

    On the other hand, if the landlord knew there were bed bugs in your unit and did not disclose this, you might have grounds for a lawsuit. (Again, you’d need to talk to a lawyer.)

    34 Erin August 16, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Does anyone have any information on California landlord-tenant law that is applicable to the bedbug issue? Our apartment recently became infested and our landlord wants nothing to do with it. Won’t even listen to our complaints. I have been itching for weeks (by the way, does prolonged redness, itching and swelling suggest an ALLERGY to bedbug bites?) and I am furious.

    Thanks for any advice you may have.

    35 nobugsonme August 16, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Erin,

    The laws may be peculiar to your city, county, or may be state-wide. I suggest calling a tenants’ advice organization in your city as they are good sources of information on local laws.

    And please let us know what you find out (preferably with a link to a source) so we can add it to the FAQ.

    36 nobugsonme August 20, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    added links above to Consumerist’s links to landlord tenant law in every US state:

    http://consumerist.com/consumer/renting/landlord+tenant-law-for-every-state-329945.php

    37 nobugsonme September 10, 2008 at 2:14 am

    added Stamford, CT (woo-hoo!)

    Alphabetized USA information by city or state.

    38 nobugsonme September 20, 2008 at 1:06 am

    Updated to include info from the Chicago Dept of Public Health on bed bugs:

    What should tenants do?

    If you are a tenant, contact your property manager or landlord to discuss your respective obligations and come to an agreement on a plan to manage the infestation. If there is an infestation , landlords should contract with a licensed pest control operator to manage the problem

    Request a written integrated pest management (IPM) plan from the pest control operator. The plan will include the methods and insecticides to be used, and describe the efforts expected by the building manager as well as by the tenants.

    39 tirednangry September 22, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Hi everyone,

    I’m new to the whole bedbug phenomenon. I recently moved to St. Louis Missouri (I’ve never had previous trouble in Boston/Seattle), but last week caught a bug feeding on me while I sat on the couch. I trapped it and contacted my landlord (I rent from a large University contract housing corp.). They sent a PCO who did a half-ass job in spraying here and there, and did not tell me to do anything else. Just monitor the situation.

    Well, I got another bite. Went to talk to the landlord and was told that it was my responsibility to pay as that was their ‘policy’ and ‘i had brought it in’. News to me. Also, not verifiable. I complained, and now they are grudgingly going to address my issue. BUT . . . The policy is, of course, nonesense as it ties eradication of the bedbugs to the financial fitness of the tenant all based on a tenuous claim of responsibility.

    I would love to know if anyone has information or where to find it about Missouri / St. Louis tenant responsibility in this kind of situation. Or does anybody know of a good housing advocacy group in the St. Louis area??

    Thanks.

    40 Desiree October 26, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    My reply isn’t very timely, but I’ll put this out there in case someone else needs to know. I’m in Southern California and had consulted an attorney who specializes in tenants’ rights when my landlord started playing the blame game (even though several units had been affected).

    The attorney told me that the landlord is responsible for treating (and paying for treatment) of the unit(s). Also, your place of residence has to be “habitable” and free of vermin. While you may not be able to get any expenses reimbursed you may be able to get back rent; however I do not suggest withholding rent unless you have an attorney who instructs you to do so.

    Finally, if you call the Health Department it will send an inspector out to inspect the unit(s) and compel the landlord to treat (including follow-up treatments). We are currently going through this in three separate structures managed by the same property management company. It looks like they are now going to use Vikane gas b/c a few of us are using every legal means we have to get this taken care of. I’m not sure how this would have played out for me had other units not been affected. It was nice to know I wasn’t going through this alone as the tenants banded together.

    Fair Housing is also useful to talk to. This agency will tell you what you can do legally.

    Good luck!

    41 nobugsonme October 26, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Thanks, Desiree!

    42 bugged by the law November 7, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Sadly, I can confirm the Rhode Island information. The relevant law is at http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE45/45-24.3/45-24.3-6.HTM (paragraph i).

    This seems like a foolish/unfair law to me because, especially in the case of bedbugs, it’s very difficult to know if they are only in your unit or elsewhere. And also because they eventually *will* be elsewhere if the tenant doesn’t take responsibility, and in the end no one will be able to tell where they came from anyway. But, like it or not, that does seem to be the law for now.

    43 nobugsonme November 8, 2008 at 2:36 am

    bugged by the law,

    In some areas, politicians are trying to change laws in order to fight bed bugs. This RI policy is a very bad one, because it encourages people to not report bed bugs until their neighbors are also infested. Very bad.

    I would encourage you and everyone in RI to write to politicians and encourage them to change this.

    Social service agencies which help poor and elderly people may be good advocates in such a fight, since they are probably seeing a lot of people living with bed bugs because they can’t personally pay to treat them.

    44 crystal November 27, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Please add Detroit, MI to your list.

    45 nobugsonme December 1, 2008 at 2:36 am

    crystal,

    We do not currently have info on Detroit. We’d be happy to add it if you can send us a link.

    46 nobugsonme December 1, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Minnesota added.

    According to Kelly Klein’s Renting and the Law column in the Star-Tribune, if you are a tenant with bed bugs,

    You have the right to demand that your landlord take action to resolve the issue. Under Minnesota law, the landlord has to remedy such problems.

    What’s more, Klen says you may have a right to a rent escrow action if the problem is not remedied in 14 days. Please read her column on this, and contact local tenants’ advice organizations or a lawyer or legal aid service if you need help; we are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice.

    47 robin December 3, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    i live in an apt. complex and weve seen a few roaches that weve sprayed for now my manager says were roach infested which were not and i have emphesema badly and gave her a drs.note stateing the spray hurts my disease and not to spray now were being threatened of eviction can she do this legally

    48 nobugsonme December 3, 2008 at 5:29 pm

    Hi robin,

    I am sorry I cannot answer those questions. I would advise getting in touch with a tenants’ rights organization, which are available in many cities and counties. If you tell us where you are, we may know the name of one. But you can also google “tenants advice” or “tenants organization” and the name of your city or county.

    A lawyer would be another option. Free legal aid is a possibility (we have a FAQ on that or you can consult a phone book or google).

    49 Gavin February 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Dear buggedbadger,

    Do you understand wisconsin state law concerning who is to pay for treatment?

    Thanks.

    50 Dillon March 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Dear buggedbadger,

    I live in Boston area, more precisely in Malden.
    I found out my apartment has bed bugs and rash skin problem has bothered me for weeks now. I’m alergic to bed bug bites, one bite will cause many bums and itch for at least a week. I am so desperated right now. Do you have any company or Association in you mind that can kill the bed bugs right away for me? I just want to get rid of the bugs and I don’t care about who’s going to pay for it. I am so scared to go home and I am going to get a sleeping bag and sleep in my company today. Help! Everyone!

    Dillon

    51 nobugsonme March 28, 2009 at 4:06 am

    Hi Dillon,

    Please come to the forums and ask for a recommendation there from others present.

    http://bedbugger.com/forum/

    52 Venkat March 30, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    We had an issue with Bedbugs in my Bedroom. Due to this reason my wife suffered a lot with itching and we went for medication for couple of times. We went through couple of blood tests and that cost me hundreds of dollars but, even the famous doctors unable to find out the solution with blood reports and we have used different kind of prescriptions from couple of specialist doctors. Even after going through the medication she was feeling like itchy.

    Two weeks back we found that there were some bedbugs on the bed and they were the main reason for the diseases. Immediately we reported to the community and they responded and have applied Pro pest Control Extermination on March 12th, 2009.

    We had put the existing mattress in trash and ordered for new one.

    Two days back we have received an invoice saying that I have to pay for the applied extermination charges $290.00. And says there will be 2 more exterminations and I am responsible for the total cost. Instead they supposed to pay me the incurred charges for the mattress and the medical expenses.

    They says the reason I am responsible for this because one of my family member brought bedbugs from my home country or one of the guest who visited my apartment brought with them.

    It sounds like either we should not allow guests inside the apartment or we need to have had a Bedbug detector to find out the person who brought the bedbugs into the apartment which doesn’t exist in the world?

    The management should provide the safety and security for all tenants. If we are facing like these issues how do we feel comfortable by staying in the apartment?

    Please advice do i need to pay the charges?

    53 megGY April 13, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    we got bed bugs and i have a 2 year old that is contantly getting bit i have another baby thATs gonna be here in june any advice?

    54 nobugsonme April 14, 2009 at 2:08 am

    megGY,

    You need treatment from a professional who is aware of the precautions to use in the presence of a toddler and a pregnant woman.

    There are safe treatment methods which can be used.

    If you live in an apartment, depending where you live, landlords may be liable for treatment.

    Please see the FAQ above and other FAQs, and come to the forums if you have more questions.

    ————–

    Venkat,

    I am so sorry I missed your comment and I hope you see this.

    I do not know where you live, but whether landlords have to pay for pest treatment varies according to location.

    In addition, I am not aware of local laws, obviously, but I would be surprised if the laws said the landlord had to pay to replace mattress and medical bills.

    You need to seek local advice from a tenants’ advice organization. There are some listed in our LINKS. Please come to the forums if you need more advice.

    55 alwayswandering May 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Anyone have any idea on who’s legally responsible to pay, the landlord or the renter, in a multi-unit apartment building in Philadelphia? Every other major US city seemed to be covered except mine. …Clueless here. Please help!

    56 nobugsonme May 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    alwayswondering,

    The information above is contributed by readers or is what I come across in my readings. I’d love to add local information for Philadelphia, but don’t have it.

    Please contact a local tenants’ organization (google should help) or ask a reference desk librarian in a public library to help you find out your rights regarding elimination of pests in a rental unit. And please share what you find, so we can help others.

    57 bitallover May 12, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    any one know about airzona?

    58 amysee May 28, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    In Seattle:
    – The landlord is obligated to control insects, rodents and other pests

    In Washington State:
    -The landlord is obligated to control pests before the tenant moves in. The landlord must continue to control infestations except in single family dwellings, or when the infestation was caused by the tenant

    Both clauses from here: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cms/groups/pan/@pan/@publication/documents/web_informational/dpdp_018328.pdf

    In theory, the Seattle law trumps the state law if it is stronger, which one could argue it is; though it seems unfortunately vague.

    My property manager (who told me treatment isn’t necessary and all I have to do is bag my mattress, hahahahahahahahaha does he want a building-wide infestation?) refuses to pay for a PCO as he believes the infestation was caused by me. I’ve contacted a friend at the local tenants’ rights organization and will work with them to resolve this in a way that’s a little more equitable. We shall see.

    In any case, there is widespread ignorance about bed bugs in Seattle. But no shortage of bed bugs. I’ll update if I learn anything more helpful than what I’ve posted so far.

    59 nobugsonme May 31, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Thanks! Added it to the FAQ. Much appreciated! And good luck with your situation there.

    60 Jen July 28, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Anybody have any info on Vermont? Any good lawyers to recommend? How can I disprove the landlord’s theory that I have brought bed bugs into my apartment if the exterminator only inspects the adjoining apartments during the day when bed bugs hide? He didn’t find anything in my apartment either, but at 1am with the lights on watching my sleeping child as human bait, I found one. What now?

    61 Miserable September 18, 2009 at 7:19 am

    What about arizona?
    do you have any information on Az?

    i live in an apt

    62 nobugsonme September 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Miserable,

    All the information we have is above.

    The most important thing is to find out laws applying to your rental situation in your state. Please read my suggestions to robert who asks about laws in Dallas here.

    Jen,

    Have you looked into the local laws pertaining to rental units and pests? If not, please follow the link I just provided, and find out your local laws.

    In some places, landlords are liable for treatment regardless of who caused the problem. In other places tenants are. It is sometimes also true that the person who is thought to cause the situation is responsible (as is the case in several parts of Canada) but there are also sometimes exceptions. So the most important thing is to find out your local laws.

    At that point, you might look into a lawyer if the situation is murky or if it looks like you need to dispute responsibility for the infestation.

    63 betsy segui October 26, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Hello,
    I live in New Haven , Ct. I recently discovered that I have bed bugs. I have told my landlord who immediatly hired an exterminator. The problem is that she is now charging me $450.00 for the first two visits and $80.00 additional a month for the the exterminator fees. She also sais that it will take at least 5 months for the appartment to be fully free of the bugs. I am a single mother of twowith a very low income and I can not afford these fees. What can I do? Ia i responsible?

    64 nobugsonme October 26, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    HI betsy,

    I do not know who — landlord or tenant — is responsible for bed bug treatment in New Haven. You need advice on the local housing code.

    I looked at the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut (LARCC) website. They have a list of tenants’ rights and responsibilities, but nothing specific about pests.

    That page led me to the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, which says of “Our Services,”

    We provide advice, brief service, community education, policy advocacy and representation in the following areas, as well as others not listed.

    . . . .

    HOUSING

    Evictions, Landlord/Tenant Disputes, Conditions/Repairs, Lockouts, Rent Increases, Homelessness Issues, Subsidized Housing Issues, Discrimination.

    My sense is that they may be able to advise you as to whether pest control falls under the “conditions/repairs” landlords are required to provide, in New Haven, and if so, how to get this enforced.

    New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc.
    426 State Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06510-2018
    Phone: 203.946.4811 Fax: 203.498.9271

    (There’s an email on the website I linked to above.)

    If you want to check on the housing code for New Haven, first, you could go into the main city/county library and ask at the Reference desk for someone to help you find out if tenants have to pay for pest treatment. Library reference desks exist to help with questions like that!

    If it is the law that landlords pay for pest treatment, they may also be able to help you find out who to call to enforce it.

    Please let us know what you find out, and good luck!

    65 nobugsonme January 24, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Improved navigation added today! Also cleaned up some entries, added suggestions for New Haven, links to SFDOPH PDFs for tenants and landlords, and phone number for reporting bed bugs in SF.

    Please keep suggestions coming here or via the contact form!

    66 Need Help!!! March 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Does anyone out there have any information on the Los Angeles area?

    67 nobugsonme March 31, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Need Help,

    Here are some threads in the forums tagged “LA”.

    I suggest posting your specific questions in the forums, where you will get more responses.

    68 anne June 7, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    I’m a single mother of 4 children and i moved in to this apt. 2 years ago.Well this apt. had bed bugs infesting in the walls when i moved into the apt. i never knew that we had bed bugs until last month when they started crawling out of the walls and cilings and now they r into all my stuff. I bought everything brand new when i moved in. My children and I have bits all over us. My oldest boy and youngest boy have eczema an itchy skin condition just like bed bugs bites they are itchy too. I have peeled paint off the walls and the paint had bed bugs on the other side. The side I peeled off the wall. I’v been living out of trash bags for almost 3 weeks. They r still spraying and still crawling. What can i do? How long does it take to kill all the bugs? The apartment management said if they r still here after 90 days they will ask my family and I to move out. Can they kick me out? How or who can give me advice?

    69 nobugsonme June 8, 2010 at 1:10 am

    Hi anne,

    You need to find out about the local laws which apply to your rental situation. You need to know (a) whether landlords are responsible for treating for bed bugs in an apartment situation like yours, and if so, how to get this law enforced, or (b) if not, whether the landlord can indeed kick you out for living in an apartment with bed bugs.

    I do not know where you live. Many cities and/or counties have organizations which give tenants free advice on their rights. You might find one by googling “tenants organization” and the name of your city or county.

    Library reference desks should also be able to help you with the local laws which apply to pests in rental situations.

    In some cities/counties there is a housing code enforcement dept., and in others the board of health intervenes. Calling one of those agencies may help you find out your rights.

    If you come to the forums, we may be able to offer you more support, especially if you’re willing to say where you live.

    Comments on this entry are closed.

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