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Establishing a Bed Bug Policy for Your Apartment

There are many issues involving tenants and landlords that can cause conflict. Bed bug treatment is one of them. In some parts of the United States, there are currently little or no laws concerning what apartment managers and owners should do -- and what tenants are responsible for -- when it comes to managing bed bugs. That could mean angry landlords, irate tenants, and the potential for arguments, misunderstandings, and even lawsuits. So what can be done about this widespread issue? The state of Connecticut may be onto something. They recently passed the new HB 5335 Tenant-Landlord Bed Bug Treatment legislation. HB 5335 hopes to alleviate such problems and help work towards lowering this country's bed bug problem. This visionary legislation means pest control companies will play a major role in its implementation and it may become a model for other states and cities in years to come. And it could also be used as a model for establishing a bed bug policy in the apartment buildings you manage. Under this new bed bug legislation both landlords and tenants have their own rights, duties, and responsibilities which include three fundamental actions:

  • Notice
  • Inspection
  • Treatment

A Landlord's Duties and Responsibilities

According to this law once a tenant reports a bed bug issue in either residential housing or public housing, the landlord or apartment manager is required to do treatment. However, this legislation does not apply to detached single-family homes. After the landlord or apartment manager is notified of a bed bug issue, they can inspect the property themselves, or hire a third-party bed bug inspector, like a bed bug dog and handler, to do so. This inspection must be done within five business days of the notice and tenants should receive either written or oral notice before entering the apartment. Then, if there is evidence of an infestation, the manager must either remediate the issue, or hire a pest control agent to treat it. Within two days of the inspection, landlords must supply the tenant with written notification about whether there was in fact an infestation. They also must provide them with health department contact information so that they can talk to them on their own. Afterwards the apartment manager or landlord has five days to treat the infestation, including, if needed, also treating contiguous units. If the manager decides to fix the problem themselves, they need to hire a third-party inspector within five business days after treatment; to make sure that the work was done correctly and get a clean bill of health. If the inspector says that there is still a bed bug issue, the apartment manager must get the place treated again within five working days. If a tenant is unable to physically comply with getting their apartment ready for treatment, managers are required to offer assistance, but can charge a reasonable fee. In addition, reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities must be made available. Apartment managers and landlords are barred by this legislation from knowingly renting out apartment units that have had a bed bug issue. They also must tell potential tenants if nearby units are infested. And finally, they must disclose upon request the last date the apartment was inspected for bed bugs.

Tenants Have Duties and Responsibilities Too

Tenants also have a role to play under the CT Bed Bug Law, or they can be charged for subsequent treatments due to failing to comply with treatment measures. In addition to notifying their landlord either orally or in writing about potential infestations, they must allow the landlord or pest control experts to enter and inspect their apartment after receiving reasonable notice. Tenants are also required to cover the costs of anything related to preparing the unit for treatment, such as washing and drying clothing or moving furniture. Each tenant is obligated to follow whatever measures their landlord requests for treatments, or face costs for non-compliance. And they must not remove infested material from their apartment until the apartment manager gives them the okay to do so.

Establishing Your Own Apt. Bed Bug Policy

If you are trying to establish such a bed bug policy for your apartment, it is very important that you have the rules established in your lease, so that both you and your tenant have no misunderstandings, and know what your own rights, duties, and responsibilities are. This way, you can help protect your liability as well as avoid unnecessary costs down the road. Having an effective bed bug policy for infestations will not only help in detecting and preventing an issue but can also bring peace of mind to both you and your tenants.

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