"Florida is not immune from bed bug infestations. The insects are excellent hitchhikers and are highly likely to enter and exit the State hiding in the luggage of unsuspecting tourists. In turn, higher incidences of bed bugs are seen in the top tourist areas such as Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. Another sign that the problem is growing is the increasing number of Florida exterminators that now specialize in bed bugs, a factor that didn't even exist several years ago.
Government resources and advice for Florida renters and homeowners can be found below. Bed bugs have been found in luxury buildings and public housing. They are not a sign of cleanliness or building upkeep, but more a function of people traveling and bringing them into the building. Unless specifically stated in a rental agreement, landlords are responsible for quickly responding to and treating bed bug infestations in the State of Florida."
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Florida Bed Bug Landlord and Tenant Law
In Florida, landlords are responsible for and must pay for the extermination of bed bugs unless another arrangement is agreed to in writing. Section 83.51(2)(a), F.S. of the Florida Landlord/Tenant Law. Summary of Chapter 83, Part II - Florida Statutes states that:
"the landlord of a dwelling unit other than a single-family home or duplex shall, at all times of the tenancy, make reasonable provisions for:
Extermination of rats, mice, ants and wood destroying organisms and bed bugs."
If there is nothing in your lease exempting bed bugs from treatment, then the landlord is responsible. The statute also states that "if a landlord materially fails to comply with 83.51 "within 7 days after delivery of written notice by the tenant specifying the noncompliance and indicating the intention of the tenant to terminate the rental agreement by reason thereof, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement."
We generally do not recommend tenants unilaterally terminate their lease agreement since this can lead to legal problems. Instead, inform your landlord of any problem in writing and indicate that per the above regulation, you expect that the apartment will be inspected and treated.
The exact Florida bed bug tenant law can be found here.
Often a landlord tenant dispute comes out of building managers that do not know how to treat bed bugs. For example, the use of ineffective treatment methods such as bed bug bombs, will temporarily treat the problem, only to have the bed bugs that fled into the walls, soon return. Bed bug bombs can also result in bed bugs spreading to adjacent apartments.
Renters insurance will not cover bed bug infestation treatment since insurance companies assume the problem will be managed by the building owner.
Taking Legal Action
If a landlord fails to act, you can sue for damages such as:
- Damage to your property
- Relocating to another apartment
- Any scars or medical conditions resulting from bed bug bites
- Inability to work
- Suffering or pain
If you think you might take legal action, document everything. Take pictures of any insects, skin bites, and stains on mattresses or sheets.
You can read more here on the About Florida Law website.
Since there are fewer bed bug problems in Florida, government agencies are not always organized to help tourists and tenants with bed bug problems.
To report a Florida bed bug problem in a motel or hotel, contact the State Department of Business & Professional Regulation or click here to file a complaint.
To report a problem or to request help with a landlord/tenant issue, start by contacting the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
If you have an insect that you would like identified, contact a local cooperative extension office or university and ask if they have a staff entomologists.
How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs
There are several ways to confirm the presence of bed bugs.
- Bites on exposed skin during sleep (bites look similar to what can be caused by other insects, for this reason, you should also look for one or more of the following)
- Mattress stains (black, brown or red)
- Live insects (they hide in narrow cracks. Run a brush or credit card along a mattress seam to dislodge any insects).
Bed bugs can be seen with the naked eye. Adults grow to 1/4 inch and are reddish/brown in color. If a pregnant female enters the home it can lay between 200 - 500 eggs. Eggs are found in cracks or other rough surfaces. After 3 weeks, eggs will hatch.
Bed bugs are very hard to treat yourself. We suggest calling an exterminator such as a certified pro from the eLocal Network - (877) 673-2704 - or someone from Home Advisor to confirm the presence of an infestation or if you rent, ask for help from the building management company.
To protect yourself while you wait for treatment we suggest:
- Cover exposed skin areas during sleep with socks on your feet pulled over the bottom of your pajamas.
- Keep all blankets off the floor. Move the bed several inches from the wall.
If you own your home you can try and treat small infestations yourself using a bed bug kit. Again, our recommendation is always to hire a professional before an infestation gets out of control.
Florida Hotel Infestation Reports
To see if a Florida apartment or hotel you are planning to stay in have a had a bed bug problem see the site Bed Bug Registry. Just enter the name of the hotel or an apartment address.
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