Landlord/Tenant: What Your Landlord Should NOT Do to Treat Your Bed Bug Infestation

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.

13 thoughts on “Landlord/Tenant: What Your Landlord Should NOT Do to Treat Your Bed Bug Infestation

  1. Hello My name is Tiffany DeLoatch and I’m currently residing in a home that is infested with bed bugs and I have made the landlord aware of the problems and he has made no valid effort to treat or correct the infestion problem. Can you please advise me because this has not only been a huge inconvenience for me and my family but I feel I was intentionally misled. I’m looking forward to hearing from your office. Thank you


  2. I live in a apartment complex. I found bedbugs and was told it was my responsibility to pay for the exterminator. The exterminator did confirm there were bugs found in other surrounding apartments. There is no proof that my apartment was the primary source of the bugs, not is their anything in my lease saying I am responsible. Should I be responsible to pay my portion of the bill because I was the one who reported the bugs first?


    1. I am in the same situation and I hope someone will answer this question. I know of two another apartments in my complex has had them and been treated but now my apartment and my neighbors have them and I was told it was my responsibility


      1. This opinion appears to be in complete conflict with the International Property Maintenance Code which in my experience has been adopted and enforced by most or all municipalities. The IPMC at section 309.2 puts the responsibility for pest-free infestation upon the Landlord BEFORE occupancy. Section 309.5 places the responsibility for pest-free infestation upon the tenant AFTER occupancy.

        I call BS. When bedbugs are introduced by a tenant, assuming one can identify the tenant, why then would you claim that:

        “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.”


  3. Hello i am on section 8 and my landlord has a management company, i recently informed them both of my bedbug situation. I was told that because i have resided at the residents for 7 years that i should have to pay for the services. Is this accurate or are they still responsible? Please help


    1. Under the Implied Warranty of Habitability, they are responsible.
      building sprayed. (I told her the problem, she said “I’ve owned this building for 26 years and never had them. You brought them in.”)

      I’ve been here since 2008 and never had them either. So after reading the article above, I hired Prince Law Offices. They sent a letter. So she had to hire an exterminator, who told her the entire building needed to be done.

      Loose lips around the building told me that previous tenants has them too. And that other problems, like termites and such, were found.

      Sadly, too many think they can rent and just collect the money. They don’t think that they have obligations to tenants. My LL’s ignorance cost her $5,000.


  4. Does the infestation include bed bugs? Someone else brought them into my apartment building and they moved out back in August. The bugs scattered and came to my apartment and at least one other one upstairs. They did three treatments on both apartments and the original apartment. Now the end of December we started getting bed bugs again, and saw one climbing down the wall from the ceiling. The office manager said they will not pay again to treat and we can move out if we aren’t happy with the living arrangements. But we have to take care of the bugs before we move. I’m not paying for treatment when they didn’t treat right the first time. They needed to bomb the whole building not just a few apartments. I told them that but they didn’t listen to me. I don’t know what to do to have my landlord held accountable but I refuse to put any money into this problem when they aren’t my damn bugs!!!!


    1. As my landlord found out when I hired this firm, they are responsible. It’s a violation of the warranty of habitability. And yes, they will have to do the entire building.



  5. I’m currently renting from a well known roofing company and I was not made aware of the bed bug infestation until after my lease was signed. I’m allergic to the anticoagulant they release from their saliva. I lost a job I love because it’s a health problem. I have brought this issue up to my landlord multiple times and they send a company who uses chemicals that do not work. I need help. Please if anyone can be of assistance here.


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