Since thousands of years ago, bed bugs have inhabited this planet. They are persistent, multiply quickly, and lay as many as five eggs daily for several weeks. They feed on blood. However, they are not attracted to dirt, but to human and animal scents. Despite their inability to fly, they can quickly move through your walls, ceiling, and floors. That is why, sadly, a sparkling clean home is not enough to keep them away. Bed bug treatments have never been quick or easy. When dealing with such infestations in rental properties, it is important to know who is responsible – you or your landlord.
How does a bed bug infestation occur?
It’s well known that bed bugs spread quickly and easily from one location to another, especially through clothing, furniture, and personal belongings. This makes it easier for them to infest new homes. Moreover, they can travel through wall voids, electrical conduits, and plumbing lines, which is how they spread from one unit to another.
As bed bugs feed on the blood of humans, they are attracted to their scent and often infest a home without the owner’s knowledge. An infestation of bed bugs can be difficult to detect until it has spread vastly enough. This is because they are most active at night when people are asleep and unaware. During the day, bed bugs hide in crevices in the walls, furniture and floors.
Signs of bed bugs infestation
- Itchy, red bites. Bed bug bites are typically small, red and itchy, and can be found in a distinctive line pattern on your skin. While they appear red for people with lighter skin colour, for someone with darker skin, these might look purple and be harder to notice. In addition, some people experience unpleasant reactions, such as intense itching and painful swallowing.
- Musty odour. A musty, unfamiliar odour in your home could signify a bed bug infestation. Such strong smell often signs that a larger one is taking place. The smell is noticeable due to the pheromones they release.
- Blood stains. Blood spots can be found near or on the pillow case, and near the bed’s foot. They are typically small, dark red and round, or in some cases, smeared. They occur during feeding time or if you have been able to crush one while feeding.
- Dark faecal stains. Since they have already digested the blood, the stains you’ll find will no longer be red. These might be rusty or black in colour. They can be found as clusters of tiny spots on your bed, not bigger than one from a marker.
- Shed skins. As bed bugs grow, they shed their skins up to five times before reaching maturity. Usually, they shed their skin in the crevices they hide during the day. After shedding, bed bugs leave behind skin that is usually translucent tan in colour.
- Live bugs. If you check the seams of your mattress, you will probably find live bed bugs or their eggs on there. Other places where you can find them live are cracks or crevices on the frame or headboard or any other areas where they can hide during the day.
Who is responsible for the treatment?
The question most frequently asked by renters is who is responsible for treating bed bugs: them or the landlords? The answer is not straightforward and depends on the timing of the infestation. As bed bugs can easily enter homes undetected, determining the source of the infestation can also be difficult.
A tenant is responsible when
Tenants are responsible for treating bed bugs if they brought the pest from their previous residence. As bed bugs cling to luggage and clothing, they may be transported to the new residence without the tenants’ knowledge.
If the infestation started before the tenants moved in, the landlord is responsible for the treatment. However, proving this can be challenging if the tenants have already lived in the house for a few months. Regardless of the method, renters should tell their landlords how they have detected and eliminated the bugs. That way, the landlord can be certain they have done everything they can.
In the event of bed bug infestation, tenants need to notify the landlord or property management within 24-48 hours. They then need to contact a professional pest control company to inspect the rental property, providing a notice of entry. From then on, residents need to cooperate with the landlord’s extermination efforts and follow their control measures.
If you are currently renting and have thought of getting rental insurance for such occasions, it is important to understand what is covered before purchasing one. You should carefully review its details to avoid any surprises. Most of the time, these types of insurance do not cover bed bug removal or the replacement of personal belongings damaged by them.
A landlord is responsible when
Considering that bed bugs can pop up from anywhere, determining when the infestation started can be difficult. That is why landlords must ensure rental properties are thoroughly inspected before a new resident moves in. It is their responsibility to provide bed bug treatment if there is an infestation prior to the move-in date.
It is the same situation if the new tenants have proof that bed bugs existed before they moved into the property. However, if such is missing, landlords can reduce their liability if they prove they have no prior knowledge about it. In cases where the infestation occurs in multi-unit properties, it is the landlord’s responsibility to eliminate the problem.
Cost of bed bug treatment and who typically bears the cost
Generally, professional bed bug extermination services can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. That entirely depends on the severity of the infestation and the size of the affected area.
As for who bears the cost of bed bug treatment, it depends on the circumstances surrounding the infestation. In rental properties, the responsibility for treatment can fall on either the tenant or the landlord. In some cases, landlords may include bed bug treatment in their regular pest control services, in which case the cost would be included in the rent. However, this depends on the specific agreement between the landlord and tenant.
In any case, it is essential to address a bed bug infestation promptly, as the treatment cost will increase the longer it continues. You should seek professional assistance, as DIY treatments are often ineffective and may spread bed bugs throughout the house.
When getting rid of bed bugs, it is best to call professionals, as they have the proper knowledge and tools to eradicate the infestation thoroughly. Whether you are a tenant or landlord, you can only benefit by using the services of pest control professionals. And making sure the property is safe to live in.