Do Tenants Pay for a Bed Bug Service?

Bed bugs feed on blood.
Bed bugs feed on blood. (Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Housing codes vary from state to state, so there's no clear cut answer concerning whether tenants or landlords have to pay to rid a home or apartment of bed bugs. One misconception is that bed bugs arise from uncleanliness, but they can infest the cleanest homes. The number of homes or apartments they've infested may determine who has to pay to exterminate them.

Landlord Responsibilities

Landlords must maintain livable premises for their renters under an implied warranty of habitability, according to the Nolo law information website. A bed bug infestation is a problem that violates that warranty because it makes a home unlivable. Therefore, it may be your landlord's responsibility to pay to get rid of bed bugs in your home, unless the landlord can show you’re responsible for the infestation. The American Apartment Owners Association acknowledges that landlords usually pay for pest extermination due to their responsibility to provide habitable homes for renters. Still, the type of building in which your home is located may affect whether you have to pay for bed bug extermination.

Multiple-Unit Buildings

Regulations on multiple-unit buildings in your area may prevent the landlord from trying to place the blame and financial responsibility for a bed bug infestation on one tenant. For example, the LSNJ Law organization in New Jersey indicates that New Jersey's Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Health and Safety Code applies to buildings that contain three or more apartments. That regulation requires landlords to get rid of bed bugs if they're in more than one apartment. LSNJ recommends notifying the landlord in writing as soon as you find bed bugs in your home. Send your written notice by certified mail with a return receipt. The receipt will serve as your evidence of when you alerted the landlord about the problem in case he asserts he wasn't informed.

Houses and Single Apartments

You may have to pay for bed bug extermination if you're renting a house or renting a place in a building that only has one or two apartments. New Jersey renters, for example, need to prove bed bugs were present when they moved into such places, or that they have infested the second apartment, to avoid paying for extermination, according to the LSNJ. Another way to get your landlord to pay to rid your home of bedbugs is by disputing how the building is maintained. Landlords typically pay for regular extermination services to control bed bugs and other pests on their properties. Your landlord may have to pay for bed bug extermination if consistent pest extermination hasn’t taken place.

Getting Help

The AAOA indicates that bed bugs remain inactive for several months, which makes it difficult for tenants and landlords to determine conclusively what caused an infestation. The Legal Aid Society or a tenant's association in your area would have information on whether the type of building where you live affects who pays for bed bug extermination. You also may be able to get free or inexpensive mediation assistance to settle a dispute over bed bugs with your landlord. Nolo indicates that many cities have mediation programs that handle housing disputes, and your mayor's or city manager's office would have information on such programs.

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