Bed Bugs!!!!!

10 Replies

This is my first encounter with the famous bed bug situation in NJ. I have one tenant infested with bed bugs. The apartment below and above it started complaining that they thought they had them. I am waiting for the exterminator to call me but but was wondering if anyone has dealt with this?? Of course the tenants are telling me they have to throw out their mattresses/furniture etc and naturally the "liability" issue has been raised as to whose responsible for replacement. I know I am responsible for treatment of the bed bugs but furniture?

I certainly would NOT replace their furniture - NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

Please keep us informed, I'll be very interested in how you do getting rid of the bugs and how much it costs!


This is a very timely topic. Why would you be responsible for bed bug extermination?

My first tenant just complained about mice. In January she complained about roaches, and I had the exterminator evaluate the property. He found no evidence of roaches, yet I agreed to pay for the treatment *one time* because she is very clean and I gave her the benefit of the doubt. This is a city row house and perhaps the neighbors aren't so clean. I told her any further treatments are her responsibility per the lease.

Yesterday the exterminating team arrived, as did my fiance and I. We all went through the house with the tenant, basement to attic. Again, no evidence of mice - no droppings, no chewings, no nests. The team did find 3 potential entry points through cracked siding outside near the foundation. I told the tenant since there was no evidence of mice, she would have to pay for extermination herself, per the lease, and I would pay to fix the holes outside. She went ballistic, saying it wasn't her fault and that although she does keep boxes of cereal and bags of rice in the lower kitchen cabinets and on the floor, that couldn't be the problem. She said none of the food has been touched.

Ok, fine. Exterminators found no evidence of mice, the tenant admits no food has been touched, yet she refuses to exterminate. She said she doesn't care what the lease says.

She's been a belligerent pain in the butt since Day 1. She's Section 8, and I'm wondering if I can just refuse to renew the lease when it expires Dec. 31?

Aly, you can try if you give her advance written notice etc. I tried once a few years back with a Sec 8 and she came to court with legal aid showing evidence that there were no available 2 bedrooms in the City (where her subsidy was required to stay). It turned into a nightmare for me.

Well the exterminator told me $450 for each apartment, more apartments - cost reduces gradually per apartment. I have 3 so far so I guess I'm stuck. It involves 3 treatments. NJ says extermination is my responsibility. Two apts are minor but apparently are the residual effect of the infested one. The infested one threw out her mattresses and furniture and is a real pig. Unfortunately this is going to be ugly yet interesting. My fear is the epidemic effect as tenants start talking to each other and suddenly everyone has bed bugs.

Thanks Ingrid. I won't give her notice until the 30 - 45 days prior to the lease expiring if possible. Otherwise, who knows what she might decide to do in the meantime. Her voucher can transfer to any city/state.

When I spoke with my eviction attorney, I was told that extermination is the tenant's responsibility if they cause the problem, which is why I included it in the lease. The tenant is keeping food on and near the floors.

Anyway, as far as bedbugs...that's a big expense. A friend in NY had them too and she is very clean. Who knows where they come from. Do you have to treat each apartment 3 times??

holy crap how do you check for presence of bed bugs before you buy a property? where do they come from? how do you get rid of them? do they use foggers or something?

I understand Aly. Well in my case its multi-family so it becomes the landlord's responsibility. Our town requires monthly contract extermination for roaches.

It is a 3 time extermination. I'm not sure exactly what they do. I believe it is some sort of powder substance that they coat surfaces with. Tenants are not supposed to mop for two days. Bed bugs can come from anywhere. Its not a cleanliness issue. They generally hide in crevices at daytime and at night come out for a blood feast when you are sleeping. Usual signs are what appear like rusty spots on your sheets and mattresses. Sadly they are hard to get rid of. They can live wtihout a blood dinner for up to 9 months.

Thanks Ingrid. I had gotten a call for one of my rentals last year from a woman who told me immediately that I was responsible for monthly extermination treatments. She lived up north, so I guess it's a town/city ordinance that varies.

There used to be a show on Discovery called The Verminators. They dealt with bedbugs and even had bedbug sniffing dogs that would check houses. They said furniture/beds should never be moved without covering them in plastic wrap, as the bedbugs would drop off and spread if you dragged infested furniture through a house or hallway.

My fiance's niece works for an exterminating company and they have 2 of those dogs. I'd be happy to check with her about the treatment if you want.

The bedbugs hide in crevices (any type of crack will do) and in fabrics. Removal of electrical covers (switch and outlet plates) prior to extermnation is recommended. Removal AND disposal of all fabrics (carpet, carpet pad, curtains, clothing, furniture, etc.) is also going to be recommended. If there is any warranty from the exterminator, it will probably require that those recommended things be performed.

Three treatments is the norm for bedbugs. Don't be surprised if both dust and fogger are used.

In a SFH, landlord should be certain to have in the lease that extermination is the tenant's obligation; in a multi-unit, it's almost always going to be the landlord's job.

If you don't want a tenant to stay on at the end of lease, be sure to provide all notices as stipulated in the lease, and be sure to comply with all landlord tenant law. If tenant does not voluntarily leave, you then have to do an eviction. Your tenant may bring up code violations (failure to exterminate), and that can derail the eviction process. Usually, in order to successfully evict, you will have to be code compliant or prove completely (without a doubt) that any code violation was caused / inflicted by the tenant. Could be tough to do with the matter of extermination; in row homes, bugs will move from house to house.

There are many reports of people acquiring the bedbugs while traveling; the hotel stay, with luggage and clothing, has been found to allow for the bedbug to "stowaway" and emerge at the travelers home.

The really scary thing here is that the landlord could bring the bedbugs home. My wife would kill me if that happened!!!


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