Bed bugs are small insects that hide in mattress seams and bed frames to feed off human blood. Rental properties like apartments, condominiums, hotels, and guest houses are especially vulnerable to these nuisance pests because of the number of people that stay in them. To help minimize the infestations and avoid legal gray areas, the government of California introduced bed bugs laws for guest houses and similar properties.
So what are the important bed bug laws for guest houses in California? The state of California has created bed bug laws because of the surge of bed bug infestations in the country over the last few decades. In 2017, Civil Codes 1942.5, 1954.602, 1954.603, 1954.604, and 1954.605 took effect to help both landlords and guests in the long run.
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are some of the most annoying pests to invade a home. Although they don’t bring diseases as vermin or cockroaches do, they’re extremely difficult to identify early on or get rid of permanently. According to 68% of pest management professionals, bed bugs are the most difficult pests to eliminate in a property.
These critters are found almost everywhere, but hotels and guest houses are more vulnerable to bed bug infestations than other establishments. The main reason for this is that the bed bugs have a constant source of food since a lot of people come in and out of guest houses and hotel rooms. The bed bug populations also spread easily from one place to another because they’re excellent hitchhikers, making more people cautious about staying in the rental units for too long.
Although there isn’t a federal law about bed bugs, some states in the country have bed bug-related codes and regulations in place. Here are some of the important bed bug laws to remember in California:
This law prevents landlords and property owners from retaliating against tenants who notified them of a possible bed bug infestation in the guest house. This means guests and renters won’t be evicted from the unit for any reason (including nonpayment of rent) until the bed bug problem is fixed.
Before the Civil Code 1942.5 was passed, tenants were often evicted from the unit just for reporting a suspected bed bug infestation. Most landlords didn’t want to admit that their negligence and carelessness resulted in bed bugs in the apartment complex. They often filed for eviction and blamed tenants for the infestation.
This bed bug law prohibits property owners to show or rent a dwelling unit that they know or suspect has bed bugs. Before this law was passed, owners weren’t responsible for the bed bug infestations and they could rent a room to a prospective tenant or guest.
Although this law doesn’t require landlords to get the apartment inspected for bed bugs, they’re still considered liable for negligence if the infestation happened in the building. Many landlords and property owners protect themselves from potential lawsuits by getting a bed bug clearance file from a pest control operator or signing a bed bug addendum with the guest or tenant.
According to this law, property owners should provide a bed bug notice to new and existing tenants or guests. They should also provide detailed steps when it comes to reporting suspected infestations to the property manager. It should also include the landlord’s obligations and the tenant’s responsibility of reporting the potential infestation.
For example, a unit is considered to have an infestation if the tenant saw one or more bed bugs. Even without a bedbug sighting, one or more bloodstains on the mattress seams are signs of a potential bed bug infestation. Both cases should be explicitly described in the notice so that tenants know when to report to the landlord or property manager.
Landlords are also advised to copy the initial passage of the civil code section which includes bed bug appearance and identification, life cycle and reproduction, bedbug bites, common signs and symptoms of a possible bed bug infestation, and a list of informative websites to provide additional information. They’re also encouraged to include additional bed bug prevention policies and precautions that are fit for the needs and conditions of the property and its tenants.
Landlords and tenants should grant access to the units and other areas where there’s a suspected bed bug infestation. They should also have follow-up treatments of the infected units and their surrounding areas until the pest management company confirms that the bed bugs are eliminated.
This law is favorable for most landlords because it gives them legal recourse against uncooperative tenants. Before this law was passed, uncooperative tenants were often the ones who turned to sue landlords for their failure to eliminate the bed bugs in the unit.
This law requires landlords to call a pest control service provider to inspect the affected unit after a guest reports a suspected bed bug infestation. They should also inform the guest or tenant through a bed bug disclosure notice about the pest control operator’s findings. The notice should be sent to the tenants within two business days after they received the inspection report.
They’re required to disclose the presence of an infestation to all of the tenants in the building if it managed to spread to common areas. They should still provide notice even if the source wasn’t the common area itself. The management should also issue the full report to the guests and tenants exactly as they receive it from the pest management company to avoid any kind of misunderstanding about the situation.
The property owner’s notice about the proposed bed bug treatment should also include the specific chemicals used by the pest management company. The management should coordinate with the pest control operator to avoid triggering tenant allergies to certain chemicals during and after the treatment.
Landlords and hotel owners in California are required to provide “habitable” conditions for their tenants and guests. The presence of bed bugs in an apartment building or dwelling unit is considered a breach of the warranty of habitability that’s qualified for a bed bug lawsuit.
It’s also a landlord’s responsibility to pay for the bed bug extermination costs and other expenses because of their negligence. They should also allow a tenant to break their lease agreement because of the bed bug infestation. This is often referred to as constructive eviction.
Keeping a dwelling unit free of bed bugs and other pests should be a joint effort between property owners and the tenants. While most of the responsibility falls on the landlord’s shoulders, tenants also have a responsibility to keep the rental unit clean.
If the landlord managed to prove that the bed bugs were caused by the tenant, they have the right to sue a tenant and ask them to pay the bed bug exterminator for the treatment. Unfortunately, most renters' insurance plans don’t include coverage for bed bug lawsuits or treatments, so they need to pay the costs out of their pockets.
Aside from breaking the lease agreement earlier than the duration period, guests may also sue the hotel owner and ask for compensation for the damages incurred because of the bed bugs. Likewise, owners may also sue tenants and guests for bringing the pests into their building and causing damages.
California landlords and property owners are liable for bed bug injury and infestation if they knew there was a pest infestation in the unit or they failed to follow the right procedure needed to eradicate the problem. Bed bug lawsuits and claims against hotel operators are often based on:
If the guest finds out that their guest house in California has bed bugs, they’re entitled to file a lawsuit and get compensation for the damages. Here’s how guests should handle the case of bed bug infestation in their rental unit:
Owners may also sue guests if they prove that they’re responsible for bringing or causing the bed bug infestation on the property. However, most bedbug infestations go undetected for a long time, which is why gathering evidence to support their claim may be challenging.
Some of the most common admissible evidence that the tenant was at fault for the bed bug infestation in a guest house or other similar properties are:
Depending on who’s at fault in a bed bug lawsuit, the plaintiff may receive compensation for the following damages incurred:
Bed bug infestations are a headache to deal with, which is why they’re best left to the hands of a professional bed bug exterminator like California Bed Bug Exterminators. Our highly trained technicians understand the importance of keeping a guest house up and running.
We use the right tools and techniques to get rid of the bed bugs in the property as quickly and safely as possible. Call us now to book an appointment or schedule regular inspections to keep the guest house bedbug-free for a long time.