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Tenant brought bed bugs into house - Landlord Forum thread 235002

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Tenant brought bed bugs into house by Sleepless in New York (NY) on September 20, 2011 @18:18

I have a tenant that rented a room in their apartment out (with our permission) to a couple who brought bed bugs into the house. (They were told they would be held responsible for any damages caused by those people.)

A couple of months later, the tenant told us they had fleas and/or ticks and asked us for flea/tick spray to get rid of them. Then a few weeks later, they said they had roaches. So my husband and I went out and bought roach fumigators. Well - the tenants bombed their apartment about 4 weekends in a row ...only to admit after that that they actually had a bed bug infestation. Once we learned that was the true issue, I did some research and found that 1 - using roach fumigators causes the bed bug infestation to spread and 2 - Bed bugs can hibernate for up to 7 months before becoming active again. We bought some bed bug pesticide and treated the infestation (in their apartment as well as ours as we shortly afterwards discovered we were having an issue as well). It has only been 2 months since we got rid of them (or at least we think we are rid of them .. not 100% sure though .. since they can hibernate so long) and the tenant advised us 2 weeks ago that they are moving out. Our agreement was that the would be held responsible for damages outside of normal wear and tear.

Would this be outside normal wear and tear?? I want to hold their security deposit for another 5 months until we are SURE there are no more bedbugs because 1. They blatantly lied to us MULTIPLE times about the type of problem they were having saying they were one type of insect when they were really bedbugs (giving them time to multiply) and bombing only helped spread them. 2 - We told them they needed to get rid of the clutter so the bugs had less places to hide (they are pack rats and did not reduce the clutter at all) and 3. They were told to apply the pesticide we provided but DO NOT change their routines (which they ignored and stopped using the living room...which can cause the bugs to hibernate as they no longer detect the carbon dioxide that is expelled). Can we do this? If the bed bugs return, we will have to have an exterminator come in and treat the problem (the estimate we got was over $2000 for this). Are we responsible to foot the entire bill for this??? We already dished out a few hundred dollars on the roach fumigators and bed bug pesticide we already purchased. Shouldn't they be held liable for some of the expense?
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Re: Tenant brought bed bugs into house by Eric (MN) on September 20, 2011 @18:40 [ Reply ]
A SFH it is generally the tenant that is responsible. But, as a LL, you want teh bugs out. Buy some Phantom and spray monthly for at least 4 months.
Re: Tenant brought bed bugs into house by Katiekate (New York) on September 20, 2011 @18:49 [ Reply ]
Sorry to tell you, but this is your responsibility to deal with.

There isn't any way for ANYONE to be totally certain that they did or didn't bring bedbugs in. It could have been you.
5 star hotels have had to close to get rid of bedbugs...even the finest clothiers have had problems.

So.. recent court cases in New York and New Jersey have settled this..the Landlord in responsible to pay for treatment.

You could try to get the cost back from the tenant...but..I think if it goes to a judge, you will lose. especially if that judge is up on recent case law.

The first time you had any reason to think there were bedbugs you should have gotten an exterminator right then..done this the right way and gotten this over with.

So.. when you talk with the exterminator..he is going to tell you the truly PAINFUL process you will go thru. Believe me, the cost of the exterminator is not going to be your biggest headache.

I make all tenants sign a bedbug addendum and treatment agreement. Once they read thru that..they will move heaven and earth to avoid getting them. If I am forced to stay in a luggage stays in the bathtub and the clothing I wear while in the room is bagged separately and kept sealed until I can wash it on HOT and dry it on HOT.
You can never be sure you didn't pick them up on the bus or even in a movie theater (that has happened recently). This isn't about "dirty" tenants .. bedbugs don't care what your social status is.
Re: Tenant brought bed bugs into house by Anonymous on September 20, 2011 @19:03 [ Reply ]
Unless it is a SFH home you are responsible for pest control. Especially in New York. There is case for this. Regardless you cannot hold their security deposit for 5 months after they move out. Most states say 30 days. New York says reasonable. But most likely when they sue you in month 2 if you have no expenses but the bed bugs might come back you will lose. That is if you plan to hold the SFH vacant for those 5 months.
If you don't forget it. If it is a SFH you can charge the security with what you have spent if you have recipts.
Re: Tenant brought bed bugs into house by Jake on September 20, 2011 @20:13 [ Reply ]
What does your lease say about pest?
Re: Tenant brought bed bugs into house by will OH on September 20, 2011 @22:35 [ Reply ]
Side note:

For roaches, don't bomb. That only forces them outside or into other units. Once the bomb evaporates, presto, they come right back.

Use combat or max force gel. Like ant bait, it draws them to poison and eliminates the problem. Another great thing is that since it is bait, you can explain to your filthy tenants who created the problem in the first place that the unit needs to be spotless in order for the stuff to work. You win twice: roach-free unit in a few wks, and tenants with an incentive to keep their place clean.

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