Bed Bugs

What are the laws and best practices regarding potential bed bug infestations?

Best Practice:  Download EBRHA's Bed Bug Addendum
This addendum contains important information on bed bug appearance, reproductive life cycle, common signs and symptoms of an infestation, and the residents' responsibility to report potential infestations to the rental owner.

Legal Q & A:  Bed Bugs
Question: My resident informed me that her rental unit has bedbugs. She signed an addendum at the beginning of the lease agreement stating that the unit is free of bedbugs. She would like for me to cure this issue. Can I charge her the cost of the inspection and work done after I resolve this?

Answer:  The answer depends upon whether you have identified the source of the bedbug infestation. If the bedbugs migrated from another unit into the current resident’s unit, it may prove difficult for you to justify charging the resident the cost of the inspection and subsequent remediation work. The resident may not have caused the infestation but may merely be a victim of the infestation. Since the owner has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that there is no vermin infestation within the building and to remedy it (warranty of habitability), it would be inappropriate to assess the charge onto the resident. 
However, if the owner is able to demonstrate that the source of the infestation is, in fact, the resident complaining, and there is no other explanation for how the bedbug infestation occurred (no bedbugs in any other unit in the building), then you would have a more likely chance of successfully requiring the resident to pay for the inspection and remediation costs. The best approach would be to deduct from the security deposit after the resident vacates (if possible). This would alleviate the potential conflict that often arises when a resident disputes the demand for reimbursement for out of pocket costs for property owner repairs/pest remediation.

Contributor: Daniel Bornstein, Attorney

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