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Landlord hires an exterminator for Bed bugs, must I repay him?

by Amanda
(Northeast PA)

I recently moved into a half of double. My son started with bites. He is a boy who spends most of his time in the woods. I thought it to be bites from insects he's encountering from the wooded area. My daughter was also starting to get bit up. I took her to the doctor where they claimed it was flea bites. I am divorced, so I thought they were getting bit from the fathers animals with flees. Then when they haven't gone there in a while but the bites were still continuing, I went back to the doctors. Again I was just told it was insect bites not to really worry about it.

I called the landlord to discuss getting an exterminator in. He agreed and met me here. Once it was determined it was bed bugs, I have been going through hell! I have very little weekly income, barely enough to live on. It's a struggle with 3 children.

I believe the bugs were here before we moved in. The landlord claimed the people that were here before us moved out without saying a word and stuck him with the bills to the house. Once I thought about this, he was also cleaning the area up where he was throwing out beds, mattresses, children's toys, and there was a bag of shoes in the woods just tossed there. This leaves me curious how a person could afford to just trash everything. I don't believe they had a choice. It seemed like they too were running from the bugs!!!! The other side has also been empty the same amount of time. Both sides evacuated on their own, but not long after one another. This just seems suspicious.

The landlord is insisting I brought them. I cannot find any help to pay for extermination. I certainly don't have enough money to make it pay check to pay way can i save to have an exterminator do the work.

The land lord found a guy who would exterminate both sides for 700.00. I was able to borrow 350.00. Why should I be paying for both sides? He took that and in the mean time we had two failed heat treatments. I don't believe the people who done this were even professionals. They came with all propane heaters. Never told me all the furniture I had would melt....clocks, blinds, tv stand peeling apart. So I am out even more than what I have started with.

Now I was awaken with a call he has Terminex coming to the house. He
has given me an hour till this guy was here. He now has the house scheduled for Thursday. He financed the loan to have this done. But he is talking like I have to repay it. Am I responsible for paying him when never have I called Terminex to come in or to do this. I know I can't afford it or come up with the money, so I wouldn't dare call. Is there any way he can make me pay for this?

Any help in this situation would be greatly appreciated. I am disgusted, depressed, and creeped out of my skin constantly. I have nothing!!!! I can afford nothing!!!! He took it into his own hands to have Terminex in, sign for financing with them. I have signed nothing with Terminex or a lending company. Will I have to repay him?

Editor Comment:

In Pennsylvania, the warranty of habitability is implied by law into every residential lease. The warranty of habitability requires landlords to provide safe and sanitary conditions for tenants. An apartment or house infested with bed bugs is not in safe and sanitary condition. A tenant cannot waive his or her rights under the warranty of habitability in the lease.

If your landlord refuses to hire an exterminator, you could contact your local Code Enforcement/Building Standards office. An officer should come out to inspect the home and issue a citation to the landlord if an infestation exists. You may also be able to be reimbursed for the costs of extermination if your landlord refuses to exterminate and you pay for the extermination yourself. Call North Penn Legal Services (NPLS) for more information.

If you live in public housing, the Housing Authority is responsible for the cost of the extermination. If you live in subsidized housing or a Project-Based Section 8 building, the owners must maintain the units so they meet physical condition standards, including no evidence of an infestation. Additionally, the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton have city ordinances that may address bed bug infestations. Ask the city for a copy of its ordinance, look at the ordinance on the city’s website, or call NPLS for information.

Contact North Penn Legal Services (NPLS) if your landlord is asking you to pay to exterminate bed bug or if you are being evicted for having a bed bug infestation. New clients can apply for legal services by calling 1-877-953-4250 or NPLS’ Lehigh Valley Office at 610-317-8757.

Note that we do not provide legal advice for specific circumstances. Please call the number above for assistance in your specific case.

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