Bed bugs are infesting themselves into people’s lives but for those with lease agreements it’s difficult to figure out who’s responsible for the bugs and their damages. Arizona law (for example) makes it very clear that upon discovering bed bugs renters and landlords are expected to mutually cooperate. Here are some basics to the laws regarding bed bugs.
Bed Bugs: The Law
The landlord is financially responsible for exterminating pests. The law expects them to answer quickly, within 7 days, to a tenant’s written complaint by hiring a professional and having the unit already inspected within those 7 days. Tenants are expected to stay in the unit and cooperate with the extermination of the pest. If a landlord does not handle the situation, a tenant must contract their own exterminator. Then a tenant may withhold half of a monthly rent or $500, whichever is greater, to compensate for the treatment. This is where some tenants lose their bolts, instead of cooperating many chose to immediately abandon the unit. According to law, landlords who answer to the complaints promptly are under no fault and cannot be sued in a court of law for any moving expenses, damages, etc.
But what if the creepy critters are discovered immediately after moving in? Does this mean that the landlord rented the unit already infested or that the renter brought in the bugs? This very situation can cause a spat among many people. Julie Adams moved into the Moorings at Mesa Cove in Arizona, and stayed less than 7 days. She woke to bed bugs crawling on her, exoskeletons, and feces on her mattress and decided to immediately move out. After speaking with neighbors at the Moorings it was quite evident that management knew of the problem and had failed to correct it. Eventually, Adams and her husband were offered a settlement by the Moorings. Another Phoenix Valley woman, Tamika Austin, at Biltmore on the Lake in Phoenix said to have found bed bugs and moved out only 3 weeks after moving in. Management there refused to cooperate and refund her deposit.
Legal Protection Against Bed Bugs
Many places have addendums stating that a tenant has seven days after moving in to notify management of a bed bug problem if they want to avoid fines for breaking their lease and regain their deposit. The pesky liability also goes both ways. If a tenant is negligent and knowingly brings in the bed bugs through old, used furniture or other means, they may be held financially responsible for the infestation in their unit and the surrounding units. In such cases, it’s best to contact an attorney who specializes in bed bug cases.
Bed bugs are difficult pests to detect. They hide in cracks and crevices and come out mainly at night, when people are in their deepest sleep. In general, bed bugs haven’t been reported to cause illness or disease, but the bugs definitely put people at psychological unease. Not only are they a physical night time nuisance but they’re a financial pest for landlords and renters alike.