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San Francisco, California Bed Bug Laws, Information & Resources

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Resources, prevention and extermination guide for bed bugs in the San Francisco area. Like other major cities in the United States, bedbugs are continuing to be a problem in San Francisco hotels and homes. Learn how to treat/prevent bed bugs and read about local news stories/govt. resources.

As quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, Dr. Johnson Ojo of the Department of Public Health said "bedbugs are popping up everywhere", from "low-income housing to high-priced hotels."

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health there is a growing number of bed bug complaints, mostly from occupants and owners of residential hotels, youth hostels, and shelters.

To fight the problem the city has implemented mandatory training on bed bugs for hotel managers/owners, and set up procedures for responding to complaints and treatment. The rules require that infested rooms receive 1 pesticide application as well as the adjacent rooms. Applications are required for every two weeks for 3 consecutive applications.

Government Resources

Do You Have Bed Bugs? 

City and County of San Francisco Department of Public Health Fact Sheet

Director’s Rules and Regulations - How to Control Bed bug Infestation

San Francisco Department of Public Health

Bed Bug Prevention and Control

San Francisco Department of Public Health

To file a bed bug complaint with the San Francisco Department of Public Health Section dial 311 or call (415) 701-2311

Bed Bugs San Francisco Tenant Rights

Landlord and tenant disputes are becoming more and more common throughout the United States. Landlords often accuse tenants of bringing bed bugs into the apartment. Many landlords refuse to pay for treatment, with some even moving to evict tenants that report a problem.

Landlord tenant rights are governed at the State level in California. Because of this, landlord and tenant issues are usually left to the State Attorney General's office for resolution. That said, certain cities such as San Francisco are passing laws to protect tenants. Specifically, there is an ordinance in San Francisco which states that:

"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 otherwise determined to be a nuisance under state law"

This San Francisco bedbug ordinance calls out bed bugs as a nuisance that must be addressed by a landlord. The Director's Rules and Regulations on How to Control Bed bug Infestations can be downloaded here (pdf).

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"

As you can see, the law can be interpreted in favor of both the landlord and tenant, creating an unclear resolution when trying to kill bed bugs San Francisco. However, advice provided by the California Apartments Association to landlords indicates that this is a landlord expense, although, landlords can try and go after tenants for payment, if they can establish fault.

The California Apartment Association to landlords states that:

"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."

Our interpretation of this is that landlords are responsible for paying all costs, however, they can attempt to recoup costs from tenants.

Our suggestions for a tenant that has a bed bug problem in a building where a landlord is being uncooperative include:

  1. Organize other tenants and if necessary, place rent into escrow until bed bug treatment is received.  This will establish that the problem is building wide and not the result of any one tenant.

  2. Contact the San Francisco department of health to see if they can help negotiate with landlords

  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).

DIY Bed Bug Extermination

While we always recommend hiring a professional, it is possible to treat the problem yourself if it is in the early stages. For this, it is important to buy the combination of products to do the job correctly. There is no such thing as a one spray kills all solution when killing bed bugs.

Bed bug kit manufacturers and sellers are also an important source of information on how to properly apply each product. We highly recommend the online reseller Bed Bug Supply for their low prices and knowledge. A kit will contain the following products:

  • Knock down spray to kill bed bugs and eggs on contact. Make sure that the spray you purchase is mattress safe such as Sterifab.

  • A residual spray that will last for several weeks and kill any bed bugs that were in hiding that you might have missed during the application of the knock down spray. Phantom or Bedlam are the best choices since they are been tested for bedbug insecticide resistance.

  • Other products include bed bug dust for an added layer of protection after treatment, mattress covers to trap any bed bugs you might have missed and climb-up interceptors which go under each bed leg and prevent the insects from climbing out of hiding and back onto the bed.
Professional Bed Bug Kit Review

San Francisco Bed Bug Control News

"The Bay Area Is One of the Most Bed Bug-Infested Places in the United States: What to Do Next If You Have a Bed Bug Problem" -Tenant Law Group San Francisco

"Bloodthirsty Bed Bugs Homewreck SF Couple's Relationship" - SFTST

How To Find an Exterminator in The San Francisco Area

There are several resources available for locating an experienced bed bug exterminator in San Francisco. It pays to interview several companies, as there are differences in terms of treatment methods, and the way they charge. For example some firms charge for an on-site inspection while others to not.

Local San Francisco Bed Bugs Exterminators:

  1. Request Free Quotes from the Home Advisor Network: Visit Home Advisor (or call) for 4 free bed bug quotes. This is a national network of pest control companies that are pre-screened and approved for membership in the network.

  2. Check our List of Bed Bug Experts: We have our own expert database which can be accessed here.

  3. Consumer Reviews: Another option for finding a licensed pest control expert in San Francisco is Angies List. They list contractor and consumer reviews, consumers find this list invaluable since exterminators cannot pay to be listed. It is 100% consumer generated and highly reliable.

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