Once the subject of nursery rhymes and nighttime lullabies, bed bugs are currently a very real problem in countless households across the nation. In fact, these insects are going through a cyclic, population explosion that has put travelers and shoppers at a significantly higher risk of infestation.
Whether encountering these pests in hotels, as the result of a used furniture purchase, or immediately after moving into a new apartment, the damages and trauma that they cause can be severe.
Unfortunately, the costs of treating these issues can be excessive and the laws that pertain to the responsibilities of and rights of both tenants and landlords can be very different from one location to the next. Not surprisingly, however, there is an increasing number of people who are opting to take legal action.
Is Your Landlord Responsible For Bed Bugs?
Landlords have a legal responsibility to only offer their tenants habitable dwellings. The presence of invasive pests can certainly render an apartment, townhouse or family home uninhabitable.
As such, many property owners and their management companies are just as committed to preventing bed bug infestations as tenants themselves. Their preventative efforts can consist of regular bed bug inspections and professional bed bug treatments before turning units over.
These measures frequently result in the issuance of “bed bug-free” certificates or other documentation that can be used when renting units or fighting liability issues.
If you’ve recently rented a new home and have struggled with bed bug bites ever since your move-in, it may be possible to show that your landlord is at fault. This is especially true if there is evidence of an existing infestation or a lack of “bed bug-free” documentation.
Accepting rents for units that are not offered in a habitable condition is a serious, legal misstep on the part of property owners and their management companies.
Are You At Fault For Bed Bugs?
Although bed bug infestations can be pre-existing problems that tenants only encounter after moving in, there are still countless ways in which people can introduce these pests into their living environments themselves.
These bugs are extremely good at hiding and thus, they can hitch rides into your home via your suitcase or other travel gear. They can also be found in used furnishings and other items that are purchased at thrift, pawn and consignment stores.
Neither personal hygiene nor income will play a role in determining your risk of getting bed bugs. Countless people have picked these bugs up in hotels, on trains, and in other public venues.
Due to these things, proving that your landlord is responsible for an infestation in your unit can be a real challenge.
How To Protect Yourself
Before renting a new unit, always ask to see the landlord’s “bed bug-free” documentation as evidence of inspection and treatment. Landlords are legally required to disclose information pertaining to past infestations before renting their units out.
Thus, it’s definitely a good idea to ask whether bed bugs have a been a problem in the unit before. If these insects are ever identified in your rental unit, be sure to let the management company or property owner know right away. When infestations affect multiple units or spread to common areas, the costs of treatment will likely fall to the landlord.
Getting Legal Help
You’re responsible for the costs of bed bug treatment whenever you’re determined to be responsible for the start of an infestation. If you fail to cover these costs, your landlord may be able to evict you. You should contact a reputable law firm to see what options you have.
If the cause of the infestation is unknown, however, it may be possible to split this cost with the property owner. Whenever you’re unsure about the source of an infestation or suspect that your landlord may be at fault, consulting with a bed bug lawyer is essential for protecting your interests.
This professional can examine the details of your circumstances and assist you in collecting evidence that may be necessary for holding your landlord liable. A reputable, local attorney will also have the best understanding of all relevant bed bug laws.