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Dealing with Bed Bugs in Your Rentals

316 views January 11, 2024 Karina Jugo 3

While no property manager or landlord likes dealing with pests, mice, termites, cockroaches, and bedbugs did not get the memo. At some point in your career, it stands to reason that you may find yourself dealing with one of these common pests. However, there is new hope on the horizon in the battle against bedbugs.

What causes a bedbug infestation?

Many people assume that a bed bug infestation is the result of poor hygiene, but that’s not necessarily true. Any property can become infested, and according to the CDC, they’ve been found everywhere, from 5-star hotels and resorts to developing countries. It’s not dirtiness that attracts them—it’s blood, and blood is something everyone has.

Though the infestations occur predominantly where people sleep, they can be a nightmare to get rid of. While the bugs hide primarily in the seams of mattresses and box springs, they also nestle in cracks, behind wallpaper, and in other objects in a room. Though they’re not shown to spread disease, they’re certainly not guests you want in your properties. Up until recently, getting rid of them was a difficult and laborious task.

A Pill Could Just Be the Answer

A bedbug infestation in a rental is a problem for both the landlord and the renter. One of the biggest issues to them is that they seem almost impervious to pesticide and they can live for up to a year with no food.

Stromectol or Ivermectin is typically used to treat river blindness and elephantiasis caused by worm parasites. However, it was involved in a promising new study that indicates that it’s also extremely effective against bedbugs. In a 2012 study, John Sheele, an ER physician with Eastern Virginia Medical School showed a great deal of potential in the use of ivermectin for the eradication of bed bugs, when used alongside other more conventional measures.

He tested the drug, also known as Mectizan, outside of the US on himself and three others though five bed bug blood meals. The group let several bed bugs feed on them both before and after taking the medication. Sheele found that after 3 hours of a feed on blood that had ivermectin in it, bed bugs fell ill and died.

Ultimately, his study showed that 42% of the adult bed bugs died within 54 hours of the group taking the drug. It also appeared to cause problems for the nymphs to shed their exoskeleton, preventing them from further developing into adult bed bugs.

Ivermectin also appears to be effective on other common pests: “Ivermectin is effective against a broad range of insects — body lice, head lice, scabies. What I’d like to be able to do is a real-world experiment where we find people who have bed bugs, treat them with the regimen and see does it get rid of their infestation,” Sheele said.

State Efforts on Bed Bug Control

While recent innovations in the medical science of dealing with bedbugs have been promising, some states are enacting laws to help the issue, as well. A number of resources have been provided to help people with this, from Local Resources for Bed Bug Assistance, to the new laws about inspection and remediation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 20 states now have laws on the books in respect to bed bugs.

New Hampshire is one such state doing something about this growing issue. Though the state is not one of the top ten cities dealing with this problem, they’re handling it in a proactive way. Key provisions in the law involve responsibilities to landlords to not only inspect premises for bedbugs, but also to remediation of the infestation. This means that effective steps to eliminate the pests have to be taken within 60 days.

This law also gives landlords the right to make an emergency entry for repairs. To qualify, the landlord has to enter the premises within 72 hours of notice that bedbugs are or may be a problem. Tenants are not permitted to willfully refuse landlord’s entry in these cases.

If a tenant reports the issue, landlords will have to respond to that within 7 days or face penalties. This law does specify that the landlord must handle the cost of eliminating the infestation but steps may be taken to recoup the losses if it can be proven that the tenant caused the infestation.

bedbug infestation

To know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to these pesky critters, here’s a general overview of bed bug control legislation in most US states:

  1. Landlord Responsibilities: Some states may require landlords to be responsible for maintaining a pest-free living environment, including bed bug control. Landlords might be required to address bed bug infestations and cover the costs of extermination in rental properties.
  2. Tenant Responsibilities: In other states, tenants might be responsible for maintaining the property’s cleanliness and preventing bed bug infestations. They may need to report any issues promptly and take steps to prevent bed bugs from spreading.
  3. Disclosure Requirements: Several states may have disclosure laws that mandate landlords to inform prospective tenants about any prior history of bed bug infestations on the property.
  4. Professional Extermination: Some states may specify that bed bug extermination should be carried out by licensed pest control professionals.
  5. Entry Requirements: Laws may outline specific procedures for landlords to enter a rental property to inspect or treat for bed bugs, protecting the tenant’s privacy and rights.
  6. Retaliation Protections: Certain states may have laws that protect tenants from retaliation by landlords if they report bed bug infestations or assert their rights regarding bed bug control.
  7. Lease Provisions: State laws may impact the language and validity of certain lease clauses related to bed bug control, such as provisions that waive landlord responsibilities or limit tenant remedies.

Other Helpful Resources

Housing codes have also been updated in light of this, though it simply insures that bedbug protections and remediations are not seen as less strict than other insect issues. For more in-depth information on dealing with bedbugs in your rental property, check out this EPA Guide specifically designed for landlords. It even includes a brochure you can give out to your tenants!

Authors

  • Karina Jugo

    Karina Jugo is a content administrator at RentPost who works directly with real estate and property management experts to create resources and guides for property managers. She has more than 15 years of experience in content research and writing for various industries.

  • Jacob Thomason

    Jacob Thomason is the CEO and co-founder of RentPost, software platform providing property managers, landlord or owners with the tools necessary for property management. Jacob is a software entrepreneur with with a vast array of expertise ranging from business concept design to software architecture and development. He is running RentPost for more than 14 years and helping property managers and property owners.

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