Whitney, LLP represents tenants in apartment bed bug cases throughout Maryland, including Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Frederick County and St. Mary’s County. We also handle select matters in other states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.
Consultations are always free. Call Us Now at (410) 583-8000, or use our Quick Contact Form to tell us about your potential apartment bed bug infestation case or to ask a question about bed bugs and your legal rights.
We file lawsuits in many of our cases and have recovered many of the largest bed bug verdicts in the United States. Some of our bed bug case settlements are also listed on the same page. We have recovered over $7 million in settlements and judgments for our bed bug clients, and are often referred cases by other attorneys.
Lawsuits for Infested Apartments
Maryland law requires residential apartments to be free of all insect infestations, including bed bugs, at the time the lease begins. When landlords lease a bed bug infested apartment, the tenant and their family suffer bed bug bites, mental and emotional distress, property damage and other economic damages. We have successfully recovered compensation for all of these damages and have helped many clients break the lease due to a bed bug infestation.
In other apartment bed bug cases, a tenant will begin to be bitten long after moving in, and the landlord fails to exterminate the infestation. When landlords have a duty to fix the infestation and do not do it promptly, they are negligent, and the injured person can seek compensation for their injuries.
What Can I Do About My Infested Apartment?
Call the experienced bed bug attorneys at Whitney, LLP. You have legal rights that allow you to seek compensation for the bodily injury, emotional distress, property damage and lost wages that a bed bug infestation caused you to suffer. We have successfully resolved many cases involving tenants being bitten by bed bugs in apartments. Whether you just moved in, or have been in the apartment for a long time, we have experience winning these claims.
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide In Apartments?
There are many places for bed bugs to hide, and if the exterminator is not properly trained, the bugs are safe. Bed bugs hide in mattresses, boxsprings, bed frame, headboards, couches, chairs. nightstands, dressers, in electronics, in outlets and in the walls.
Who Pays for Extermination, the Landlord or Tenant?
A city or county law will set forth whether it is the landlord or the tenant’s responsibility for paying for extermination. These local laws vary by jurisdiction, with some laws providing more protection than others for tenants.
Bed Bugs – Legal Rights of Tenants in an Infested Apartment
A. Impact On Lease
When living in a multi-unit apartment infested with bed bugs, tenants want to know if they can be relieved of paying rent. Under Maryland law, a landlord is obligated to correct defects and conditions which constitute a serious and substantial threat to the life, health or safety of occupants. If after a reasonable time a landlord refuses or fails to correct such conditions, the tenant has two options: (1) the tenant may bring an action of rent escrow to pay rent into escrow, or (2) the tenant may refuse to pay rent and raise the existence of the asserted conditions as an affirmative defense to an action for rent otherwise due under the lease.
Some jurisdictions have enacted local codes to provide tenants with safeguards for obtaining alleviation of serious conditions which, if not promptly corrected, constitute a substantial threat to the health of the occupants. Baltimore County, for instance, has adopted a “Livability Code” which establishes minimum maintenance standards for clean, safe and sanitary residential dwelling units, including freedom from infestation. In Baltimore County, a structure must be kept free from infestation from insects, and where the infestation is found, the landlord is obligated to promptly control and eliminate the insects.
Generally speaking, owners of premises have a duty to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition as well as a duty to warn of any unsafe conditions. Insect or other pest-related infestation is by and large considered “unsafe,” being both unsanitary and potentially harmful.
Premises liability claims typically focus on a negligence theory; that is, by allowing the condition to exist or failing to warn of the associated danger, owners of the premises at issue have failed to meet the standard created by the duty of care that they owe to their tenants. A claimant can recover on this theory when an owner’s breach of its duty leads to some injury on the claimant’s part – whether it is to their person or to their property.
Recent cases indicate that to the extent that claimants can demonstrate actual losses related to infestation, they will be awarded compensatory damages. Recovery may also be sought for the costs for physical harm caused by the bites, scarring, mental distress, and loss of consortium for married couples, as well as replacing personal property that was damaged or needed to be disposed of along the way.
Under the laws of most states, punitive damages are a mechanism by which to address the willful and wanton misconduct of a person or entity. In essence, they comprise some appreciable amount beyond that needed to address a claimant’s actual losses (which are covered by compensatory damages) as a measure of punishment for the defendant’s outrageous conduct and a means of deterring such activity in the future.
Documenting the problem and any resulting loss is of critical importance for evidentiary purposes. Should a claimant’s case be strong enough to warrant recovery, the court will require sufficient proof of the extent of the damage suffered in order to aid in the determination of what should be awarded. Collecting bugs and photographing their presence on furniture or personal possessions as well as evidence of bite marks is ideal.
C. Breach of the Implied Warranty of Habitability
Similar to the duty associated with a negligence-based theory, there is another legal doctrine that focuses on a property owner’s responsibility to maintain its property in a certain condition: the implied warranty of habitability. The basic premise behind the doctrine is that a landlord warrants that the dwelling at issue is fit for its intended purpose – that is, it sets a minimum standard by requiring that the areas in which its tenants will live are suitable for human inhabitance. Depending on conditions, the presence of bed bugs may diminish the habitability of a dwelling or render it altogether uninhabitable.
D. Consumer Protection Act
If a new tenant moves into an undisclosed bed bug infestation, there is a right to receive damages under Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act.
Contact Whitney, LLP for Your Free Bed Bug Consultation.
If you or a friend or family member is dealing with bed bugs in an apartment, contact us to discuss your legal rights and recovering compensation. We have successfully represented hundreds of tenants and recovered compensation for them in cases against apartments owners and property managers. Consultations are always free. Call us now at (410) 583-8000, or use our contact form.