Is The Landlord or Tenant Responsible For Bed Bug Pest Control?

October 30, 2014 – Who has to pay for bed bug pest control services?  The answer depends on the local county or city laws and the facts of each specific situation.  The local laws can take into account variables such as whether the infested rental unit is a townhouse, single family home, or an apartment in an apartment building.  The laws can also take into account whether the infestation in question is the only reported infestation in the building, whether the infestation was present at the time of move-in, and whether the tenant has put the landlord on notice of the infestation.

We have had cases where the landlord has attempted to shift the cost of pest control onto the tenant in violation of the local laws.  These attempts are often made by way of a “Bed Bug Addendum” in the lease or a separate document that states something to the effect of “The tenant has inspected the apartment, found it to be clean, and agrees that it is free from all pests at the time possession is taken.”   Attempts at fee shifting that are contrary to local laws are in violation of public policy, are unenforceable, and are often violations of consumer protection laws.

Unfortunately, tenants are often not aware of their rights and/or are afraid to challenge the landlord for fear of retaliatory eviction.  Fortunately, many states, including Maryland, have laws that protect against retaliatory action and protect tenants who make complaints.  If you have a questions about whether you have the burden of paying for extermination, or if you have already paid and want to know if you can recover the fee you paid, please call for a legal consultation.


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