By Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire
An increasingly problem for renters in Pennsylvania is the issue of bed bugs. Bed bugs, however, are becoming a serious a problem for landords as well, especially given a recent report published in the Journal of Economic Entomology by researchers at Ohio State University. The study focused on ineffective treatments for bed bugs.
In Pennsylvania, tenants are protected by the Implied Warranty of Habitability, which guarantees “at a minimum . . . the premises must be safe and sanitary.” Pugh v. Holmes, 384 A.2d 1234. As discussed in a prior blog article, the implied warranty protects against “(a) lack of hot water; (b) lack of heat; (c) leaky roof; (d) infestation (cockroaches, mice, and lice); (e) broken steps at the front and back doors to the property; (f) defective wiring; (g) defective windows; (h) overflowing toilets; (i) presence of lead paint; and (j) improper ventilation for a heating system.” While the issue has not yet been specifically addressed by the appellate courts, there is little reason to believe that bed bugs will not be treated as other infestations and, therefore, bed bugs are the responsibility of the landlord.
What the published study revealed:
According to NPR and Time, bed bugs are now highly resistance to aerosol insecticides, or “foggers.” “Bug bombs” that advertise their effectiveness on bed bugs may in fact be highly misleading and ineffective. The study found that five to seven days after exposure to the insecticides, the bed bugs remained unharmed.
What the published study means for Landlords:
Landlords are responsible for remedying the infestation and potential liable for damages caused to the tenant and their property from the bed bugs. As a result, its absolutely in the landlord’s best interest to solve the problem quickly. Relaying on ineffective treatments could waste significant money spent on failed attempts to remedy the situation, damage the landlord’s reputation, and expose them to legal fees, court costs, and damages.
What the published study means for Tenants:
Tenants must question the landlord on the treatment of the bed bugs. A landlord may genuinely believe he/she is helping the situation, but is relying on mislabeled products or bogus information. The result is that the problem persists, which exposes the client to further risk of injury, mental anguish, and the potential need to relocate, all of which can be costly.
According to Time, the most common signs of bed bugs are: (a) exoskeletons after molting; (b) bed bugs in the folds of mattresses and sheets; (c) rusty colored spots on mattresses and furniture; and (d) a sweet, musty odor. If you or a family member are suffering from bed bugs, please contact the landlord immediately to place them on notice. If you require legal representation, please contact our office for a free initial consultation.