Bed bugs bite rental housing owners

Bed bugs were seemingly engineered in a lab to induce severe anxiety and revulsion and in fact, many tenants who have encountered these blood-sucking creatures have reported it was the most harrowing experience in their lives. When these stealthy creatures have infested a rental unit, the distressing signs emerge: black stains on pillows and sheets from their feces, red streaks of blood-drunk bugs that have been squashed during the night, and a musty scent.

Equal opportunity diners, bed bugs do not feed on debris and they vary in every way people's lives can; rich, poor, happy, sad, fulfilled, lonely, and every Californian in between. So pervasive and terrorizing is the problem, California has its own law on this itching subject, summarized in the infographic below (courtesy of debedbugged).

Since bed bugs are so hard to contain, rental housing owners must proactively address the issue before it spirals out of control. While some landlords attempt to force the tenant to pay for the exterminator, we highly advise owners to focus on remediation first and sort out the costs later.

The law is silent on whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for the expense of ridding the bed bugs, but it is very difficult for the owner to prove that the tenant is the culprit for inviting the infestation. As noted in an earlier article on hoarding, both parties have the duty to maintain a livable and vermin-free dwelling, but since bed bugs do not seek filth – they co-habit squalid apartments and posh homes – it is challenging to point the finger at the tenant, as causation is far from certain.

At MT Evictions, we urge landlords to take immediate action or risk a costly lawsuit like the one brought by an Inglewood family alleging breach of warranty of habitability, emotional distress, negligence, and breach of contract when members suffered bleeding and disfigurement. 

The $1.6 million-dollar payout is an extreme example, but we also remind landlord's that when they attempt to evict residents, a surefire way to delay or lose the eviction action is when they delay necessary repairs or eradicate a bed bug problem. 

 

 

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