Bed bugs are present in Rockville, Maryland just like they are in every other city in the United States. Tenants in the City of Rockville, which is located in Montgomery County, MD have many rights regarding what they can do when bed bug infestations occur. Whether the bed bug infestation is in a hotel or apartment, both types of properties are required to keep the premises free of infestation when a new guest or tenant comes in. Whitney, LLP’s bed bug lawyers and attorneys have recovered over $10,000,000 for our bed bug clients. Here are some of our results, and here is what our clients say about us. If you are dealing with the issue of bed bugs, and need a bed bug lawyer, call us now at 410 583 8000, or use our online contact form.
Rockville Apartment Complex Bed Bug Lawsuit
In the bed bug lawsuit, our attorneys filed in May 2019 in Montgomery County, Maryland, a father and his teenage daughter were leased a bed bug infested apartment that was promised in the Lease Agreement to be in a “safe, clean and sanitary condition, free of rodents and vermin.” Instead, the pre-existing bed bug infestation not only caused each of them to suffer dozens of intensely itchy and red bed bug bites immediately after moving in, but also uprooted their lives. The father suffered approximately 60 intensely itchy red, raised and welt-like bed bug bites during the approximately ten nights he spent in the Apartment. The daughter suffered approximately 40 intensely itchy red, raised and welt-like bed bug bites in the four nights she spent in the Apartment before leaving it due to the pre-existing infestation. Prior to moving out, the father discarded personal property and furniture including two beds, two mattresses, a couch and chairs, valued at approximately $3,000, in an effort to avoid bringing the infestation from the Apartment with him to his new residence.
Within two days of moving in, the father found multiple bed bugs crawling in the Apartment and immediately reported the bed bugs to the management office. The management office denied there were bed bugs in the Apartment despite Hector Rivera showing them his bites as well as the bed bugs he had caught and put in plastic sandwich bags. Prior to moving into the Apartment, they had never experienced bed bugs.
We are now seeking compensation for their bodily injuries in the form of bed bug bites and intense itching; emotional distress including anxiety, stress and embarrassment; property damage; and breach of the lease. Further, we have alleged that the landlord and owner violated Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act by misrepresenting the apartment as safe, clean and free of vermin, and are seeking payment of our attorney’s fees from them in addition to compensation for our clients.
Suing for a Bed Bugs in Maryland
The bed bug lawyers at Whitney, LLP research the city, county and state codes where bed bug infestations occur and injure our clients. Tenants’ legal rights come from state law, common law, promises made in the lease, and from local laws, such as the county or city code. The Montgomery County Code and the Rockville City Code are where residents in Montgomery County and Rockville should look to see what local statutes require from landlords with respect to insect-free apartments.
In the case we filed, Section 5(c) of the Lease Agreement contains Defendants’ promise to provide the Apartment to its tenants in the following condition: “Landlord covenants that the Premises and all common areas are delivered in a clean, safe and sanitary condition, free of rodents and vermin, and in complete compliance with all applicable laws. Landlord acknowledges that it is responsible for maintenance of the Demised Premises in accordance with all applicable provisions of any federal, state, county or city statute, code, regulation or ordinance . . . [Article] XII of Chapter 18 (Rental Facilities and Landlord-Tenant Relations) of the Rockville City Code, as amended, are incorporated herein as an express warranty of habitability and covenant to repair.”
Article XII, Section 5-286, of Rockville’s City Code adopted the BOCA National Property Maintenance Code, Fifth Edition, 1996, subject to amendments (“NPMC”). Section 307.2 of the NPMC directly addresses infestation in residential dwellings: The owner and/or operator of any structure shall be responsible for extermination within the structure prior to renting, leasing or selling the structure; and Section 307.1 states: “Take proper steps to exterminate for roaches and bed bugs.”
What this means is that the landlord was required to exterminate the apartment before leasing. Because they failed to, our clients were injured and now have legal rights, which we are representing them in.
Common Signs of Bed Bug Infestation
Because a vacant property offers no source of food to bed bugs, it is unlikely that a cursory visual inspection of a property that is infested will detect the presence of bed bugs. That is, a simple “look around,” without more active probing of known bed bug harborages as set out above, is unlikely to reveal the existence of an active infestation.
Certain signs of bed bug infestation, such as live or dead bugs, shed skins, and fecal stains on walls, are easily removed during the normal rental turnover process, which traditionally includes painting of the walls and cleaning/vacuuming of the carpets/floors. These actions remove or cover potentially obvious and visible evidence that might otherwise reveal the existence of an infestation, leaving only concealed evidence that is not detectible simply by “looking around,” such as behind baseboards, under carpet and inside electrical boxes or walls. To find evidence of infestation in such locations requires an adequate knowledge of what to look for, how to look and where to look for bed bugs combined with the use of suitable tools with which to conduct an adequate bed bug inspection. Such tools would include a pry bar, pliers, screwdriver, flashlight and a ladder.
It is highly unlikely that concealed evidence of a bed bug infestation, such as fecal stains, shed skins, carcasses, eggs or live bugs hiding in concealed spaces inside the walls, under the carpet or behind the baseboards, will be discovered during an initial inspection by an incoming tenant who is not suitably trained in proper bed bug inspection techniques. The invasive nature of the inspection required – prying baseboards, pulling back carpet, unscrewing light, outlet plates and other such areas – is something that an untrained person who has never experienced a bed bug infestation will typically and commonly not know about nor be aware of how to conduct such inspections.
Liability of Landlords and Property Managers in Bed Bug Cases
When a landlord is negligent and leases a bed bug infested apartment, their tenants can seek compensation for injuries that are caused by that negligence. Landlords have many duties to their tenants. The breach of these duties include the following: leasing the Apartment with a pre-existing bed bug infestation; failing to assure, prior to leasing the Apartment to Plaintiffs, that the Apartment was free from bed bug infestation; failing to warn Plaintiffs about the presence of bed bugs and history of infestation in the Apartment, thereby preventing Plaintiffs from learning information which would have resulted in them not leasing the Apartment; failing to use due care and to employ reasonable and customary methods of promptly treating and eradicating any and all bed bug infestations in the Apartment, and keeping it free from infestation, prior to and during Plaintiffs’ tenancy; and failing to provide the Apartment in the condition as represented in the Lease Agreement.
Rockville Bed Bug Lawyers Offering Free Consultations.
If you have experienced bed bugs, or are living in an infested apartment, contact the Rockville bed bug attorneys at Whitney, LLP. We have experience helping people with their bed bug situations and recovering significant compensation for bed bug bites, emotional distress from bed bugs, property damage from bed bugs, and other damages throughout Maryland. All consultations are free, and there are no out of pocket costs or expenses. Call us today for your free case evaluation.