Can Your Landlord Know if You Bring in Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are a growing and, if you’ll forgive the pun, quickly spreading problem for apartment dwellers and landlords across the country. Indeed, apartment complexes and other multiunit buildings are pretty much the perfect habitat for these pests. Lots of people. Lots of hiding spaces. It all plays to the bed bugs’ strengths.

What Makes Apartments so Vulnerable

First, we should talk about what makes multi-unit buildings so vulnerable to bed bug infestation. There are a number of reasons why these pests spread so easily throughout apartment buildings, including:

  • Shared walls

  • Shared hallways and common areas

  • Shared laundry rooms

  • Shared storage facilities

  • HVAC, plumbing and electrical breaches between units

Simply put, if one tenant has a bed bug problem it won’t be long before it spread to others in the complex. Sometimes the spread happens organically, through no fault of any one tenant. Perhaps they didn’t realize there was a bed bug infestation growing and so didn’t take action soon enough.

But sometimes, like it or not, a tenant simply ignores the problem. Or worse, they try to treat it themselves with unsuccessful DIY treatments. In which case they can become ground zero for building-wide bed bug infestation.

Pinpointing an Infestation’s Starting Point

It’s not too difficult for landlords to track a bed bug infestation down and pinpoint where the problem started. Typically, your landlord or building manager will bring in an experienced bed bug inspection and removal service to go through the building. They’ll look for evidence of bed bug activity and through that track the infestation back to it’s point of origin.

The biology of bed bugs, combined with a variety of other environmental factors, will allow the inspection team to find the origin of the infestation. Some of the key indicators include:

  • Evidence of bed bug activity including shed exoskeletons, eggs and fecal stains

  • Live bed bugs (adults and nymphs)

  • Evidence of DIY home remedies (including over-the-counter sprays and bug bombs)

  • Recently discarded furniture and household items (mattresses, couches, etc)

Notifying Your Landlord of a Bed Bug Infestation

No one wants to be known as ground zero for a building’s bed bug infestation. If you suspect you have a growing bed bug problem in your apartment contact your landlord or building manager as soon as possible. In the majority of cases honesty really is the best policy. And trying to combat the problem on your own with DIY treatments is likely to simply make things worse.

The truth of the matter is, most landlords and property owners are more than willing to work with their tenants to address a bed bug problem. Remember, your landlord doesn’t want this headache any more than you do, and they have a vested interest in stopping it before it gets out of hand. The last thing they want is bed bugs spreading throughout the building.

Know Your Rights and Responsibilities

Landlord tenant laws, especially where bed bugs are concerned, vary greatly from state to state. Some states place the responsibility for bed bug removal clearly on the shoulders of the property owner while others shift it to the tenant. But most states hardly address the issue at all.

The best way to know what your rights and responsibilities are regarding bed bug infestations is to refer to your original lease or renter’s agreement. That’s where you’ll find either a specific bed bug addendum or a detailed statement of your responsibilities as a tenant.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

Finally, while it can be fairly easy for a landlord and inspection service to pinpoint the starting point of an infestation dealing with that infestation can be difficult. This is particularly true in apartment buildings and other multi-unit complexes.

If you find you have a growing bed bug problem in your apartment notify your landlord or property manager immediately but keep the following points in mind:

  • It’s not unusual for tenants to move into a unit that has a pre-existing bed bug problem. Before signing any lease it is always advisable to inspect the premises carefully and ask for a full bed bug history.

  • Proper bed bug treatments can be costly. Ideally the property owner will foot the bill. But in many cases it is accepted to be the responsibility of the tenant.

  • Effective professional treatment on all impacted areas of the complex is necessary to successfully eliminate a bed bug infestation. You may be responsible for your own unit but you need to be sure that the landlord has taken steps to treat the rest of the building. Otherwise the problem will just keep coming back.

  • It’s important to remain calm. Especially if you want your landlord to work with you to take care of the problem at hand. Cooperate fully during the treatment process and do your part to eliminate the infestation.

If you suspect your apartment is host to a growing bed bug infestation contact your landlord or property owner immediately. The sooner you act the better.

Published by Scott Palatnik

If you believe you’ve brought bed bugs into your home or office, give us a call, we can help!
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