Bed Bugs & Landlord Liability Laws

Bedbugs cause painful bite marks and are difficult to spot during the day. An infestation of bedbugs in an apartment costs potentially hundreds of dollars in ruined furniture. A landlord's liability for items damaged or destroyed because of an infestation depend if the rental unit is up to code regarding a city or county's health and safety standards.

Landlord's Maintenance Obligations

The law requires a landlord to maintain his rental unit in accordance with local and state health and safety regulations. This includes appropriately guarding the rental unit against insect infestations, including bedbugs. A renter has the right to inform her landlord of problems with the rental unit. The landlord is to comply with written requests to make repairs to the property within a reasonable amount of time. If he refuses to perform maintenance obligations, a renter is able to either break the lease and move out, or withhold rent depending on the landlord-tenant laws in that state.

Infested Furniture

A bedbug infestation usually requires the resident to throw away the entire bed, including the box spring and frame. A landlord is not responsible for replacing the furniture if she maintains the rental unit in accordance with state and local health and safety regulations. If a landlord ignores written requests to perform maintenance on the property and an infestation occurs, she is possibly liable for furniture since the damage is a direct result of the landlord's negligence.

Spraying the Apartment

A lease sometimes contains language regarding preparation for bug spraying in the event of a pest problem. This means the resident is to vacate the apartment temporarily and remove furniture so the landlord is able to conduct pest control operations. If a tenant has renter's insurance, the policy sometimes pays for the cost of temporary housing while the apartment receives treatment. A landlord is to obtain the tenant's permission to enter the apartment if no such clause in the lease exists. Bedbugs, while annoying, are not considered an emergency for apartment entry purposes.

Blaming the Tenant

A landlord blaming the tenant for an infestation does not relieve him of the obligation to maintain the rental dwelling. Bedbug infestations happen even in properly maintained apartments. The tenant is only obligated to pay for repairs to the property when damage occurs because of negligence. Contact the local Department of Housing and Renter's Association to file a claim against a landlord if he refuses to pay for pest control treatment.