Should You Tell Your Landlord If You Have Bed Bugs?


Bed bugs have got to be one of the most irritating pests to infest any house. If you are living in a leased or rented apartment, it might be harder to contain the situation since you are not in charge of the maintenance of the space.

Should you tell your landlord if you have bed bugs? Yes, you should inform your landlord as soon as you know you have them. As per most state laws, it is your landlord’s responsibility to get in touch with a qualified exterminator to find out how far the bugs have spread and try to determine where they came from.

Bed bugs can be extremely tough to combat unless you know the steps to take. This article covers the most effective ways you can use to ensure your apartment is bed bug-free.

Should you tell your landlord if you have bed bugs?

Your landlord should be the first person you inform about the infestation so that it is contained before it spreads to neighboring apartments. Go about this by writing your landlord a letter with the date on it. In the letter, explain the infestation and request for a licensed exterminator to be sent to inspect and treat your apartment unit as soon as possible. Keep a copy of this letter in case you’ll need it.

After the landlord finds an exterminator, he should give you prior notice before he/she comes to inspect your house. The exterminator is required to have a proper notice of entry since a bed bug infestation is not considered an emergency. you can also agree on an appropriate plan for when they can get into your house.

Try to be as helpful as you can in putting this nightmare behind you. You can do this by co-operating with the landlord’s requirements and any specific instructions made.

Will my landlord covers the cost of extermination?

There are a few factors that will decide who pays for the cost of getting rid of the bed bugs:

  • The state and local laws vary from place to place. According to most of them, as long as you (the tenant) are not the ones who brought bed bugs into the building, your landlord should cover the extermination cost partially or in full. For example, if you can prove that the bed bugs were in the unit before you moved in, the landlord will have to bear the cost.
  • Before signing your lease, read through it thoroughly to see who is responsible for the cost of exterminating bed bugs. If the matter gets to court, remember that the law will favor the lease, so you should keep a copy with you for situations like this.
  • If the infestation has spread to multiple apartments in the building, the chances of the landlord covering the costs are higher.

What if my landlord does not get rid of the bed bugs?

Most states also have laws that give you a way forward if your landlord doesn’t handle the infestation. Here are some of the steps you can take in such a situation:

  • You can withhold the rent until the landlord fixes the problem. During this time, I would advise you to save the rent in the bank.
  • If bad comes to worst and you have to cover the cost of extermination out of pocket, you can deduct the charges from your rent.
  • You also have the option of taking your landlord to court over any damages. This might include the cost of extermination and the value of any items that the bed bugs might have damaged.
  • You can choose to break your lease and move out early. Be sure to go through your lease agreement carefully before you settle on this decision.

Before you make any moves, make sure you get in touch with a lawyer or housing resources to see what your options are. Some states don’t allow you to refuse to pay rent or move out prematurely. This might result in you incurring heavy penalties like owing rent to a unit you no longer live in. You can also face early eviction as a result.

How to identify bed bugs?

You can easily tell a bed bug from the other parasites by its appearance. They are small, flat, oval creatures that mainly feed on human blood. They are also wingless ad they can’t jump as high. However, they are fast crawlers.

An adult bed bug is about a quarter-inch long, roughly the size of an apple seed. When young, the bed bugs are usually smaller and they appear almost colorless since they haven’t fed on a lot of blood. Adult well-fed bed bugs are a reddish-brown color.

A more painful way of realizing you have bed bugs is by finding painful bites on your skin. These pests attack the arms, legs, shoulders, and neck. Bed bug bites usually create a red bump without a center puncture mark. The bite is around a centimeter wide and they accompany each other on clusters of three or four. If this is not the case., they may occur in a line.

The bites are the sign of an infestation that most people notice first. The next step you should take is to look for dark-colored spots on the bedding. These are usually either the bug’s droppings or blood spots. You should also look for live bed bugs, their eggs, and cast skins.

How do I get rid of the bed bugs?

Making your home bed bug-free will require time and effort from all the parties- the landlord, the tenant, and the exterminator. Be sure to start the extermination process as early as possible to prevent spreading the bugs.

Before the extermination process begins, an inspection has to be done, usually by an exterminator. The point of the examination is to determine where the bed bugs came from and how far the infestation has extended. This examination also helps the landlord to know which apartment unit has the most severe infestation.

As the tenant, here are some of the things you should do to get rid of the bed bugs:

  • Get rid of any clutter. This includes keeping piles of clothes, shoes, or toys under your bed, on the floor, or in your drawers. Clutter provides the best hiding spaces for the bed bugs and this makes the extermination process harder.
  • Ditch the mattress. If there are bed bugs in your home, the chances that they are in your mattress are very high. You might have to get rid of it by wrapping it in plastic and throwing it out of the house. However, you have the option of keeping the mattress. You will have to use it with a special cover that keeps the bed bugs from coming out. Keep this cover on for at least a year.
  • Wash it all. You should wash your sheets, blankets, and any other bedding that you used. Wash them under the hot setting and dry them on medium or high for 20 to 45 minutes.
  • Vacuum. You will also have to vacuum all the surfaces and furniture to ensure those little biters are all gone. Vacuum through the house one more time to be sure. Once you are through, put the vacuum bag in an airtight one and throw it away in an outdoor dustbin.
  • Vacate the unit during the treatment period and ensure there are no pets left behind as well.

The exterminator should follow after this procedure to ensure all the bed bugs are gone. Here are some of the things the exterminator should do.

  • The exterminator can move the initial arrangement of your furniture to get to any areas where the bed bugs could be hiding.
  • When it comes to dealing with bed bugs, exterminators have equipment that is designed to provide high temperatures (up to 118° F) and maintain that temperature for up to 70 minutes.
  • After this, the exterminator sprays the house with strong insecticide. Please note that normal store-bought insecticide might not be useful in getting rid of bed bugs.
  • Infested furniture is then sealed off in a container for an amount of time until all the bed bugs die.

To completely get rid of the bed bugs, the pest controller might have to perform the treatment multiple times thanks to the bed bugs’ life cycle. This can be inconvenient as well as pricey.

How to prevent re-infestation

Unless proper steps are taken, your apartment might get an infestation again. Luckily, there are some things you can do to avoid a repeat of this nightmare:

  • Do not bring mattresses, bed frames, or any other type of furniture that has been thrown out into your apartment, since you never know what they could be carrying.
  • If you buy any used furniture pieces, inspect them thoroughly before taking them inside.
  • Be cautious about who you allow into your place especially if they stay the night.
  • Check your walls for any cracks and crevices ad seal them off as soon as you can.
  • When you travel, ensure you get a good look at the room when you get there. Check the headboard and space around the bed for any bed bugs. Also, search for any signs of fecal spots on the sheets.
  • Check the luggage stand for bed bugs or signs of their presence. If there are none, ensure your suitcase stays on the stand and never on the floor.
  • Once it is time to get back home, inspect all the things you came with. You might also want to wash and dry the clothes you went with.
  • During the extermination process, ensure that you follow the pest controller’s instructions so that a re-infestation doesn’t occur in between treatments.

How to prevent disputes

Bed bugs can cause a strain in the landlord-tenant relationship, especially when it comes to deciding who has to cover the cost. There are a few things you can do to prevent falling out with your landlord.

Clear communication

Inform your landlord about the infestation as soon as you can to curb the spread and start the extermination as soon as possible. You should also have a sit-down to determine who will cover the costs. Also, your landlord should inform you before sending the pest controller to your house. Transparency will go a long way in ensuring your relationship with the landlord is not ruined by this episode.

Co-operation

Regardless of who is responsible for introducing the bed bugs, you should strive to maintain a good relationship. Try as much as you can to comply with the landlord’s instructions as you get rid of the bed bugs. The effort from both sides will make it easier and faster to solve the problem. Also, try to reach a compromise concerning the timing and any other issues you might face during this time.

Regular inspection

Most of the conflict between you and your landlord can be solved if you have a look at the property once in a while. This way, problems will be noticed almost as soon as they come up and this will allow both parties to deal with it before the situation escalates.

Final Thoughts

Bed bugs are usually attracted to large cities since humans live close to each other. Bed bugs cannot get you directly sick. Although it has been proven that bed bugs carry human pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms), there is no proof that they can transfer these pathogens to humans through their bites.

Usually, landlords are not allowed to evict because of infestations. However, the lease might have a section that gives the landlord this right in some cases. Be sure to go through the lease carefully before you sign it and check with the local and state laws to see if the lease is legal.

Should you tell your boss that you have bed bugs? Well, this all depends on you as you are not required by law to tell them. Be extra cautious so that you don’t end up introducing bed bugs to your workplace. However, getting rid of bed bugs might need more of your time. If you will need some time off, you will have to tell your employer.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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