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Who Pays for Bed Bug Treatment in CA, Landlord or Tenant?

Bed bug problems happen even in the best of apartments. These pests travel from different places by latching onto clothes and suitcases. They’re extremely difficult to spot at first and eliminate for good, which is why paying for bed bug extermination services is the best solution.

So who pays for bed bug treatments in a rental unit in California? Like most states in the US, it’s the landlord’s duty to pay for the bed bug extermination costs in an infested rental unit since they failed to provide “habitable” housing conditions for the tenants. But if the renter introduced or caused the bedbug infestation, they have to shoulder the entire cost of extermination.

Bedbug Treatment Responsibilities of a California Landlord

According to the 2018 Bugs Without Borders Survey by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the majority of pest management professionals in the country received about 89% of the bed bug infestation reports in apartments and condominiums. Since bed bugs are a huge problem in California, the state has created laws that specifically address this kind of issue in rental units like apartments.

Like with other pest problems, landlords are required by California law to pay for the bed bug extermination efforts in the rental unit — unless the bed bugs were caused by the tenant. However, it’s difficult to pinpoint the source of bed bugs in a rental property, which makes bed bugs a “legal gray area” in some situations.

For you to find out who’s responsible for paying for the bed bug treatment in your apartment or a rental unit, here are certain conditions and obligations that both landlords and tenants must meet:

Landlord’s Obligations

The California bed bug law requires a landlord or property manager to provide “habitable conditions” to their tenants (also known as the “implied warranty of habitability”). One of the things that make an apartment habitable is if it’s free of pests like rats, mice, or bed bugs that might cause physical harm or emotional distress.

As landlords, they must ensure that all rental units are “habitable” before a new tenant moves in. They’re also not allowed to show a unit to the prospective tenant if they know that the unit is infested with bed bugs. Property owners are also required to educate their existing tenants about all the important information regarding bed bugs, including their appearance, life cycle, signs of infestation, and more.

If the tenant complains about a possible bed bug infestation in their dwelling unit, the landlord should immediately contact a pest control operator to inspect the affected units. Landlords are typically given about 30 days to fix the problem before it’s considered a breach of the implied warranty of habitability, but bed bug infestations are a special case since they spread quickly.

Aside from the extermination costs, landlords are also required to shoulder the temporary relocation costs, as well as the cost of items that were destroyed because of the pest infestation.

Tenant’s Obligations

The state of California believes that getting rid of the bed bugs is a joint effort between the renter and the landlord. As much as the property owner is responsible for providing habitable conditions, the tenants should also do their part by keeping the unit clean.

Tenants are required to report the suspected infestation in about 24 to 48 hours after discovering it. They’re also expected to cooperate with the property owner’s extermination efforts and follow the control measure that the landlords put in place.

However, some cases of bed bug infestations are caused by tenants themselves — whether it was intentionally or accidentally. In such situations, they’re expected to shoulder the full cost of the extermination costs of the unit as well as the adjacent units that were affected. Most renters insurance plans don’t cover the costs of bed bug eradication or repair of damages caused by these pests, so tenants need to cover everything out of their pockets.

Illegal Retaliation by the Landlord

According to California’s Civil Code 1942.5, landlords are prohibited from retaliating against one of their tenants who reported a possible bed bug infestation in the property. If the tenant gives notice about a suspected bed bug infestation, the property owner is required to call extermination services. They’re not allowed to evict the existing tenant for any reason, such as nonpayment of rent until the insect infestation has been solved.

What to Do About an Unresponsive Landlord

Landlords are usually given until 30 days to fix the infestation if it’s caused by other pests, but bed bugs require immediate attention because they rapidly get worse. It’s part of the landlord’s duty to call a professional bed bug exterminator and release a bed bug notice as soon as possible.

If the property manager failed to take care of a major bed bug problem, a California tenant has the following options:

  • Withhold rent until the infestation has been solved
  • Call extermination services and deduct the costs of bed bug extermination from the monthly rent
  • Break the lease and move out early
  • Sue the landlord for any harm to the tenant, including the extermination costs or replacement of personal items damaged because of the infestation
  • For a new tenant who discovered the bed bugs on the same day they moved in, they have the option to back out of the rental agreement and get the security deposit back.

But before you take any of these steps, it’s important to consult the local housing resource or an attorney first to find out the landlord’s responsibility and local bed bug law states. Acting rashly might lead to serious consequences like owing rent to the unit even after moving out or terminated tenancy because of withholding rent for the wrong reasons.

A Landlord’s Guide to Keeping Bed Bugs off the Rental Units

Bed bugs are difficult to eliminate, which is why it’s better to prevent infestations from happening in the first place. The best way to avoid infestations is to keep the apartment complex clean, but it’s still not a foolproof plan. Bed bugs may come into the property along with the tenant’s luggage, clothing, or furniture.

Here are some of the ways that landlords minimize the risk of bed bug infestations in their properties:

  • Educate the tenants about bed bugs. California’s bed bug disclosure code requires landlords to provide pamphlets or brochures to the tenants which include everything they need to know about bed bug identification and appearance, bed bug bites, bed bug lesions, signs of infestation, and other important information.
  • Call a professional pest control company to inspect a vacant unit for bed bugs before showing it or renting it out. Landlords may also ask for a written report that says the unit is clean.
  • Respond to bed bug complaints immediately.
  • Tell the tenants about the bed bugs found in the property after an inspection by bed bug control professionals. Other tenants in the property should also be notified about the bed bug infestation if it happened in a common area.

Keep Your Property Bedbug-Free With California Bed Bug Exterminators

Although landlords may take a few steps to contain the bed bug infestation for some time, this kind of pest problem is best left to the hands of a pest management professional like California Bed Bug Exterminators. Our team of highly trained technicians has the right tools and knowledge to eliminate the bed bugs on the property and keep them from coming back in a long time.

Trust California Bed Bug Exterminators now to handle quick and effective bed bug treatments that are safe both for humans and the environment. Call us now to book an appointment.