"This is a guide to bed bug law and legal statutes by State in the United States and Canada. We also list well known bed bug lawyers and links to local government resources in the United Sates and Canada. If you do get bed bugs, use this information to determine your rights as a tenant or what to do if you own your home.
The number 2 complaint by tenants in the United States is about bed bugs (#1 is getting a deposit returned). If you are a tenant or rent your home, notify your landlord in writing when requesting treatment, as this serves as legal notification. Who pays depends on the laws in your state or country. Usually the landlord will pay in a multi-unit building. For private homes that you own, we recommended that homeowners hire an exterminator from a reputable company such as Home Advisor, however, due to the high expense, we also provide recommendations for products that kill insecticide resistant bed bugs, and the steps for killing bed bugs. Do it yourself treatment is only appropriate for smaller infestations.
If you can, capture and save some bed bugs in a plastic bag. This will serve as proof that you were suffering from a bed bug infestation and will help during a lawsuit."
Who Is responsible for bed bugs - You or your Landlord?
While laws vary by State (as shown below), the landlord is responsible for treating and paying for bed bug treatment. If you are responsible for bringing bed bugs into the building (which is very hard to prove) then you could be liable.
If you have bed bugs it is very possible that they came from an adjoining apartment. There is a 10% to 20% chance that they will spread from one infested apartment to another which is below, above or next door the infested unit.
Here's a video review of who is responsible for bed bugs.
Video: Who Is Responsible for Bed Bugs: Landlord or Tenant
A representative from the rental protection agency explains bed bug tenant rights and landlord obligations.
What to do if you have bed bugs in your apartment or rented home
If You See Bed Bugs Like These, Check Below To See If You are Protected by Bed Bug Laws in Your State
Take these steps if you find bed bugs in your apartment:
Officially document the problem in writing.
Send the document via certified mailing to the landlord, which proves that you sent the letter. Filing a complaint is one of your rights as a tenant. If in a hotel, send the letter to the hotel manager. If furniture, send it to the store manager.
Check with your City or State department of health or group that regulates landlords to check the bed bug laws in your area (or check below).
In most cases, the landlord will have a set number of days to respond to your complaint. If they do not, contact your local housing authority and file a complaint.
In the mean time, protect yourself from bed bugs as best you can. This includes covering all skin areas in bed (wear socks over bottoms of pajamas), keep blankets off the floor and keep bed away from walls and all furniture by about 2". See our guide to getting rid of bed bugs for more tips.
Consults with local attorney's if you need legal support or would like to file a lawsuit or to discuss the responsibilities of landlords vs. tenants.
how much is a bed bug legal claim worth?
Bed bug lawsuits can worth anywhere from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Any injuries the person sustained
Personal injuries such as loss of sleep, PTSD or bed bug paranoia (belief you are being bitten even after an infestation has been eliminated)
Out of pocket expenses (medical treatment, hiring an exterminator to treat home)
Property damage expenses (discarding luggage or furniture as a result of the infestation).
Lee Ann Kly, an attorney from the Dell Law Firm, reviews how much bed bug lawsuits and claims are worth.
What to do if you think if you have been bitten by a bed bug
Video: Selecting a Bed Bug Attorney After You Have Been Bitten
Attorney's from the Dell law firm, lawyers that specialize in bed bug lawsuits across the United States, explain what to do after you have been bitten by a bed bug.
Follow the advice found in this video if you believe you have been bitten by a bed bug and believe you have a legal claim or potential bed bug lawsuit.
One of the most important things you can do is to capture evidence in the hotel room where you were staying. If infested furniture, take pictures and capture a bed bug in a sealed plastic zip loc or other bag.
Keep records of any extermination or inspection. If you need an inspection, use a reputable firm, such as those available from the Home Advisor network.
It is very common to get bed bugs from used furniture, or new furniture that was transported in a truck that was not cleaned and serviced from bed bugs.
Many bed bug laws and lawsuits involve bites received in motels or hotels.
UNited states bed bug laws and Resources by state and city
23 states have passed bug bug laws, legislation or rules. Even if a state does not have a specific bed bug law, the "warranty of habitability" that a landlord offers a tenant often applies. This means that an apartment must be free of insects or other vermin before renting it to a tenant.
Ala. Admin. Code § 420-3-11-.12 Construction, Maintenance, and Operation of Hotels -Insect and Rodent Control.
Sets effective measures intended to minimize the presence of rodents, flies, cockroaches, bedbugs and other insects on the premises. The premises shall be kept in such condition as to prevent the harborage or feeding of insects or rodents.
A.R.S. § 36-601 – Public Nuisances Dangerous to Public Health.
Lists the presence of bedbugs in any public sleeping accommodations a public nuisance dangerous to the public health.
A.R.S. § 9-500.31 Prohibition on adopting landlord tenant bedbug control requirements.
Prohibits cities and towns from regulating landlord-tenant bedbug controls. Cities and towns may regulate the disposal of items infested with bedbugs.
A.R.S. § 11-269.11 Prohibition on adopting landlord tenant bedbug control requirements.
Boards of Supervisors may not regulate landlord tenant bedbug controls, however Boards may regulate the disposal of items infested with bedbugs.
A.R.S. § 33-1319 Bedbug control; landlord and tenant obligations; definitions.
A landlord may not knowingly rent a unit to a tenant that has a bedbug infestation. Tenants may not knowingly bring materials that have been infested with bedbugs into a rental unit. Landlords must provide tenants with educational materials related to bedbugs.
25 CCR § 40 State Housing and Community Development- Bedding.
Beds in apartments and hotels that supply beds and bedding to renters must ensure that all bedding is clean and free of bedbugs. Linens must be changed before a new occupier occupies the unit. Hotel bedding must be changed before each new guest arrives.
After July 2017 prior to a new tenancy for a dwelling unit, a landlord must provide written notice to tenants about bed bugs. All tenants must be told after 1.1.2018. The law prohibits any retaliation against a tenant for reporting a bed bug problem. California bed bug law also states that a landlord must inform tenants regarding what a pest control operator finds within 2 days. Landlords cannot rent out infested units. The law does not state who pays if it is the tenant's fault, making tenants potentially liable for problems that can be proven to be caused by the tenant.
Video: How California Bed Bug Law Impacts Tenants and Managing Agents
Requires railcars that will be occupied by the public be free from bedbugs. Requires regular cleaning and inspection of railcars. Provides for penalties.
Chicago enacted an ordinance to define who is responsible for bed bug control in multi-unit buildings. Tenants must report suspected bed bug problems within five days and landlords are responsible for hiring a pest control operator or professional.
K.A.R. 4-27-5 2 Lodging Establishments- Imminent health hazard.
Classifies bedbugs as an imminent health hazard. Requires licensees of lodging establishments to cease operations of areas affected by an imminent health hazard and to notify authorities of its presence within 12 hours of discovery.
Minnesota Rules 4625.1700 Lodging Establishments- INSECT AND RODENT CONTROL.
Requires hotels, motels, lodging houses, and other like facilities to be constructed and equipped to prevent bedbug infestations. Allows such facilities to use licensed exterminators in certain circumstances.
MINN. R. 4665.2300, Supervised Living Facilities, Insect and Rodent Control
Every facility shall be so constructed or equipped as to prevent the entrance, harborage, or breeding of flies, roaches, bedbugs, rats, mice, and all other insects and vermin. Cleaning, renovation, or fumigation by licensed pest control operators for the elimination of such pests shall be used when necessary.
N.R.S. 447.030 Public Accommodations -Extermination of Vermin.
Requires that any room in any hotel which is infested with vermin or bedbugs or similar things be thoroughly fumigated, disinfected and renovated until such vermin or bedbugs or other similar things are entirely exterminated.
NAC Chapter 444. Sanitation Labor Camps- General.
Requires proper measures to be taken to prevent bedbug and pest infestation in a camp.
Enact, in the sections of their housing codes dealing with infestations of insects, provisions directed at the unique problems posed by infestations of bed bugs, provided that such provisions are no less protective of the residents of dwelling units in which bed bug infestations are found than are the provisions dealing with infestations of other kinds of insects.
No Landlord shall rent the premises if it is infested by bed bugs and the landlord is not conducting a periodic inspection and remediation program. In this paragraph "remediation'' means action taken by the landlord that substantially reduces the presence of bed bugs in a dwelling unit for a period of at least 60 days;
The lessor or owner of nonrestricted property may terminate any tenancy by giving to the tenant or occupant a notice in writing to quit the premises if the tenant willful failure by the tenant to prepare the unit for remediation of an infestation of insects or rodents, including bed bugs, after receipt of reasonable written notice of the required preparations and reasonable time to complete them.
N.H. REV. STAT. ANN. § 540:13-e, Bed Bug Remediation Liability
The landlord shall bear the reasonable costs of remediation of an infestation of bed bugs, but may recover those costs if the tenant is responsible for the infestation.
McKinney's Education Law § 920 Public Schools; Infestation of Bedbugs.
Requires principals of public schools to provide parents with information about any bedbug infestations, including information on how to prevent the spread of the infestation. Requires the school infestation be addressed in the most effective and safe manner.
For housing accommodations subject to this code, an owner shall furnish to each tenant signing a vacancy lease, a notice in a form promulgated or approved by the state division of housing and community renewal that sets forth the property's bedbug infestation history for the previous year regarding the premises rented by the tenant and the building in which the premises are located.
Public schools; infestation of bedbugs (Cimex lectularius). In a city school district having a population of one million or more inhabitants, the principal of each public school shall provide immediate notification to all parents or persons in parental relation disclosing a finding relating to the infestation of bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) in such school.
Currently there are no laws that require landlords or apartment managers to correct a bed bug infestation in currently occupied places. The landlords are required to rent out apartments, houses, etc. already pest free. Since bed bugs are not considered a public health nuisance Health Departments cannot hold landlords responsible for bed bug removal as the apartment or home should have been rented to you free of any pests.
Consult your lease agreement for guidance on bed bugs and use of pesticides. It should be noted the owners, landlords or property managers of leased or rented properties are not required to provide treatment services for tenants. They might request tenants to pay for at least some of the cost(s).
Administrative Rules of South Dakota 44:02:08:05. Lodging and Food Service; Vacation Homes -Vermin control.
Vacation homes must be constructed, equipped, and maintained to prevent infestations of bedbugs and other pests. The facility may be required to hire a professional exterminator to eradicate pests under certain circumstances.
King County (Seattle) Local Hazardous Waste Management Program
Offers a hotline is staffed by a Hazardous Waste Management Program employee who offers callers tips on best practices and directs them to additional resources such as the Michigan Guide to Controlling Bed Bugs.