Renters listen up here! One would think you would rather “evict the bed bug” instead of a paying tenant, but that is not what is happening out in the real world. The “fear” of bed bug eviction plagues people and is causing an expansion of many other problems.
Just because you happened to pick up a bed bug or bed bugs moved possibly through the walls from an adjoining unit, it does not mean you are automatically evicted. Now, can people acquire an eviction because of bed bugs? Yes, but only under certain circumstances. This confusion is what we hope to clear up for tenants and landlords in this article.
Picking Up Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are parasites that are deliberate hitchhikers and can attach themselves to personal belongings as you come and go in life. Usually, people have no ideas where or when they picked up the first bed bug. Common places where bed bugs spread include; work, school, an evening out with the family, at the theater, a friend or relatives house, on an airplane and even at your apartment complexes main office.
They are no more difficult than picking up a flea as you walk across a lawn, purchasing a package from the grocery store that has worms, or your child picking up head lice from school.
Insects are a part of life, which many are seasonal. That is why most professional properties from restaurants to apartments and businesses have regular pest control visits, to keep up with potential pest problems. Because of the nature of bed bugs and the huge invasion nowadays, more and more property owners are starting to address them as part of their regular services.
Precautions before moving in
If you are concerned whether an eviction is a possibility because of bed bugs then the best place to start asking questions is BEFORE you choose a place to live. Discuss the probabilities and possibilities of bed bugs with your leasing agent, and you will likely find out quickly who has actual bed bug knowledge and if you want to live in that particular environment.
Educated property owners that have built stable relationships with their professional bed bug experts will have their full staff (including maintenance) trained for bed bug probabilities. They will have their leasing agents address their policies and procedures with their tenants. They will have an addendum that is fair to both the renter and the owner. Also, they will have their units frequently inspected throughout the year and especially before move-in day. Any previous infestations in the unit (and surrounding units) should be discussed. You may also have to disclose any bed bug issues that you’ve had as well. Educated property owners understand that bed bug issues are becoming a way of life, can affect anyone, and are included on the list of pests they already have to deal with.
This all sounds great in principle, but regrettably, the masses of multi-unit property owners still have not caught on when it comes to bed bugs. If your landlord is not current with bed bug procedures and treatments, then you should consider that before moving in!
What constitutes an eviction for bed bugs?
Bed bug evictions are happening more frequently throughout the country, and it can be concerning for many, especially if you’ve had bed bug issues in the past. Here are some factors that might put you at risk for a bed bug related eviction:
- You are a repeat “bed bug offender” costing the owner over and over again; the owner has the right to allow tenancy to whom they wish and have policies, procedures, and rules for creating a safe pest free environment.
- Following all bed bug related rules and procedures that your landlord has put into place is essential to the effectiveness of any bed bug treatment AND can help you avoid eviction. Refusing the proper procedures can easily result in a breach of your leasing agreement and constitute an eviction.
Do’s and Don’t
Do – Read and understand all documentation, policies, procedures, and information that your landlord provides you upon moving in and if any bed bug issues arise. All systems will need to be followed precisely to avoid any legal or financial problems. If your landlord did not give you bed bug information upon moving in, it might be a good time to discuss this before a bed bug problem arises.
Don’t – go out and purchase off the shelf pesticides to spray in your home. This method rarely works and often (sometimes after several months) you will realize that the bugs have been spread throughout your home, rather than staying in one confined area. You will be held responsible for the spread of the bed bugs and could even have put your neighbor’s apartments at risk in the process. You may be held financially accountable for any damages and treatment costs.
Do – Tell your landlord right away when a bed bug issue has come to your attention. Property owners have the right to protect their investment. Keeping a bed bug issue secret can cause more damage to the structure of the building, and most costly treatments and repairs. The landlord may even pay for treatments, so always be up-front with any issues. Remember, bed bugs can affect anyone and having a bed bug problem doesn’t mean that you are “dirty”.
Don’t – refuse to do what your bed bug professional recommends. Failure to do the proper follow up after a bed bug treatment can significantly reduce the treatment effectiveness. If the pest control company has to come back time and time again to treat your apartment, it will be evident that YOU cause a financial and emotional hardship for the owners and you could be held financially responsible and/or face eviction.
When it comes to bed bugs, it’s important to step up to the plate and take responsibility where needed. Working together is KEY in complete bed bug remediation. Always make sure your landlord is up-to-date with bed bug information before signing your lease. If you need help reading through your bed bug addendum, contact your attorney and read our blog here for more info. And if you do have a bed bug problem, remember IBBRA has providers all over the US that can treat bed bug issues, do staff training, and get you and/or your tenants heading in the right direction and away from bed bug issues!