This is how it goes – you rent a new apartment, you move in, and after a few days, you’re waking up with bed bug bites.
After a little bit of inspection, you find out that your new apartment is infested with blood-sucking bed bugs.
If you knew that your new apartment has bed bugs, would you’ve moved in?
You feel cheated. And you feel like shouting your lungs out on your landlord, if not worse.
Then you ask yourself, “My apartment has bed bugs; what are my rights.”
Well, we’ll expose the bitter and cold hard truth about your rights as a tenant of an apartment that has bed bugs.
To save you from the agony of bed bug bites, we’ll tell you signs of bed bug infestation in a new apartment.
It’ll save your blood and a lot of money on bed bug treatment when you’ll rent another apartment in the future.
So, let’s begin with the bitter truth.
States With No Bed Bug Laws Protecting Tenants Rights
A whopping 39 states out of 50 states in the US don’t have bed bug laws protecting tenants.
If you live in any of the 39 states, you must be very cautious before moving into a new apartment.
Because if you find bed bug infestation in your new rented apartment, then you don’t have any rights. You’ll even have to bear the cost of bed bug control.
Some of these states have some bed bug laws, but they focus more on guests of hotels, motels, and resorts than tenants.
Here are the 39 states that don’t have any bed bug laws protecting tenants –
Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and West Virginia.
But, the implied warranty of habitability covers all these states.
Implied warranty of habitability means an implicit guarantee that a landlord of a rental property has to maintain that meets basic living and safety standards before the tenant moves in.
It also states that the landlord will continue to meet them for the occupancy duration.
If you’ve a stubborn landlord who’s not answering your requests for bed bug removal, it’d be best to go down the legal route.
Chances are that you may be compensated for the discomfort and agony you’ve faced because of bed bugs.
We’re not legal advisors. It’d be best if you consult a lawyer for further course of action.
States With The Best Bug Laws Protecting Tenants Rights
In our opinion, out of the 11 states, Texas has the best bed bug laws protecting tenants’ rights.
Texas considers bed bugs as a threat to public health.
That’s why there’s a well-thought-through set of legislation that protects tenants.
Title 5 of the Texas Health And Safety Code categorically mentions that it’s the landlord’s responsibility to get rid of bed bugs if the tenants find them after moving in.
Next on the list is Connecticut.
Both the tenants and the landlord have to follow guidelines if they find bed bugs in the apartment after moving in.
The landlord has to treat the home within 12 days of receiving the information of bed bug infestation.
You, as a tenant, also have the right to supervise the bed bug treatment.
If you’re a Connecticut resident, you can check the legislation here to know more about it.
New Hampshire has bed bug laws that state that the landlord cannot lease out an apartment if it has bed bugs.
Also, the landlord is responsible for periodic inspections for bed bugs.
But there’s a catch.
If you don’t vacate your apartment during the inspection, then the landlord has the right to evict you.
But generally, things don’t take such a wrong turn if both the landlord and the tenant are cooperative.
To know more, check out the New Hampshire Law on bed bugs.
New York has a list of pests and bed bugs in the list that the landlord has to treat before the tenants move in.
For more information, you can check the Housing and Maintenance Code of NY.
How Can The Landlord Prove That You, As A Tenant, Brought In Bed Bugs
Given the higher costs of lawsuits, many landlords keep a record that confirms that there were no bed bugs till the tenants moved in.
To prove that, landlords can show a bed bug inspection report to get when they did a bed bug check-up for their apartment.
In addition to that, landlords can also show photos of the apartment and proof of adherence with the housing sanitation and hygiene guidelines.
These can easily confirm that the apartment has no bed bug infestation till you moved in.
So, it’d be best to keep these things in mind before your take any action.
How Long Does A Landlord Have To Get Rid Of Bed Bugs
The duration varies from state to state.
For example, in NY, the landlord has to treat the apartment for bed bugs within 30 days of reporting by the tenant.
The same is 12 days in Connecticut.
It’d be best if you check with a lawyer regarding this situation.
Can You, As A Tenant, Break The Lease Due To Bed Bugs
You might if you can prove that there were bed bugs before you moved into the apartment.
But this question is best answered by a lawyer.
As different states have different bed bug laws, it’d be best if you consult a lawyer if you’re thinking about breaking the lease because of bed bugs.
How To Check If Your New Apartment Has Bed Bugs Before You Move In
It’s always a best idea to check the new apartment for bed bugs, and other invasive pests like roaches and termites before you move in.
So, this section will tell you what the signs of bed bug infestation in a new apartment are and where to look for them.
It’s illegal for a landlord to rent out an apartment with bed bugs and other pests, even in states that don’t have specific laws protecting tenants from bed bug infestation in a new apartment.
It’s because it violates the implied warranty of habitability.
But you shouldn’t leave it to the law to take care of it. You must do your due diligence before you sign the lease.
And you shouldn’t sign the lease till you’re sure that the apartment you’re moving in is free from pests like bed bugs, roaches, and other invasive pests.
Here’s how to check if your new apartment has bed bugs.
Check The Locale And The Apartment Building In Bed Bug Registry
Bed Bug Registry is a database of user-reported locations infested with bed bugs.
You can check if the new apartment complex has a history of bed bug infestation by inserting the address and running a search on the website.
But keep in mind that this is user-generated information, so there can be some misinformation too.
Speak With The Landlord If The Apartment Has Or Had Problems Of Bed Bugs
There’s no better way than speaking with the landlord directly.
You’ll get a fair idea if the apartment or the apartment complex has any problems with a bed bug infestation.
You can also talk with your future neighbors about the issue.
Ask if any of them has treated their homes for bed bugs.
Bed bugs can quickly travel from one apartment to another, especially in multifamily apartment units.
Do An Inspection Of The Apartment Yourself
You can do a quick check-in at the apartment too.
First of all, know where bed bugs hide in a home.
Bed bugs hide in tiny gaps of mattresses, box springs, couches, headboards, and furniture.
In these places, check for the following –
- Live Bed Bugs – Use a torchlight to focus on these places to check for any live adult bed bugs.
- Transparent Bed Bug Shells – Bed bugs molt, which means they shed theirs. Look for any small whitish translucent shells in these areas.
- Rusty Spots – These are fecal spots of bed bugs. Check for rusty spots on soft furnishings like mattresses and couches.
Plus, don’t forget to check the cracks or gaps in the floors and the walls.
Take your credit card and insert it, as far as it goes, in these cracks. On pulling out, you might observe fecal matter or molted skin on your card.
That’ll be a clear sign of bed bug infestation.
Bed bugs can easily hide in the wooden floors, too, especially when there’s a carpet on the floor.
To check for bed bugs on the floor, use your card the same way as above in the gaps at the floor’s junction and the wall.
You can also check underneath the carpet, around the edges, to look for molted shells or fecal matter of bed bugs.
And finally, don’t forget drawers and closets.
Bed bugs in drawers are quite common. Pull the drawers and check for the signs of bed bugs.
Hiring a bed bug sniffing dog also helps in spotting bed bugs in a new apartment.
The process is relatively quick, and you’ll be sure that if bed bugs in the apartment are present or not.
What If You Move In And After A Few Days You Find Bed Bugs?
If you live in one of the 11 states that have bed bug laws protecting tenant rights, then you can send a written notice to the landlord along with proof of bed bug presence.
The landlord will have a certain number of days from the day of receipt of the notice to treat the apartment against bed bugs.
The number of days to act varies from state to state.
If the landlord doesn’t act within the time, then here’s what you can do –
- Pay the rent to clerks of courts till the landlord treats the apartment for bed bugs.
- Petition the court to make the landlord treat the apartment for bed bugs.
- You have the right to terminate the agreement, stop paying rent, and move out of the apartment.
Unfortunately, 39 states don’t have laws that protect tenants’ rights when they unknowingly move into an apartment with a bed bug infestation.
But the rest of the 11 have strong legislations that tenants can rely on if they move into an apartment with bed bugs.
In this post, we’ve revealed both cases.
Plus, we’ve also revealed the steps you should follow to check for bed bugs before you move into a new apartment.
Following these steps will save you from a lot of bed bug bites and sleepless nights.