If you have a rental property where renters are spending one or more nights, then you may have previously had to deal with the issue of bedbugs. If these disgusting pests appear in one of your units, there may come a debate in which it’s argued whose responsibility it is to deal with these bugs. Is your building unclean enough to attract them, or did the renter bring them in with their own habits?
Whose Responsibility Are the Bedbugs?
Bedbugs are universally hated, but especially by those who rent out overnight spaces to others. A “massive epidemic of bedbug infestations began across the United States in 2016” and “is still ongoing,” so it shouldn’t be a big surprise if these nasty bugs appear. Contrary to popular opinion, they aren’t only attracted to places whose residents have “poor cleaning habits.” They sneak in through other means, coming from a dozen of possible other places, and finding their way into buildings on clothing or other fabrics. For example, years ago, a few apparel stores had to be treated for infestations, and if one were to have shopped there, those bugs could find their way home with an otherwise-clean person.
Put simply, there are a lot of ways that bedbugs might travel into your rental unit. It “isn’t necessarily anyone’s fault–it’s an unfortunate situation that could happen to anyone, and is not necessarily due to neglect or bad behavior.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the fact that the pests are present and that it takes a lot of work to get rid of them completely. Your renter may not even realize that they’re there until the bites, and then the problem has already reached a certain level. After that, they may demand that you handle the issue, putting the blame on the condition of your units. You in return may feel compelled to suggest that it could have been them, bringing in the bugs from some unknown place. You may never learn how they really entered the building, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re there and that they can still spread to other rooms.
If that renter brings the situation to your attention, think of it as a blessing in disguise. After all, you know know that issue exists, and so you can begin to address it and move on. This is something that can happen to any similar space and should just be accepted and dealt with swiftly, rather than arguing about responsibility. Keep in mind that the renter is surely eager to have the problem taken care of, since he or she has to live there, assumedly, and wouldn’t want to under those conditions. Unless you have some kind of evidence, which is unlikely, you will both need to work together to eliminate the pest.
“Chances are, you’ll need to invest in eradicating the bedbug infestation, and extermination costs are normally the responsibility of the landlord, not the tenant.” Even so, they can help in other ways. Since it’s their dwelling (even if rented) that you’ll need to enter, you have to follow the procedure and allotted amount of time of notice before you can intrude. Before that, you should draw up a list of suggestions for them, such as separating and bagging likely-affected clothes, blankets, etc. These items should be laundered before being returning to sealed isolation. You’ll want them to “declutter” as much as possible so that you, and/or your exterminator, don’t have to work through heaps of mess.
There are a lot of other steps, but they will depend on the recommendation by your chosen exterminator. Keep in mind that this one unit may not have been the only one affected, so get in touch with the rest of your renters to inform them of the situation and of precautionary measures that they should take to check for bedbugs. While this situation is playing out, you may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work that you have to do. That’s why we recommend using Budgetrac Property Management Software. Budgetrac makes it easy to juggle all aspects of your work even in the busiest of times. Its functionality is simple enough for anyone to understand, but it also is robust enough to handle anything that you need it to manage. Trust us on this one!