A Brooklyn tenant recently was awarded $300,000 from his landlord in a dispute over bedbugs.
According to a news report, the tenant claimed that the infestation continued for over two years, despite repeated requests for remediation. The tenant claims to have suffered permanent scars from bug bites.
In contrast, a landlord sued a tenant last year for spreading bedbugs throughout the apartment complex. The tenant claimed he wanted to treat the problem himself with a hardware store bait trap. The tenant also spent time in buildings with known bedbug infestations. The landlord alleged that the tenant’s actions were a public nuisance.
These cases highlight an unfortunate reality: bedbugs are still around. In fact, the number of infestations continues to rise, according to Dr. Tim Husen, an entomologist with pest-control giant Orkin. Each year, Orkin releases a list of the top 50 cities to report bedbug infestations. Currently, Baltimore, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Columbus, Ohio are at the top of the list. While bedbugs can show up anywhere, according to the National Pest Management Association, 95% of local exterminators report treating bedbugs in apartments, up from 90% in 2015. Ninety-three percent of service pros were called to single-family homes.
There is a common perception that bedbugs only impact old properties or messy tenants. However, bedbug infestations are not tied to unsanitary conditions, and commonly are found in new buildings and upscale homes. Wherever they show up, bedbugs are extremely difficult to get rid of, and successful treatment in rental properties requires cooperation between landlords and tenants.
To hold bedbugs at bay, Orkin recommends:
Frequent inspections of the bugs’ favorite hiding places: mattresses, baseboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
While clutter does not cause bedbugs, it does make it easier for the bugs to go undetected, so tenants should try to avoid placing laundry or clothing directly on the floor.
Secondhand furnishings, including bedding, curtains and stuffed animals may be unsafe and should be carefully inspected before being brought into the property.
In addition, incoming tenants should be instructed to report a suspected bedbug infestation as soon as possible. Prohibit tenants from applying pesticides in units or around common areas. Pesticides available to consumers are largely ineffective in treating bedbugs but can cause serious health risks. Landlords who are not aware of tenants’ pesticide applications still could be liable to new tenants who are exposed to the chemicals.
Don’t attempt to eradicate bedbugs without professional assistance. Call in a local pest-control expert at the first sign of an infestation.
This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.