Bed bug infestation is a serious problem in Maryland, and especially for the residents of Baltimore, due to the city’s high concentration of apartment buildings and other multi-unit structures. While infestations can affect all types of residential dwellings, apartments are exceptionally vulnerable because bed bugs can rapidly spread between units and tenants, breeding and multiplying as the population expands throughout the property.
Bed bugs can cause infection, spread diseases like Hepatitis B, and trigger serious or even life-threatening allergic reactions resulting in anaphylactic shock. In addition to the many medical problems caused by bed bug bites and infestations, other negative effects can include costly property damage and replacement, lasting emotional distress, and time missed from work and/or school while the victim is in recovery.
This is a major health concern. Bites often result in scarring, infections, and allergic reactions, to say nothing of property damage and emotional trauma. Tenants of Baltimore apartments, including Section 8, or HUD properties, and other types of rental properties, are often stuck for weeks or months in an infested apartment while pest control treatments are delayed. Oftentimes landlords refuse to provide treatment, or tell their tenants that renters are responsible for handling extermination. However, Baltimore City has addressed responsibility for bed bug extermination in its local laws.
If you or a family member has been exposed to bed bugs, you should know your rights and responsibilities. This informal guide to Baltimore’s building code can help point you in the right direction, but you should also consider consulting with an experienced apartment bed bug lawyer, such as the attorneys of Whitney, LLP. We will protect your legal rights as a tenant, and can fight for compensation for any injuries or financial losses you experienced due to an infestation. To set up a free, completely confidential case evaluation, call our law offices right away at (410) 583-8000.
My Apartment Has Bed Bugs, Is My Landlord Responsible for Treatment?
In the Baltimore City Code of Public Local Laws, there is an implied warranty that the premise (property) is fit for human habitation. This warranty continues throughout the duration of the tenancy, and provides that the dwelling unit should not have any condition endangering the life, health and safety of the tenants that involve vermin or rodent infestation. Stated more simply, bed bugs are one condition that should never be present in an apartment.
Unfortunately, landlords and property managers often attempt to evade taking financial responsibility for eradicating infestations – even when city code clearly indicates that they should. By familiarizing yourself with local health and building codes, you can gain a clearer understanding of your rights as a renter. Toward that end, we have compiled some of the relevant codes that set forth responsibility for exterminating bed bugs in Baltimore City.
Please note that these codes may have changed since we posted them, and we do not guarantee their accuracy. Before relying on these codes, we recommend contacting an attorney.
- IPMC §307.7 Pest Control – The interior of every building must be kept free of infestation by insects, rodents and other pests.
- IPMC §308.4 Pest Control (Single Unit Building) – An occupant of a single-unit building is responsible for extermination if the occupant’s unit is the only one affected.
- IPMC §308. 5 Pest Control (Multi-unit Building) – An occupant of a multi-unit building [e.g. an apartment building] is responsible for extermination if the occupant’s unit is the only one affected.
In other words, a Baltimore tenant is not responsible for pest extermination unless his or her unit is the only one that has bed bugs. Talk to the other renters who live in your building. If another tenant has also noticed bed bugs, whether in their apartment or elsewhere in or on the premises, the landlord may be responsible for the costs of providing treatment. Once again, we strongly recommend discussing the details of your situation with an experienced attorney.
BALTIMORE COUNTY CODE AND LANDLORD LIABILITY FOR BED BUGS
Bed bugs are notoriously difficult and costly to exterminate, and the burden of legal responsibility for pest control and its accompanying costs can depend on several factors. Responsibility for treating infestations is outlined by the Baltimore County Code, pertinent sections of which we have summarized below.
Please be advised that the following code section summaries have been provided to serve as a general resource for renters, and are not intended to substitute legal advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy of these codes. Victims of bed bug infestations are advised to contact one of our bed bug lawyers for up-to-date advice on legal issues such as landlord liability for bed bug infestations.
That being said, the Baltimore County Code sets forth the following statutes:
- Premises (properties) must be maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary condition, free of infestation by pests like bed bugs and rodents. (§ 35-5-207)
- Residential structures must be kept free of infestation by pests and rodents. If an infestation is discovered, it must be promptly exterminated in a manner which does not harm or endanger human health. (§ 35-5-209(e))
- The property owner must exterminate any infestations in the building or elsewhere on the premises prior to renting or leasing any units. (§ 35-5-206(e)(1))
- If the structure only contains one housing unit, the tenant is responsible for exterminating pests in the building or on the property. (§ 35-5-206(e)(2))
- If a structure has two or more units, the owner is responsible for exterminating pests in or on the property. The only exception is when the infestation is “caused by a failure of the tenant to take reasonable action to prevent the infestation within the housing unit.” (§ 35-5-206(e)(3))
Who to Contact About Baltimore Bed Bug Infestations
If your home is infested with bed bugs, and the landlord is not taking action, make a report and call the Baltimore City Health Department by calling (410) 396-0176.
We also recommend calling a Housing Inspection Office to report bed bugs in your apartment or rental property. The phone numbers and addresses for various Baltimore Housing Inspection Area Offices are listed in the table below:
|Central||100||417 E. Fayette St. 21202||(410) 396-4161|
|Southeast||200||3411 Bank Street, 21224||(410) 545-6521|
|Eastern||300||3411 Bank Street, 21224||(410) 545-6521|
|Northeast||400||5225 York Road 21212||(410) 545-7550|
|Northern||500||5225 York Road, 21212||(410) 545-7550|
|Northwest||600||3939 Reisterstown Road, 21215||(410) 396-7736|
|Western||700||3939 Reisterstown Road, 21215||(410) 396-7736|
|Southwest||800||501 Athol Ave 21229||(410) 545-1851|
|Southern||900||501 Athol Ave 21229||(410) 545-1851|
BALTIMORE COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT CONTACT INFORMATION For Bed Bugs
Renters and tenants who are dealing with bed bugs should call the Department of Health and Code Enforcement to report the infestation, especially in cases where the landlord refuses to provide assistance in accordance with county property code. Contact numbers for useful Baltimore County government offices are provided below:
- Baltimore County Department of Health – (410) 887-2773
- Baltimore County Code Enforcement – (410) 887-3351
You can also visit the Baltimore County Department of Health online for additional information and resources.
If You Got Bed Bugs at a Hotel or at Your Apartment in Baltimore, Our Lawyers Can Help
If you or someone in your family was bitten by bed bugs, the responsible party may be liable for damages. If you believe a landlord acted negligently with regard to an infestation in your apartment or home, contact one of our attorneys. You may be able to recover compensation for medical expenses, income loss, and property damage.
However, it is very important to act rapidly. If you delay for too long, you could lose your legal recourse. The statute of limitations strictly limits the amount of time plaintiffs have in which to file claims, so call the bed bug litigation lawyers of Whitney, LLP right away at (410) 316-6762 to set up a free, confidential case evaluation. While our law offices are located in Towson, we handle cases arising throughout Baltimore County, including but not limited to White Marsh, Middle River, Essex, Catonsville, Lochearn, Rosedale, Randallstown, and Pikesville.
If you or one of your loved ones suffered injuries or sickness after being exposed to bed bugs, or you believe your landlord is negligent in his or her handling of an infestation, you may be entitled to financial compensation for injuries, to cover your medical bills and lost wages, and restore the financial costs of replacing property.
For a free and confidential legal consultation with an experienced bed bug litigation attorney, call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000. While our law offices are located in Towson, we are prepared to handle cases arising throughout Baltimore City and the surrounding metropolitan area.