Who Pays For Bed Bug Removal: Renter Or Landlord?
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If you have ever experienced the problems that come with bed bugs, you already know that getting these pests is a terrible thing, indeed. Bed bugs are one of the most problematic types of pests to exterminate. To make matters worse, they bite and cause terrible, itchy sores. In some cases, bed bug bites can even cause nearly-lethal reactions to people with sensitive bodies. Bed bugs are not only easy to get, but they are even easier to spread. Worse, it’s hard to pick up on an infestation until after they’ve already bitten you and multiplied. When you face them, you are going to have to get rid of them. In some cases, you might be dealing with a recurring hazard that could damage your home. What does the bed bug removal cost, and how to remove bed bugs?
Could My Landlord Be Liable For Bed Bug Damage?
Signs of bed bugs remain a significant health hazard. In New York City, a home with a severe pest infestation is against the city’s building code. This means that NYC landlords are responsible for the inspection and extermination of bed bugs in their apartments.
This is true regardless of what sparked it. This is true when bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices.
What Does The New York City Building Code Say About Bed Bugs?
Bed bug infestations are a Class B building code violation.
This means that the New York City housing board finds this to be a severe affront to the livability of a person’s home.
To help ensure the livability of New York apartments, the city has a strict policy about these bugs:
- The bed bugs are not to be viewed as the fault of the renter. It doesn’t matter if you brought them in. It’s the landlord’s burden to get rid of them, full stop.
- The landlord has a total of 30 days to get rid of the bed bugs. This means that they have to start working within those 30 days. Most bed bug control methods will require additional upkeep before then, but the first 30 days tend to be when treatments first begin happening.
- If the landlord does not address the bed bug issue in 30 days, you have the right to withhold rent or break the lease. This is a breach of contract. Ergo, you have the right to stand up for yourself on a legal basis or even sue your landlord.
How Much Does Bed Bug Removal Cost?
Killing bed bugs and bed bug eggs in an infested room: how must it costs? Bed bug removal & remediation is never cheap in New York City. Though the laws are strict, actual remediation and extermination can cost a pretty penny. The initial consultation is anywhere from $50 to $150.
From there, the price of bed bug remediation can range from an additional $75 to upwards of $600. It’s worth noting that many bed bug cases tend to require more than just one treatment method. If you have a severe issue with bed bugs, you might need to pay as much as $2000 or more.
When Do You Have A Right To Sue Your Landlord For Damages?
In New York City, renters have a better set of rights than most other parts of the country. However, that doesn’t mean that you can sue your landlord willy-nilly. The best way to figure out if you have a right to sue your landlord is to call up a real estate lawyer. With that being said, there’s a decent chance that you may have a right to sue your landlord for bed bug-related damages if they didn’t help in time and any of the following is true:
- You or someone in your family had severe injuries or problems as a result of bed bugs. Did you know that bed bugs can cause paranoia, confusion, and even hallucinations? It’s true. If you notice serious mental health issues as a result of them or if you had a severe rash that resulted in a hospital trip, you may have a lawsuit-ready cause.
- The bed bug infestation caused you to lose serious money. Did you end up getting a bad review on Airbnb when you rented out your co-op? Or did you somehow have to leave the house to get the bed bug treatment done, causing you to miss work? You might have a reasonable suit. How to remove bed bugs is not easy, and bed bug removal cost is steep.
- Items that were precious to you were destroyed as a result of infestations. If you had to get rid of your mattress or a significant work of art, then you might also have a case.
How Can You Tell If A Place You Want To Rent Has Bed Bugs?
Part of knowing whether or not a place has a reputation for having pests deals with having a savvy real estate agent who knows your area. They usually know issues with buildings other people won’t.
If you want to do a bit of internet sleuthing, then the best thing you can do is look up the National Bed Bug Registry. This lets you know if a building in the area has reported bed bugs in the past. It can be beneficial.
Report the Bed Bug infested areas to Your Landlord
If you suspect a bed bug infestation in your unit or building, contact your landlord or manager right away. Your landlord should hire a qualified exterminator to inspect for and measure the concentration of bed bugs in your rental (and also adjoining units). Before any exterminator enters your unit, your landlord should give you proper notice of entry.
Some states have specific laws on the books about landlords’—and tenants’—duties regarding bed bug infestations. For example, state laws might require tenants to take steps such as:
- report a possible infestation within a certain time—usually 24-48 hours—after discovering it
- reasonably cooperate with the landlord’s extermination efforts, and
- comply with any specific control measures the landlord puts in place.
What are the landlord’s responsibilities regarding pest control?
Title 27 – Chapter 2 of New York City’s Housing Maintenance Code
states: “An owner of a dwelling shall take reasonable measures to keep the premises free from pests[…] and shall expeditiously take reasonable measures to remediate such conditions and any underlying defects[…]”
In layman’s terms, it is the landlord’s responsibility to practice “Integrated Pest Management” measures, such as sealing cracks and fixing the leaks that can invite pest infestations (see Integrated Pest Management). This also includes pest inspections and, when necessary, extermination.
Local Law 55 of 2018
further states that landlords are responsible for performing yearly inspections, ensuring that an apartment is pest-free before renting it to a new tenant, and notifying tenants of their rights.
What can tenants do if their landlord refuses to fulfill their pest control responsibilities?
According to 311’s information on Apartment Maintenance Complaints “Before filing a complaint, you should try to resolve the issue with your landlord. If you live in a co-op or condo, you should first report apartment maintenance issues to the owner, management company, or board before filing a complaint[..]. “
When tenants file an apartment maintenance complaint with 311, Housing Prevention and Development will assess the complaint. If the complaint has merit, they will inform the landlord they have either 90 days (nonhazardous pests), 30 days (bed bugs), or 21 days (rodents & cockroaches) to remedy the situation. If not, the landlord may be subject to fines.
Renters Insurance and Bed Bugs
Renter’s insurance will not typically pay for bed bug eradication or to replace any personal belongings (such as mattress and box spring) that might have been damaged by the insects. Prior to purchasing renter’s insurance, you should always read the fine print to determine what is and is not covered under the policy.