Sleep Tight Knowing How to Respond to Bed Bugs in your Rental Housing

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Bed bugs are a serious issue that we’ve seen come up in the news a lot lately.  Local legal aid offices get a fair amount of questions on a landlord’s responsibility when it comes to bed bugs in rental housing.

We wanted to clear up some misconceptions about bed first:

  • Dirt does not cause bed bugs and
  • Poverty does not cause bed bugs

You can live in the cleanest house and still have bed bugs.  Why?  Because all they need is human or animal blood to feed on and a person or thing to carry them to their next location.  Bed bugs travel by hitchhiking, so infestations are more common in places with high rates of turnover in the human population: apartment buildings, dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels and motels, and military barracks.

Because a landlord is legally obligated to maintain your rented space so that it is a fit, safe, and healthy place to live in, he or she has a responsibility to get rid of bed bugs at the landlord’s expense.

The tenant also has an obligation to keep their space free from insects and pests and also should promptly notify the landlord of the existence of insects and pests.  If the tenant doesn’t meet his or her obligations, then the landlord may try to hold them responsible.

If you notice bed bugs, or any other pests and insects, in your rental unit, then you should immediately notify the landlord and ask that they be removed.

For more information on bed bugs in rental housing, please click here.

Thanks to Virginia Legal Aid Society and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society for providing information for this blog post.

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