Cincinnati officially classes bed bugs as “vermin”

by nobugsonme on February 1, 2008 · 18 comments

in bed bugs, cincinnati

Oh, ignorance most surely is bliss!

To think that someone, somewhere, had to be convinced that bed bugs are indeed vermin.

Reader, I envy those people.

I am treading the dangerous space of quoting too much from an article, to make sure this information is preserved for posterity.  The Enquirer, reports:

By adding them to Cincinnati Municipal Code Section 1601-17, bedbugs are among the critters the city ordinance requires owners and occupants of buildings to control.

Council also voted Wednesday to ask the Cincinnati Board of Health to change all its regulations regarding vermin infestations.

Until council added bedbugs, it was illegal in Cincinnati to permit an infestation of “rodents, fleas, lice, roaches, weevils” and unspecified “other vermin.”

Harboring a vermin infestation is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.

But in saying that “owners and occupants” must eliminate bed bugs or face a fine or jail time, can someone tell us if tenants = “occupants”?

In other words, are landlords liable for eliminating tenants’ bed bugs in Cincinnati?

In still other words, what happens when people can’t afford proper treatment to eliminate bed bugs? Will there be any assistance for them?

Bottom line: is this ruling going to mean fewer people suffer from bed bugs, or that more people face fines and jail time?

1 bugbasher February 5, 2008 at 8:28 am

I’m hoping the goverment of Cincinnati is only trying to give LL and other tenants a tool to make people comply with inspection,eradication of these bugs.We have all heard the horror stories of the tenants that refuse to allow an inspection,prolonging every other tenant in the buildings nightmare of BB’s. I sincerely hope they wouldn’t jail a tenant who couldn’t afford to pay a proffessional themselves. Let’s face it,they probably have enough BB’s in the jails already.On the other hand ,the LL’s who refuse to treat,should face jail time.Another bedbugger said house arrest in their own BB infested building would do the trick and I agree! Why spend tax dollars on them,just force them to live in their own BB infested apts. with no treatment allowed until they treat the whole building.

2 nobugsonme February 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm


The ruling and fine probably will serve as a helpful tool as you note.

Landlords who refuse to treat could probably use some face to face bed bug time.

But let’s remember that in many cases, tenants and landlords are stonewalled by a single tenant who refuses treatment or does not comply with preparations (thereby more or less refusing _effective_ treatment). One such case, at least, is being discussed on the forums at this time. And while landlords can usually legally enter an apartment, they cannot make someone prep, properly, for treatment. It’s not always as simple as the landlord = the bad guy, and I hope the law also helps in situations where a tenant is prolonging the problem for others.

In such cases, with more adequate public education added to the mix, such a resistant tenant might not even exist.

3 hopelessnomo February 6, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Isn’t it possible that if they are going to ask the Board of Health to change regulations regarding vermin infestations that they are thinking in terms of making bedbug infestations reportable? Something that would do a great deal for control efforts.

Cities have to track the incidence of cases so that they can think of ways to identify vectors and throw resources at controlling sites of primary infestation.

4 nobugsonme February 7, 2008 at 1:05 am


That is an excellent point. I think that the government tracking infestations is a really good idea.

I also wonder what kind of timeline they are giving as far as “fixing” a situation. NYC’s HPD gives, I think, 30 days. And it can take longer if it is a bad case, even if they are trying.

5 hopelessnomo February 7, 2008 at 1:58 am


So… Nobugs, you think tracking infestations is a good idea then?

Seriously, I find it interesting that in the other towns in Hamilton County, the health department outright wants people to call them when they have an infestation for help in dealing with the landlord.

We never hear from anyone there who is going through the process with the city or county. Will be interesting to get the perspective of a tenant.

6 nobugsonme February 7, 2008 at 2:55 am

Have I mentioned that before?

i am going to have to retire soon, because now i just keep repeating the same things over and over. 🙂

7 hopelessnomo February 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Cincinnati ROCKS!

Check out this report from the Cincinnati Department of Health filed with the City Council this week. (Click on Get Documents in the upper right corner to download the 5-page PDF — document number 200800142 — that includes a map of 2007-2008 complaints and outlines their efforts and future plans.)

Yes, tracking and reporting are goals.

Please, I entreat you to repeat yourself more often, Nobugs.

Via The Daily Bellwether.

8 nobugsonme February 8, 2008 at 11:18 am

Okay. I will stick around and keep pressing “play.”

Everyone must go to the link hopelessnomo provides and search for the document number. It takes only a minute and it is truly astonishing.

It shouldn’t be– it should be obvious that the kinds of things we’ve been calling for (based on research and knowledge we’ve gained) are going to be the kinds of solutions government officials working with an entomologist who knows bed bugs will come up with. In this case, the ento is the wonderful Susan Jones of OSU, and Cincinnati appears to be listening, and doing. Wonderful reading.

9 entoman February 9, 2008 at 11:46 am

Yesterday, the joint Bed Bug Task Force (Cincinnati and Hamilton County) met. The task force consisits of 6 bureaucrats from the health departments and Susan Jones from OSU.
First, the city has hurt the community more now with classifying bed bugs as vermin. Landlords, for the most part, have been doing their job (in Ohio you must hire a licensed pest control operator for more than 4 units). The problem has been cooperation from tenants. As a landlord, this law should give me the oppurtunity to evict a tenant immediately for non compliance. This way I am covered when DOH does an inspection. This will also increase liability for pest control companies. If I am fined due to treatment not being effective, I think the pest control company will hear from my lawyers. Prices are likely to either go up or companies will not want to accept the liability to eradicate an insect that is next to impossible to prove you have done so.
Second, who is going to respond to these vermin calls. Hamilton county had over 2500 calls to the health department with only 26 inspectors. The city has to respond to other types of inspections that are mandated by the state. Neither department has the resources or the budgets to do accomplish this task.
Lastly, Susan Jones wants to educate pest control companies in Ohio by having them go to a seminar. Then publish who attended to the community as “Bed Bug experts”. In Ohio, licensed individuals must have on going education to keep their license. She wants to make sure companies who do this service know how to do the service. I have spoken to many pest control companies. Most have on-going education classes, most have specific procedures they have developed and do not want someone from the outside developing programs.
Once the political rhetoric has calmed down, hopefully the community will come together. It’s the beginning of a long journey. My hope is that the educator’s voices are louder than the politcians.

10 hopelessnomo February 9, 2008 at 7:40 pm

No one will allow landlords to evict tenants without due process.

It’s not surprising that PCOs and landlords are not universally pleased with the city’s actions. The interests of the pest control industry and landlords and tenants and cities…. not the same at all.

11 DFriend April 24, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Okay where here you have things from a tenants point of view. i complained about bedbugs for two months and nothing was done. i took it upon myself to call the pest control company that treats our apartments monthly for roaches and asked them if they could treat bedbugs, on their next visit they sprayed for them and then sprayed again three weeks later.

now my landlord is telling me i have to pay for the removal of the bedbugs.

12 nobugsonme April 24, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Where are you? This affects your rights.

13 BuggedOut May 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm

I live in an apartment complex of 17 units. One family continually refused to let the bug man in to take care of roaches. Now that they have moved the exterminator did not come for almost 2 months and there is a hoard of bedbugs coming down a wall in my friend’s unit who lives right beneath the recently vacant apartment. Our landlord told her to pay 175 for removal of bedbugs or get out. This whole problem began with the lady on the top floor that people keep reporting seeing in our laundryroom doing her laundry.

Who is at fault here and what can be done???

14 hopelessnomo May 20, 2008 at 11:14 am

BuggedOut, in Cincinnati, you have the option of calling the Health Department for advice. They will work with your landlord on an eradication plan. All the units should be inspected by a professional and a treatment plan, involving extensive coordination, is necessary. Make some calls to inform yourself of your options. And come to the forums (blue button above) if you want to connect with other people who are experiencing infestations as well (and professionals who visit and provide advice).

Good luck.

15 billypilgrim November 19, 2008 at 12:46 am

i live in cincinnati and think i might have bedbugs. i notified my landlord immediately of the possible situation, and she said not only would i be responsible for treating my own apartment, but for the rest of the apartments in the building. is this even legal? i’m a student and i can’t really afford to treat my own apartment, not to mention the eight other units here. what can i do?

16 nobugsonme November 19, 2008 at 1:46 am


You need to call the Cincinnati bed bug hotline and ask them about your rights and what to do.

Cincinnati Health Dept. Bed Bug Hotline at 591-6000 (PDF will load):

If you need support, come to our forums:

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