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California Bed Bug Laws, Information & Resources

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"Bed Bug problems have been reported throughout the State of California. The most infestations are in Los Angeles, a city which ranks #4 in the United States with the most problems reported in the San Fernando Valley and the lower income areas of L.A. San Francisco is ranked #12 and Sand Diego #49 (source: Orkin study). The State of California and Cities such as San Francisco have been proactive in addressing the problem by mandating that landlords are responsible for bedbug treatment.  "

tenant rights and bed bug Laws

In California, landlord/tenant issues are governed by State Law.  However, some municipalities such as San Francisco have gone further and have laws that protect tenants and require landlords to both treat and pay for bedbug infestation control. 

The San Francisco bed bug legislation:

"Any noxious insect harborage or infestation including, but not limited to cockroaches, bed bugs, fleas, scabies, lice, spiders or other arachnids, houseflies, wasps and mosquitoes, except for harborages for honey-producing bees, of the genus Apis regulated by the California Food and Agriculture Code, Section 2900 et seq. which are not other wise determined to be a nuisance under state law"

San Francisco Rules and Regulations on How to Control Bed bug Infestations can be downloaded here (pdf).

Information on tenant rights and landlord obligations are available from the California Department of Public Affairs

In California, landlord/tenant law states that....:

"A rental unit must be fit to live in; that is, it must be habitable. In legal terms, "habitable" means that the rental unit is fit for occupation by human beings and that it substantially complies with state and local building and health codes that materially affect tenants' health and safety"


"Tenants also are responsible for repair of all damage that results from their neglect or abuse"

This unfortunately leads to confusion since it isn't clear who is responsible and who pays.  

According to the California Apartment Association, a landlord organization:

"Pests, including bedbugs are a habitability issue. Accordingly the owner or manager needs to deal with it promptly. A qualified pest control operator may be able to offer an opinion as to the source of the bedbugs (i.e., due to a higher concentration in the mattress in Unit B, than in other units). If fault can be determined, an owner may want to try to recover some costs from the responsible resident. However, even if it is a particular tenant's fault, if it spreads to other units due to lack of prompt action from the owner, the owner may be liable to those other residents."

If you are a tenant that with a bedbug infestation, we suggest:

  1. Organizing tenants and possibly place rent into escrow until bedbug treatment is received and problem is resolved.
  2. Contact your local department of health to see if they can help negotiate with the landlord or building manager.
  3. Contact local politicians for help.
  4. Contact the television media since bed bugs are a popular story for the news.

You can download the California Tenants Association Guidelines insights to landlords on Bedbugs on Residential Property. (PDF)

Landlord obligations under California Civil Code §1941.1 which states that landlords must provide and maintain clean premises that are free of rubbish, filth, garbage and vermin. 

Read more about California Bed Bugs Tenant Law.

Government Resources

Director’s Rules and Regulations - How to Control Bed bug Infestation
San Francisco Department of Public Health

Bed Bugs Bulletin (PDF Download)
Los Angeles Department of Public Health

What You Need to Know About Bed Bugs (PDF Download)
California Department of Pubic Health

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite (PDF Download Bed Bugs Handout)
California of Public Health

Guidelines for the Control and Prevention of Bed Bug Infestations in California (PDF Download)
California Department of Public Health

Bed bug information is also available from the Vector-Borne Disease Section of the
California Department of Public Health - (916) 552-9730.

To confirm that a California bed bug exterminator is licensed visit the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), Structural Pest Control Board at (916) 561-8704 to confirm that the company is certified.

Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program - Bed Bugs
University of California

To file a bed bug complaint with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Section call (415) 252-3800 or go to their office at 1390 Market St., Suite 210, S.F., CA 94102.

California bed bugs news

Bed Bug Infestations In California Among Worst In Country: Report
La Jolla, CA Patch

Bed Bugs: 3 CA Cities Crawling With Them, New Rankings Show
Los Angeles, CA Patch

California Family Gets $1.6 Million After 3-Year-Old Was Scarred by Bedbugs
NY Times

S.F.'s Bedbug Battle a War Without End
San Francisco Chronicle 

CNN Says San Francisco is Infested with Bedbugs

LA Creeps Into Nation's Top 10 List for Cities With Most Bedbugs

How to find an exterminator in california

Bedbug treatment can be expensive with property owners or homeowners commonly spending $1,000 or more.  Because of the high cost to treat a home, we suggest contacting several companies for quotes, to determine their guarantees (usually takes 2 to 3 treatments).  Ask questions about any warranty, habitability during application of chemicals, how many ways will they use to treat each room,  treatment of furniture, and areas of the home such as the bedroom. 

To quickly speak to a reputable bed bug exterminator we suggest:

1. Get up to four Free Quotes from the eLocal (877-673-2704): This is a national network of pest control companies that are pre-screened before being approved for membership in the network.  Each member needs to be licensed and insured.

2. Request a Quote Online From Home Advisor
Visit our page on finding an exterminator to request up to 3 quotes and for a list of questions to ask.

You can double check that a Bed Bugs California company is licensed check with the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

We do not recommend that you treat an infestation yourself. It is very hard for a homeowner to find and then kill bed bugs. If you can't afford an exterminator, ask about a payment plan.

If an infestation is small or just starting you can try to treat the problem with an insecticide based bed bug kit. Kits contain the multiple products you need to kill bed bugs.

If you live in an apartment unit check with your managing agent and give them notice before authorizing and paying for any bed bug infestation treatment.  Multiple apartments may need to be inspected before treatment begins to keep the spread from unit to unit. Put any extermination requests in writing, list details such as the date and time you captured any insects, and symptoms such as bites or blood stains on the mattress. Ask for when any inspections will occur in your apartment. 


does california have bed bugs?

Bed bugs are prevalent throughout the State of California. The biggest problems have been seen in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

do landlords have to pay for bed bugs in california?

California Civil Code §1941.1 on Landlord Obligations states that landlords must provide and maintain clean premises, free of rubbish, filth, garbage and importantly vermin. Vermin would include their obligation to keep an apartment bed bugs free. A tenant has the legal right to withhold rent when the landlord fails to maintain habitable conditions. 

We do not suggest withholding rent until a landlord is notified in writing that you have a bed bug problem. Consult with your city's pest management coordinator before taking any action.

do you have to throw out your bed if you have bed bugs?

You do not have to throw out your bed if you have bed bugs. You can purchase bed bug proof covers that will trap any insects that were not killed or removed during treatment.

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