Landlord tenant law is the wild west when it comes to bed bugs. There are no “official rules”. The only stipulation that can dictate how bed bugs are handled is if it is included in your lease agreement. This would be in the form of a bed bug addendum or statement of responsibility in your lease.
Bed bugs in a multi unit building can be particularly difficult to deal with. In a single free-standing unit, a bed bug problem can be easily handled. In a building that has multiple units that share walls, halls, elevators and laundry – a bed bug issue can spread quickly. The nature of multiple customers in one building can be more difficult to deal with.
There are a few reasons bed bug issues spread in buildings;
- Shared walls, HVAC, plumbing and other breaches between units
- Shared hallways and common spaces
- Laundry rooms
- Social visits between tenants and their kiddos
If one tenant has a bed bug problem, the issue can quickly spread throughout the building for a variety of reasons. Sometimes this happens when the person knows about a problem and either can’t or doesn’t want to deal with remediation. Sometimes it is truly an honest mistake, and not realizing you have an issue until some time passes.
How a Landlord can prove bed bug infestation starting point
Typically it’s fairly easy to tell which unit a bed bug problem started in. Honesty is always the best policy. We’ve found most landlords or building owners are willing to work with their tenants financially to get a situation handled to AVOID it from spreading further and worsening.
Your landlord and an experienced pest control professional will typically provide notice, and inspect ALL units in a building or area that is suspected of having an issue. This inspection will look at evidence. The biology of a bed bug and how it reproduces, along with some other environmental factors, can pinpoint a pretty accurate timeline.
Between the quantity of bugs and evidence, it is fairly simple to see where an issue originates from.
- Evidence such as skins, eggs, and fecal stains
- Live adult bed bugs and babies
- Evidence of DIY treatments, sprays, dusts and bombs
- Evidence of discarding furniture and household items
What we see often is a unit or two with a very mild situation or infestation, and then a unit that is severe. In almost every situation this unit is the original infestation.
Exceptions and things to consider
While it can be fairly simple to pinpoint a problem, there are some exceptions and things to take into consideration.
- While honesty is the best policy for BOTH landlords and tenants, that isn’t always reality
- A tenant can move into a unit that had a pre-existing situation or neighbor with bed bugs and have no idea
- A tenant can have extenuating circumstances and be un-able to handle a bed bug situation. Proper treatment is not pennies on the dollar!
- It’s important to move on, and not play the blame game. Cooperation during the treatment process should be the priority.
- Effective professional treatment on all impacted areas is critical to successfully getting rid of bed bugs from multiple units. In many situations, this means the landlord must take the lead and coordinate the efforts and professional help.
If you suspect a bed bug issue in your apartment building, it’s important to seek experienced help from a bed bug service professional!