Renting house with bedbugs(5 posts)
I live in Virginia in the Hampton roads area and I was wondering about renting a house that has bedbugs. If I brought the bedbugs to the house is the renter not responsible for the treatment? What if you have lived at the residence for a period of time without reporting bedbugs?
Basically what I'm asking if you would still be responsible for treatment if you may have brought bedbugs.
Best advice is to talk to an attorney in your area. The local bar can point you to resources available to you if you can't afford to meet with one.
Generally speaking, the law is built around reasonability. If you are a LL who knowingly rents an infested property and it can be proven, it's reasonable that you would understand the possiblity of spreading your infestatation. You could possibly be on the hook for treatment of the building, your tenants' property and any subsequent properties they might infest. (Say they move to escape the problem.) The same goes for a renter who leaves without reporting. It's reasonbale that your LL would seek a new tenant and subsequently that tenant would become infested. The specifics of who, what, how, why vary jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it's best to discuss your question in specific detail with a legal professional.
As a renter, you also should consider contacting whatever your local tenants rights organization is.
I can't tell you what it is called where you live because experience suggests that they are called something different sometimes city by city. But look online with the name of your state and tenants rights first and see if you can find a non-profit that advocates for tenants.
They generally know the local laws regarding bed bugs (which tend to be city laws, not statewide); they may even be able to direct you to a lawyer if a lawyer needs to get involved. Sometimes just talking to the local tenants rights organization is all you need.
If you cannot get in touch with a tenants rights organization, you also might consider contacting the health department.
Those are two alternatives to contacting a lawyer, which wouldn't be my first step. Either of the ones I suggest don't generally charge up front and might be able to direct you to lawyers who specialize in the kinds of cases you might be involved in should things escalate to a level at which a lawyer is required.
I'm sorry I thought that the OP had said somewhere that she owned the home she was in. If you're a renter, than of course, do check with tenant rights' organizations as well.
However, I wish people were not so hesitant to contact attorneys. In my experience, the best legal advice I got during my infestation was from attorneys. The local tenants' right organization in NYC would only tell me the law and the process of it. They pretty much said you need to go to court. The process is 8 months and then they'll order your LL to treat the building, I knew that I couldn't do that. To understand how those laws applied in my situation, and what steps I could take to protect myself from liability regarding rent, I needed an attorney. In NYC, the local city bar association provides free phone advice to people at a certain salary or below. That advice helped my negotiate a termination of lease and my new lease at the apartment I moved to.
Each city is different. It sounds like some tenant rights' organizations provide more advice than they did in my case; not every bar has the same service either. I think it's an option worth exploring when you're trying to handle a situation like this. More resources, not less.
This is what happens when I post before I eat breakfast. (Remember, I'm on the west coast, so it's still very early for me.)
I think what I was trying to respond to--and not doing a very good or very explicit job of--is this:
I think people who've never contacted a lawyer--esp. those who are kind of overwhelmed and panicky about bed bugs in general--might feel overwhelmed by the process of contacting a lawyer. Like, you know, where to start--how to find one who specializes in your particular problem.
It sounds like you already know how to do that. I have to admit that I don't. If I needed a lawyer, I'd probably call my aunt who is one and see if she knows anyone or any resources in my state. Or I'd ask my friends. But the chances that they had a lawyer who specialized in what I need might not be very good.
And I think people who haven't contacted a lawyer before are going to be worried about how much a lawyer's fee would be.
That said, if I knew I was in the legal right, and I needed a lawyer, I'd definitely go look for one. But I also think you're right that it varies a lot from place to place.
Maybe you'd consider writing up an FAQ draft on what people who haven't contacted a lawyer before ought to know about doing so? That might get a lot of people past their anxieties about it.
At any rate, the reason I offered other options to DreDay 17 was that I didn't want him or her to feel like a lawyer was on the only option in case that poster had the same anxieties and/or misconceptions that I suspect a lot of people have. And I clearly have to count myself in that number.
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