There are few things worse in life than discovering bed bugs in your apartment. Not only do they bite, leaving unpleasant sores, but they also ruin just about everything – clothes, furniture, throw rugs, linens, luggage, you name it.
The challenge comes when talking to your landlord. In bringing up the subject, there is an excellent chance he will try to blame you. He can claim that somehow, you brought the bed bugs with you when you moved in. What you need to do is prove the nasty creatures lived there before you.
If you find yourself in a dispute with your landlord over a bed bug infestation, there are several key points to know about. For one thing, many states have laws in place that require landlords to disclose various problems such as flooding and bed bugs. If you live in one of those states and the person you rent from fails to reveal the truth, you might be in a position to file a lawsuit.
Even if you unknowingly brought the bed bugs with you, perhaps from items you took out of storage, boxes you dug out from dumpsters, or off your pet, you need to notify your landlord immediately. At that point, it becomes your landlord’s responsibility to hire a reputable exterminator to confirm their presence and remediate the problem.
As part of the inspection process, the exterminator will identify the source of the bed bugs, which could work in your favor or against you for paying the cost of the service. If the bugs were present when you moved in, the landlord should pay for the exterminator, whereas, if they came in with you, you could expect to receive a bill for the service.
If you reside in a multi-unit complex and the exterminator found bed bugs in adjoining apartments, the landlord has no way to prove that you are responsible. Therefore, the expense of hiring an exterminator should fall back on the person you rent from. In most cases, the property owner would turn the expense into his insurance company.
For severe infestations, you, along with other tenants, may have no other option but to move. Again, if the landlord is responsible for the bed bug problem, his insurance provider should foot the bill for your relocation.
One important note, if you rent a single-family home, and you have to hire an exterminator or move, more than likely you will have to pay both expenses since there are no other tenants to blame. However, if you have rented from the same individual for a long time, always paying your rent on time and keeping the property clean, he may decide to cover some or all the cost of the extermination service at the minimum.
Because of a blurred line as to who is at fault for a bed bug infestation, and if your landlord refuses to help financially, you should contact an attorney who specializes in cases like this. After reviewing all the evidence, your lawyer will decide whether your best course of action is to go after the property owner’s insurance provider or take him to court.