If you’ve moved into a new leased accommodation, and you’ve just found bed bugs, you’re doing the right thing by looking up your rights and obligations.
Several states have specific bed bug laws. Furthermore, the implied warranty of habitability applies in every state apart from Arkansas. This law means that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide accommodation free from infestations.
It’s frustrating but understandable that there aren’t more laws on the issue. After all, bed bugs have only really come back in the last ten or twenty years—and not in every state, either. For now, though, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about bed bugs and tenant rights.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Are Bed Bugs My Landlord’s Responsibility?
- 2 Bed Bug Checklist for Tenants
- 3 What Is the Implied Warranty of Habitability?
- 4 State Bed Bug Laws
- 4.1 Alabama
- 4.2 Alaska
- 4.3 Arizona
- 4.4 Arkansas
- 4.5 California
- 4.6 Colorado
- 4.7 Connecticut
- 4.8 Delaware
- 4.9 Florida
- 4.10 Georgia
- 4.11 Hawaii
- 4.12 Idaho
- 4.13 Illinois
- 4.14 Indiana
- 4.15 Iowa
- 4.16 Kansas
- 4.17 Kentucky
- 4.18 Louisiana
- 4.19 Maine
- 4.20 Maryland
- 4.21 Massachusetts
- 4.22 Michigan
- 4.23 Minnesota
- 4.24 Mississippi
- 4.25 Missouri
- 4.26 Montana
- 4.27 Nebraska
- 4.28 Nevada
- 4.29 New Hampshire
- 4.30 New Jersey
- 4.31 New Mexico
- 4.32 New York
- 4.33 North Carolina
- 4.34 North Dakota
- 4.35 Ohio
- 4.36 Oklahoma
- 4.37 Oregon
- 4.38 Pennsylvania
- 4.39 Rhode Island
- 4.40 South Carolina
- 4.41 South Dakota
- 4.42 Tennessee
- 4.43 Texas
- 4.44 Utah
- 4.45 Vermont
- 4.46 Virginia
- 4.47 Washington
- 4.48 West Virginia
- 4.49 Wisconsin
- 4.50 Wyoming
- 5 How to Use the Implied Warranty of Habitability
- 6 Similar Posts:
Are Bed Bugs My Landlord’s Responsibility?
As a general rule, bed bugs are the responsibility of whoever brought them into the house. Let’s illustrate this idea using a couple of examples.
- Tina just moved into a house. She did a brief inspection of her own before she moved in, but didn’t see any bed bugs, or any other infestations for that matter. However, immediately after she moved in, she started getting bitten at night in her new bed. These, presumably, are bed bugs from the previous tenant.
- Jerry has been living in an apartment for five years. His first five years were completely bed bug-free. But eventually, the problem seemed to come from nowhere—all of a sudden, he was getting bitten. He’s not sure where they came from, but it’s definitely bed bugs.
We’re sure you can see the problem here. How on earth is it possible to determine fault? Even though the bed bugs were in Tina’s new house before she moved in, the landlord could argue that she brought them with her. Jerry’s case is even more clear-cut because the problem clearly isn’t the landlord’s fault.
But even if your landlord does pay for an exterminator, do bear in mind that this might not solve your problem. Exterminators are finding it harder to kill bed bugs. In areas that haven’t seen many infestations yet, a regular exterminator might not know how to handle them.
They’re becoming resistant to pesticides, especially in big cities, where lots of exterminators have used lots of pesticides to try and kill them. Make sure that the exterminator your landlord books uses heat treatment because this is by far the best method that you can use.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to get the problem under control. Let’s take a look at the bed bug checklist for tenants.
Bed Bug Checklist for Tenants
If you spot bed bugs, there are a few things you can do to ease the problem immediately. Then, there are things you can do over the following week or month to start killing the bed bugs.
What to Do Now
Before the exterminator can visit, you should follow these simple rules. They’ll make it more difficult for bed bugs to come and feed on you.
- Move your bed away from the wall. In severe infestations, bed bugs will hide in cracks and crevices in the wall. They may even hide in electrical outlets. By moving your bed away from the wall, you make it much more difficult for them to come and find you.
- Take all of your clothes, bedding, and soft furnishings and wash/dry them on a high heat. Heat is the best way to kill bed bugs, and a dryer can easily reach temperatures high enough to kill them. Washing them for half an hour at least can also kill them.
- Once washed, put your clothes and soft furnishings in sealed bags. This stops any bed bugs from re-infesting your things. Keep some clothes spare so that you can wear them.
- Clean and tidy on a regular basis. Vacuum clean the mattress, underside, and topside, as well as your box spring. Regularly vacuum clean the carpet. Make sure you don’t leave any dirty laundry lying around. Once you’re done vacuuming, securely dispose of the contents of your vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag. Put the sealed bag in the bin outside.
This should significantly cut down on the population of bed bugs in your home. And by moving your bed away from the wall and cleaning your mattress with spray, you should also reduce the number of bites you’ll be getting, too.
Aside from that, you should also take certain steps to make sure that you’re doing everything legally and above board. First, take photos and compile some evidence of the problem. Send a note in writing to your landlord to make it clear that there’s a problem.
You should use a certified mailing so that you can legally prove that your landlord got the letter. If your landlord is a responsible person, they’ll get back to you as soon as possible to tell you how they’re willing to help. In the meantime, check our guide below for what they’re legally obligated to do.
What to Do Next
There are some more things you can do to kill bed bugs. These require equipment, though, and equipment costs money. It’s important that you spend a little on preventing bed bugs instead of relying on exterminators.
As we said, bed bugs are becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides. By using these tips below, you stop that process from getting worse, not to mention you stop them from being able to feed.
- Buy a mattress encasement. A mattress encasement is like a mattress protector, but it’s completely sealed. It stops bed bugs from getting either in, or out. Over the course of a year, every single bed bug inside will starve to death. Don’t open it for any reason, until at least a year has gone by. You can get one for a box spring, too.
- Use sprays and diatomaceous earth on a regular basis. These can kill bed bugs, although they’re not as effective as heat treatments. Don’t use Raid or similar, as these don’t work. You can make DIY sprays using essential oils, which have a limited effect.
- Use DIY bed bug traps and killers. There are plenty on the market that you can use, or that you could even make for yourself. One simple trap is to put cups around the feet of your bed, filled with a little water. Any bed bugs that manage to climb the cup will fall inside and drown.
- Make sure that all the cracks in your wall are caulked up. In apartments, bed bugs can get inside the walls and get into your home through these cracks. The same applies to cracks and gaps in your baseboard, or in your floorboards.
Aside from that, keep your bed away from the wall on a permanent basis. And continue to vacuum clean and tidy on a regular basis, too. If you continually use each of these methods together, you should be able to beat bed bugs without any help at all.
What Is the Implied Warranty of Habitability?
As you’ll see as we go through the list, the majority of states don’t have a specific bed bug law. Instead, the warranty of habitability applies. Every state has their version, which applies whether or not it’s written into the lease. The warranty gives the tenant the right to:
- A rental property that’s up to code
- Windows and doors that lock
- Electricity and plumbing that function as intended
- Smoke detectors that work
- Adequate heating
- Hot and cold drinking water
- And, last but not least, a home that’s free from pests.
Both the tenant and the landlord are responsible for making sure that the building meets these standards. The warranty also means that there are steps you can take to force the landlord to make these repairs and, in the worst-case scenario, even sue them for damages. This is where the problem of establishing fault comes in. Did the landlord lease out an apartment that already had bed bugs, or did you bring them with you when you moved in?
If you can prove that the bed bugs were there from the moment you moved in, the landlord will be liable to pay for their removal under the implied warranty of habitability. You’re going to need real proof that they were there. Contacting a pest control operative is your best bet. You should also take plenty of photos and collect physical evidence too.
Even if you’re certain you didn’t bring them to your new apartment or house, it’s hard to prove. That’s why most cases end up being settled between the tenant and the landlord rather than through legal means.
State Bed Bug Laws
Each state has different laws regarding bed bugs. The next part of our guide details who’s responsible, and what they’re responsible for doing.
Alabama doesn’t have many bed bug laws.
There is one relevant part of the law, under Alabama Administrative Code § 420-3-11 (Construction, Maintenance, and Operation of Hotels). Subsection .12 covers Insect and Rodent Control.
Unfortunately, this only relates to hotels! Any hotel that’s found to be infested with bed bugs or other insects is immediately shut down. Consequently, an ADPH (Alabama Department of Public Health) environmentalist will only investigate a complaint in public lodgings, i.e., motels and hotels.
Apart from that, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Alaska doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
In Arizona, there are a few laws that apply. These apply to rental properties. The first is Arizona Revised Statutes § 36-601 – Public Nuisances Dangerous to Public Health. Under this law, bed bugs are considered to be a public nuisance.
Specifically, it lists bed bugs and other ‘ectoparasites’ in any ‘sleeping accommodations [that] are offered to the public.’ This applies both to rental properties and to hotels/motels.
Not only that, but § 33-1319 specifically relates to bed bug control and landlord/tenant obligations. It lists the following obligations concerning a bedbug infestation:
- They have to provide educational materials about bed bugs and how to deal with them.
- The landlord isn’t allowed to lease out a property that they know to be infested with bed bugs.
- The tenant shouldn’t knowingly bring anything into their new apartment/house that contains bed bugs.
- A tenant is obliged to let their landlord know of an infestation.
This section also does not create a cause of action against tenants concerning damage caused by bed bugs. This means that your landlord can’t get you to pay for the damage caused by bed bugs in their property, even if you brought them in.
Unfortunately, Arkansas does not protect tenants against bed bug infestations. And in Arkansas, the implied warranty of habitability does not apply—the only place in the country where this is the case.
This would normally mean that the property should have been habitable when leased. Because this doesn’t apply, it’s therefore impossible for the landlord to be held responsible for a prior infestation. An Arkansas woman found this out the hard way when she tried to sue her landlord for an infestation.
This means that you’re on your own when it comes to bed bugs. You have no legal recourse. Your best bet is to either move out or take steps to get rid of the bed bugs yourself. Alternatively, ask your landlord nicely and see what they say. You never know you might get lucky.
California has a good few laws that protect tenants from bed bugs and outline the landlord’s responsibility in getting rid of them.
According to the California Code of Regulations, Title 25, Housing and Community Development § 40 the landlord is responsible for providing safe and clean bedding in a rental home (so long as the accommodation is provided furnished, i.e., the landlord is offering you a bed).
The bedding has to be clean, dry, sanitary and free from infestations like bed bugs. Recent changes to the Civil Code, § 1942.5 also prohibit a landlord from retaliating against a tenant, e.g., by evicting them. § 1954.602 also prevents them from leasing, or even showing a potential tenant a property they know to be infested.
Colorado doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Connecticut bed bug law is some of the best in the country.
State law in Connecticut sets guidelines both for tenants and landlords. First, a tenant has to inform a landlord either orally or in writing that their house/apartment is infested (although in writing is always best, so that you can prove it later).
The landlord then has five days to have the house/apartment inspected, after which they have to report the results to the tenant within another two days. If there is an infestation present, the landlord then has five more days to have it treated.
As a tenant, it’s your responsibility to allow either your landlord or a pest control expert access to your house. They will then, first, do a basic inspection to search for bed bugs.
This is both visual and manual, so they’ll have a quick look around, but may also flip/lift your mattress to check underneath. Make sure you’re prepared for this! It’s also part of the law that if the exterminator tells you to get rid of certain infested things, that you have to do it.
The law itself goes into great detail on what the landlord has to do. It even states that if they’re trying to get rid of bed bugs without hiring an exterminator, that they should start by vacuuming the apartment.
Delaware doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Florida has quite good protection for tenants against bed bugs. Section 83.51(2)(a), F.S. of the Florida Landlord and Tenant Law states that ‘the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times of the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for…
Extermination of rats, mice, ants, and wood destroying organisms and bed bugs.’ The tenant has to leave the property while the extermination takes place for a time no longer than four days, and won’t have to pay rent while they’re away.
Crucially, though, this law only applies while the tenancy is in place. Don’t just leave your apartment or house without telling the landlord, because this can invalidate the lease, and make it so that this law doesn’t apply. Under this law, the landlord has to pay for bed bugs even if they think you might have brought them into the home.
Georgia doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. There are both laws and precedents that establish how a hotel or motel owner is obliged to offer ordinary care to guests and keep their places of operation pest free, but these laws don’t apply to landlords and tenants.
That being said, some legislators are arguing for changes to the bed bug laws in Georgia. They think that exterminating bed bugs should be covered under the landlord’s existing liability for repairs. Hopefully, in the next few years, the lawmakers should see sense and protect both tenants and landlords against the growing bed bug problem.
Hawaii doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. They do have a law that covers hotels, but this isn’t any use to a tenant.
Idaho doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Illinois doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. The only laws that the state as a whole has to relate to the railroads. Apparently, according to 610 ILCS 85/1, Ch. 114, par. 100a, no owner or railroad operator is allowed to send out trains that aren’t clean of cockroaches, body lice, bed bugs, and vermin. It’s obvious why this is a law, but it doesn’t exactly help tenants.
That being said, Chicago has specific ordinances about the control of bed bugs. In fact, they have one of the most stringent and effective sets of bed bug regulations here in the U.S. Here’s how it works. As a tenant in Chicago, you have to tell your landlord within five days of a suspected infestation.
You mustn’t interfere with inspection or treatment, must allow access to your apartment, and must dispose of anything the pest control expert says they can’t treat. At the same time, your landlord isn’t allowed to retaliate against you for bringing up the problem. The landlord also has to pay for pest control measures. If they don’t, they can be fined up to $1000 per day!
As you can imagine, this is a great incentive to persuade landlords to take real action. Of course, it was spurred by the fact that Chicago has one of the worst bed bug problems in the U.S.
According to Indiana Code Title 32. Property § 32-31-8-5, a landlord is required to deliver the rental premises in a safe, clean and habitable condition. They have to comply with all health and housing codes that apply. This means that in most cases, the landlord is liable to pay for an exterminator. The landlord can try and show that the tenant brought the pests into the property, and can recover costs if this is possible.
Idaho doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies. The only bed bug laws they do have relate to migrant worker camps, that require whoever is in control of the camp to make sure its bed bug-free.
Kansas has a few bed bug laws that relate to the food service industry and hotels, but none for tenants and landlords. The Kansas Administrative Rules/Article 36 states that guest rooms in hotels have to ‘be free of any evidence of insects, rodents, and other pests.
Aside from this, the K.A.R. § 4-27-2 specifies that bedbugs are an imminent health hazard. Any hotel that’s found to have an infestation is required to shut down and notify authorities within 12 hours.
As for tenants, though, they don’t have any protection under Kansas law. You have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Kentucky doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Louisiana doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Maine state law is a little better than most. The law under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 14 (Court Procedure—Civil) part 7, Chapter 710: Rental Property §6021-A specifically refers to the treatment of bedbug infestations. Under this law, the landlord is responsible for:
- Conducting an inspection within five days of being informed of an infestation
- Contacting a pest control agent within ten days of finding an infestation
- Doing whatever the pest control agent thinks is necessary to get rid of the infestation
- Checking any apartment or house for bed bugs before leasing it out, and not letting it out if they find any
- Informing a potential tenant that a neighboring unit is infested with bed bugs before they choose to move in
If the landlord doesn’t do as they’re supposed to do, they’ll then be subject to a $250 fine, or the cost of damages to your goods, whichever is greater.
Tenants have specific responsibilities too. As a tenant, it’s your job to tell your landlord if you find any bed bugs. You also, obviously, have to let your landlord or their approved agent into the property to perform their check.
This is going to be a visual inspection, but they will manually look underneath the mattress, box spring and so on, so make sure you’re prepared for that. It’s also incumbent on you to comply with whatever the pest controller says—and why wouldn’t you?
If you don’t abide by the law, your landlord could bring an action against you. This will give them the court-approved right to gain access to your property or put the control measures in place.
Truth be told, this is how the story goes in most states. The crucial difference is that all this is codified into state law in Maine.
Maryland doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Massachusetts doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Michigan doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Minnesota has a couple of bed bug laws, but again, none specifically that define whose responsibility it is to get rid of bed bugs.
This is unfortunate, especially since Minneapolis is one of the worst cities for bed bugs in the U.S. Under Minnesota Rules 4625.1700 Lodging Establishments- INSECT AND RODENT CONTROL, it’s the law that hotels, motels and similar have to get rid of bed bugs as soon as they find them.
Another similar law applies to supervised living facilities, i.e., for disabled people or anyone who can’t look after themselves.
But for regular tenants, either in Minneapolis or anywhere else in Minnesota, you have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Mississippi doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Missouri doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Montana doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Nebraska has a variety of bed bug laws, but nothing that stands out among other states—and nothing that helps tenants all that much.
The first of Nebraska’s laws is Neb. Admin. R. & Regs. Tit. 175, Ch. 2, § 004. This law provides that any owner or operator of a boarding home has to keep it clean of bed bugs, and should hire an exterminator if necessary. This doesn’t apply to normal tenants and landlords.
Neb. Admin. R. & Regs. Tit. 175, Ch. 3, § 004.12 applies to healthcare facilities and demands much the same. Any health care facility has to be completely clean of vermin, bed bugs included. An unrelated law under 25 Neb. Admin. Code, Ch. 2, 005.02B(8)(a) provides that anyone who uses pesticide to kill pests has to know what they’re doing and what effect their pesticides might have on the environment.
None of these laws work for you if you’re a tenant in a regular apartment complex. You have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Nevada is similar to Kansas in that their bed bug laws relate solely to public accommodation. N.R.S. 447.030 writes the obligation of hotel owners into law—any room in a hotel infested with bed bugs has to be fumigated, disinfected and renovated until the vermin in question are entirely exterminated. Unfortunately, there’s no such specific law about bed bugs when it comes to tenants and landlords. But, as always, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
You’ll be glad to hear that New Hampshire has fairly strict rules with regards to bed bugs. The New Hampshire bed bug laws full under NHRC (New Hampshire Revised Code) Ch. 48, HB 482-FN. It’s a well thought out law that sets out the obligations of the tenant, the landlord, and the state, which so many states lack.
The state law in New Hampshire, first and foremost, stops landlords from renting out any units that they know for a fact to be infested. The landlord also has to periodically inspect the property to make sure that no bed bug infestations have taken hold.
Conversely, if the landlord finds bed bugs but the tenant won’t give them access to the property to fumigate and clean it, the landlord has the right to evict the tenant. But you’ll be glad to hear that it’s the landlord who foots the bill and that they’re legally required to investigate any claim of an infestation that you make.
New Jersey doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
New Mexico doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
New York state law doesn’t specify who’s at fault for bed bug infestations, although they do provide that no school in the state should be home to a bed bug. As a law, it makes sense, since bed bugs are easily transmitted to and caught from public spaces like schools, public transport, hotels and similar.
But like many big cities, New York City has its laws when it comes to bed bugs. This is hardly surprising. NYC is home to the bed bug renaissance, and it’s only right that the city does something about it.
The law in NYC itself states that the landlord is legally required to cover the cost of bed bug extermination. Furthermore, they have to get rid of the bed bugs within thirty days maximum. The specific law in question is NYC’s Housing and Maintenance Code, Subchapter 2, Article 4. Bedbugs are listed as one of many pests that landlords are obligated to deal with.
Not only that, but there are other responsibilities that landlords have to fulfill. They’re required to notify prospective tenants about any infestation within the last year, which is a requirement listed under the aptly named NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act. That being said, according to news reports on the law there isn’t any consequence to breaking it.
North Carolina doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
North Dakota doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Ohio is another state that protects hotel guests but not tenants. Under the Ohio Revised Code, title 37 Health-Safety-Morals, Chapter 3731: Hotels, the law states that the bedding and beds in hotels must be regularly aired and disinfected.
Anything that’s infested with vermin or bed bugs has to be either cleaned or gotten rid of. Aside from this, the only protection the state offers is the implied warranty of habitability.
But unlike the rest of the state, Cincinnati has its own bed bug law. The Cincinnati Landlord Tenant Bed Bug Law states that “the abatement of vermin is the responsibility of both the owner/manager and the occupant of an infested building.”
In other words, the city doesn’t make bed bugs the specific responsibility of either the landlord or the tenant. It’s unclear why they would make a law that doesn’t work any differently in the real world to the implied warranty of habitability.
Oklahoma doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Oregon doesn’t have any laws protecting tenants against bed bug infestations, aside from the implied warranty of habitability. However, they do also have a couple of peculiar laws that are unique to the state. In Oregon, under OR ADC § 333-030-0070, campgrounds have to be kept clean and free of vermin, including bed bugs.
Alright, that’s not so unusual, but the second law is. OR. REV. STAT. § 570.880 states that bed bug reports made by pest control operators to public health authorities have to maintain in absolute confidentiality, including the location of the site of the infestation, and the identity of the property owner/leaseholder.
It’s not a terrible idea, but they should have taken the time to define the responsibilities of tenants and landlords first and foremost, surely! Aside from this, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Pennsylvania doesn’t have any bed bug laws that protect tenants from the cost of having them removed. The state does, though, have an old law that requires migrant labor camps to be completely free of bed bugs and other vermin.
It makes you wonder how much of a problem they used to be—there are so many laws about labor camp infestations that they can’t have been nice places to live or work! All joking aside, though, if you live in Pennsylvania you’ll have to rely on the implied warranty of habitability.
Rhode Island doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. The only law they do have is R.I. Administrative Code 25-3-24:7. This law provides that any commercial pest control operative has to be certified by the state, which is no bad thing. However, for a tenant, only the implied warranty of habitability applies.
South Carolina doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
South Dakota doesn’t have any laws that apply to tenants and landlords. The only relevant bed bug law in the state is for vacation homes! SDAC 44:02:08:05 makes it the legal responsibility of any vacation home owner to get rid of flies, roaches, rats, mice, bed bugs and any vermin. The law also requires regular scheduled professional extermination services on an ongoing basis.
But when it comes to tenants trying to get their bed bug problem taken care of, you don’t have any specific laws to back you up. The implied warranty of habitability does apply, though.
Tennessee doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
In Texas, bed bugs are listed as a public health nuisance. This makes it the responsibility of anybody aware of an infestation to treat it. Under the Texas Health and Safety Code, Title 5 (Sanitation and environmental quality), Subtitle A—Sanitation, Ch.341 A it’s incumbent on somebody who owns a property to remove the nuisance as soon as they’re aware of it. This means that it’s the landlord’s job, and not yours, to kill the bed bugs.
There are also civil and criminal consequences for if they don’t, including criminal misdemeanor charges, civil penalties, fines, and other civil suits. Not only that, but it’s also the landlord’s responsibility to pay for the removal of the infestation, be it bed bugs, rodents, cockroaches or anything else. Texas, therefore, has one of the most comprehensive, tenant-focused bed bug laws in the country.
Utah doesn’t have any bed bug laws for tenants. The only law they do have related to bed bugs makes it so that schools have to be designed to prevent infestation by bed bugs and any other vermin. However, for tenants, only the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Vermont doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Virginia doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Washington doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
West Virginia has a similar law to Nevada, in that hotel owners are made liable for bed bugs in their businesses. The West Virginia Code § 16-6-16 is one of those special laws that was written as a rhyming couplet! It states:
In every hotel, any room infected with vermin or bedbugs shall be fumigated, disinfected and renovated until said vermin or bedbugs are extirpated.
In plain English, they have to kill the bed bugs. As is often the case, though, West Virginia protects travelers and tourists but not people in apartment complexes. There’s no law specifically related to tenants’ rights and bed bugs. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Wisconsin state law only provides for business premises, not for rental property. As such, only the implied warranty of habitability applies.
Wyoming doesn’t have any bed bug laws. However, the implied warranty of habitability applies.
How to Use the Implied Warranty of Habitability
So, as you can see, the majority of states don’t have bed bug laws at all. How can you use the warranty of habitability to force your landlord to honor their legal obligations?
Well, the warranty of habitability applies at all times, no matter what. It’s not something you should have to enforce, although it’s easily enforceable if the landlord refuses. What isn’t so easy is proving that the bed bugs were nothing to do with you (which is what makes their removal your financial responsibility).
- Immediately on the discovery of the infestation, accumulate as much evidence as possible. Take photos, and gather physical evidence of bed bugs and their discarded shells and eggs.
- Write to your landlord. Don’t just talk to them over the phone, or in person. If they’re that way inclined, they could easily lie about what you said and what they promised to do. At the very least, you can prove that you notified your landlord as soon as possible.
- Give them a chance to rectify the situation. This may take many days, and it will require you to allow either the landlord or an exterminator, access to your property.
If the landlord refuses to honor the agreement, search for an attorney. There are no win no fee attorneys who can help. You can either sue for damages or sue to force the landlord to make repairs.
In suing for damages, the amount you will receive if successful is the difference between the value of the rent as-is versus the value of the rent if the property were in good condition (i.e., the fair market value).
Your attorney will then guide you through the process. There may very well be little point in actually pursuing the claim. This is usually because it’s difficult to prove fault.
That’s why it’s so important to gather evidence. And regarding finding actual legal advice, it’s best you talk to a lawyer rather than rely on online guides.
Other than talking to a lawyer, you have two options. You can either agree with the landlord to repair the damages yourself and deduct the cost from the rent or terminate the lease by moving out.
Moving out is by far the easiest path to take. But do bear in mind that you’re unlikely to find an apartment in the same city that’s bed bug-free. And by terminating the lease, you waive any right you had to seek damages.
Should I Get Rid of Bed Bugs on My Own?
Even if you could force your landlord to get rid of the infestation, it’s not always the best idea. Landlords are prone to trying to do the most they can, with the least amount of money.
Unfortunately, when it comes to bed bugs, this is the exact wrong approach. You can’t just hire any old exterminator who loads your apartment with DDT or other pesticides and leaves it at that. That approach doesn’t work with bed bugs, and pretty soon, your infestation will be back.
To try and avoid this problem, talk to your landlord. Make sure they appreciate the gravity of the situation, and that by getting the cheapest possible exterminator, you’re setting yourself up for Return of the Bed Bugs: Part 2. There’s no need to be confrontational, just realistic.
If they still don’t listen, then you should take steps to get rid of them on your own. These needn’t cost much money, and will dramatically reduce the infestation and the number of bites you get.