Uninvited Guests

Vampires exist. Well..in the form of insects like bed bugs. They like to feed on blood especially during the night hours.

How should property managers, landlords, and/or tenants deal with infestations?

The Problem:  Bed bugs aren't the only infestation that landlords, tenants, and property managers may at some point have to deal with. Property can be overrun by cockroaches, bees, fleas, rodents, and even snakes. These uninvited guests need to quickly get the boot because they can not only cause painful bites, but also spread disease, and elicit allergic reactions. Procrastination in eliminating the infestation only increases the financial liabilities.

The Law: Every state requires property managers/landlords to maintain their rental property in a habitable condition. Infestations of any kind render living quarters uninhabitable for both health and safety. Each state and county may have specific laws that address this issue. Check the tenant rights for your particular state. If the landlord is unwilling to promptly deal with the issue, you may be able to subtract the cost of pest control from your rent. Again, check the details of your lease and your state laws.

The Expense:  Who pays to eradicate the infestation?

  • The first place to look is the rental agreement.  Who does it say is responsible for the costs?
  • But you must also ask, was the property already infested before the tenant moved in?
  • Did the tenant create the problem by negligence (such as bringing in used furniture, not properly cleaning the property, or not removing trash in a timely manner or to the designated location ) or by making some change to the property that permitted an infestation to occur?
  • Or, did the landlord make a change to the property between tenants that caused the infestation?
  • Sometimes it is a combination of tenant and landlord neglect that has initiated the problem.
  • Regardless of the cause, if the landlord is unwilling to acknowledge the infestation and/or to take immediate action to rid the problem, consulting with an attorney may be necessary.
  • Also, involving the Health Department may help clarify exactly the type and cause of an infestation.

The Solution: Depending on the type and extent of an infestation, the remedy will vary. Some home associations have a contract with a pest control service. They may be contacted to eliminate the problem without any additional expense. Traps or insecticides may be used where necessary, but with care for small children and pets. Home defense products are also available.

Preventive Measures: Insect infestations, such as bed bugs, often occur simply by carrying them from an infested area into your home on your clothes, shoes, purses, on used furniture you have purchased, or simply in your suitcase on your return home from an infested location.

  • Be aware of what lurks where you've been in order to determine which 'guests' you may be inviting back to your home.
  • Check for bugs in your luggage, used furniture, and even those that travel back home with you in your electronic devices.
  • Remember, bed bugs can live for months without biting someone. They can hide in furniture, behind baseboards, and in mattresses.
  • When returning home, never carelessly plop your baggage or other bags on your bed or couch.
  • Make sure all cracks or holes between your unit and others are sealed to prevent bug travel.
  • Landlords and property managers should encourage tenants to report any signs of infestations - whether rodent, insect, or otherwise.
  • Pets can be a source of flea infestations that can then travel from unit to unit. Be sure that all pets are appropriately cared for to minimize this source.

Most homes will never be completely bug-free, but they most certainly ought to be free of an infestation of bugs and rodents.