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Bed Bugs: Is landlord or tenant responsible?

Bed Bugs: Is landlord or tenant responsible

"Night, night, sleep tight, make sure the bed bugs don't bite." It's one of those whimsical bedtime farewells guaranteed to give an over-imaginative child bad dreams. But bed bugs can be a nightmare for grownups too. And when they pop up in a rental property, or any home come to that, they're a horrible problem to have.


What are bed bugs?


The bugs are tiny insects which live, unsurprisingly, in beds, but clothing and furniture can also attract them. Signs of a bed bug infestation are small bites on the body and spots of blood on bedding. Thankfully a mild steroid cream can treat bites, although they can disappear on their own after a few days.


The good(ish) news is that bed bugs don't cause too many health issues, though their bites can cause itchiness. But it's just the fact that they're there which grosses most people out. One thing is certain though, if a bed bug infestation occurs, it needs sorting out. But whose responsibility is it to foot the bill?


Who needs to act?


So, tenant or landlord, who is responsible for getting rid of bed bugs? It very much depends when the little critters arrive.


The landlord is responsible for the condition of the property, this includes it being free from pests and vermin. It is recommended that the landlord should check for infestations before every tenancy. They should resolve any problems with bugs or pests before the tenant moves in.


Equally the landlord is responsible for maintenance. This includes keeping the property in good repair to prevent easy access for vermin. But bed bugs are different to an infestation of mice for example. The tenant can carry them into the property on bedding and clothing, bring them in a suitcase coming back from holiday or they can breed in unhygienic conditions.


If the tenant introduces the bed bugs to the property, they could be responsible for dealing with them. I say 'could' because it's very difficult to prove who is at fault when bed bugs appear. It may be that the landlord and tenant have to work together to eliminate the problem.


However, if the tenant believes the landlord is at fault but they won’t rectify the problem, tenants can contact their council's environmental health team.


Getting rid of bed bugs


As with any pest infestation the advice here is to always call in the professionals. Pest extermination companies know exactly how to deal with any infestation. And they will treat the problem faster and more efficiently than either the tenant or the landlord could. This is because bed bugs can be resistant to the insecticides available to the public. Professional pest controllers will know how to quickly get rid of the pests.


Preventing bed bugs


Assuming the property is clear from bed bugs the tenant can take some simple steps to ensure they don't reappear. Regular vacuuming and cleaning along with keeping the bedroom clutter free should prevent any bugs from invading the bed. But tenants should also take care to inspect any pre-used furniture they buy to ensure bed bugs haven't already taken up residence.


The rules have changed. How much can a landlord ask a tenant to pay as a security deposit? Use our free calculator to find out.

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