Bed Bug Blues—Who’s Responsible? Landlord or Tenant?

Bed bugs are a commonplace nuisance that can harm our health and ruin the furniture. Worse still, it’s difficult to counter and outpace their growth. In fact, what’s alarming is that bed bugs have seemingly returned because they’ve adapted to our preventative measures. They also seem to thrive in humid environments, which have made them a greater nuisance in places like Houston.

If you’ve stumbled upon a bed bug and fear an infestation, legal dilemmas are in your future. However, before you begin figuring out who’s responsible, get a bed bug inspection, and if you have an infestation, get it treated. Here’s more about the steps to ascertaining responsibility.

Bed Bug Inspection

If you notice bed bugs, the first thing to do is contact your landlord; addressing the infestation should be a top priority. With that done, a pest inspection should be scheduled. This process is critical to determining who’s responsible for the infestation. Pest inspectors will peruse the residence to trace the source of the infestation. The infestation’s source and your state’s laws will determine who’s responsible for the infestation.

Paying for the Treatment

The payment amount depends on the kind of treatment and who pays depends on who’s responsible. There are two popular kinds of treatments: heat and chemical. Heat treatments involve heating the residence to above 118° Fahrenheit, as bed bugs can’t survive at temperatures above this. Chemical treatments involve using insecticides in specific areas, such as mattresses and drawers.

To figure out who’s going to pay for the treatment, you’ll need to establish responsibility, which can be difficult. For instance, tracing the infestation may not yield anything definitive about its source. If you signed a bed bug addendum before the infestation, you’d considered responsible for the infestation, legally speaking. If you can’t establish responsibility, you can also share the costs.

Uncooperative Landlords

In Texas, your landlord needs to address the bed bug issue within seven days of you informing them about the infestation. If they don’t, you can sue them and force them to address the infestation and cover your legal and rent expenses.

Additionally, if your landlord retaliates against your complaints by evicting you or threatening to do so, there are legal remedies available. Since a bed bug infestation negatively affects your health, it’s legal to complain about it and illegal to retaliate against the complaint.

If you’re facing bed bug issues in your residence, and your landlord isn’t cooperating, contact us at Mike Massey Law for a free, ten-minute consult. Bed bugs can cause personal injury and property damage, so someone can be held liable for the infestation. We offer our legal services in Houston, Travis, Austin, and Harris County. Our services include probate, estate planning, personal injury, and more.

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Mike Massey JD, MBA, MPA just might be the 195th most interesting person in Texas. He has 4 college degrees and he's working on a 5th:  BBS Accounting; MPA Master's in Professional Accounting; JD Law Degree; MBA Master's in Business Administration; BBS in Biblical Studies (in progress).

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