BED BUGS! Who's responsibility are they?? HELP PLEASE!

We have a duplex and the upstairs tenants complained about bugs biting them at night. I quickly met with an exterminator and determined they were in fact bed bugs.

The lady downstairs has not complained at all (odd because she complains quite a bit…)

I am wondering if the landlord is responsible for getting rid of these nasty bugs ($800-$1000, if they all die) or the tenants who obviously brought them in?? WHO GETS THE TAB? DOES THE LANDLORD HAVE TO GET RID OF THEM OR CAN THE TENANTS DEAL WITH IT ON THEIR OWN?

Do we fumigate just the upstairs where they have been noticed or do the whole building?

How do I make sure that the tenants do all the necessary steps to kill them (wash all clothing, bedding, drapery, and put in plastic bags, remove all clutter, move furniture away from walls, vacuum everything completely and dispose of bag outside, make walls completely bare, clean baseboards, be out of building for 6 hours)

Any ideas to enhance cooperation as the downstairs tenants have A LOT of clutter, and I can’t foresee her doing any serious sanitation as needed to fully kill these bugs.

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated, as usual!


The first thing I would do is determine if any over-the-counter foggers will kill the bedbugs. It would certainly be a LOT cheaper to spend $30 or $40 on over-the-counter foggers than $800 to $1,000 for an exterminator.

Obviously, the tenants should be responsible for the bill if they brought in the bedbugs, however tenants ARE tenants because they are irresponsible. Will they do their part to get rid of the bedbugs - NO. Normal people don’t have bedbugs, so these filthy tenants obviously do NOT do their part to be clean.

If you have them on a month-to-month lease (you should), then getting rid of them might be the best choice.

If they are on a longer term lease, then you should probably fumigate both apartments at the same time. However, unless the tenants are willing to change their ways and become clean, the bedbugs are there to stay!

Good Luck,


Thanks Property Manager. Looks like landlords are adding addendum’s to their leases making the tenants responsible for bedbugs, so we should all do that before it is too late! The Multi family owners are getting killed financially trying to get rid of the infestation being as they are small and travel from unit to unit. Bombs don’t work, I will reply when I find a solution…

Thanks again!

Your post made me curious about bed bugs, so I googled “kill bed bugs”. Check out this site:

Good Luck,


This site seems knowledgable:

I love the idea that putting stuff, “for several hours in a closed vehicle in full summer sun may render the items bug free.” It’s so natural and chemical-free.

Our family has a vacation memory from Hell- Bedbugs at “The Sunny Holiday Motel” on Fiji. We talk about that memorable night more than any other motel ever!

When we dimmed the lights little black specks started swarming out from under the mattresses. I put the lights on and stayed up all night maintaining an insecticide dike from a tube of mosquito repellant around the other sleeping family members.
The dikes got us through until 5 AM when we bailed out of there.

I have heard from others that you can pick up bedbugs on your suitcases from a bug-ridden motel, like the one we stayed at. So I don’t think your tenants are necessarily filthy, maybe just unlucky.

We haven’t encountered them here yet. I’m sure it is just a matter of time.


Furnishedowner - I also have a bed bug story to share… I was working in Brighton, UK in a short assignment (4 months). My wife came over to spend a month with me. One weekend we were kicked out of our hotel in Brighton because there were tourists that were willing to pay a hole lot more than we were paying… That was the Pride weekend in England and Brighton seems to be the main focal point for the event in the island… :O) Anyway, we ended up going to London and spending the weekend there. We decided to stay in a bed and breakfast (it was a Best Western property) close to the Victoria station. We figured it was better to stay close to the station so we didn’t have to haul our lugage throughout London… Big mistake! First night I woke up around 2AM with my legs and arms itching… I woke up my wife and she was also feeling the same thing… We contacted the front desk but they did not have any explanation or another room… So we decided to stay… we ended up sleeping in the bathroom. It was a very long night…

And when we told the manager the next morning he could not understand why we were so upset… After a lot of complaining he gave us a $10 pounds discount… And the worst part is that I didn’t even see the money - as my company was paying for the room… :O(

So I do understand how nasty bed bugs can be… :O)

 Just a note on the bed bugs.  The infestation probably has nothing to do with the cleanliness of the tenants.  Unlike roaches, rats, and other critters these guys do not thrive due to dirt.  They feed on blood and as long as a source of that is available, they will thrive.

 To make matters worse, these guys are very hardy and most pesticides cannot kill them.  The few over the counter sprays available are so poisonous that they specifically state that they should not be used on anything that will have skin contact or even be near to it and the place must be well aerated after spraying.  So forget about any possibility of a fogger; none kill bedbugs.  Even starving them out is hard as they can live for over a year without blood.  Ironically it was the banning of DDT that helped them make a comeback and become the plague that they currently are.

 And to top it off these guys now easily spread from place to place.  Hotel rooms have now become the centers of infection; same as the bath houses, hookers, and needles once were and still are for AIDS.  All it takes it one guest to bring in one hitchhiker.  Once that happens and an infestation takes hold, subsequent guests generally then take new hitchhikers back home and then onwards to other hotel rooms.  The hotels themselves have little options available to them.  The only way to be sure to get rid of an infestation is to burn all the furniture, linens, towels, rugs, mattresses, and box springs and seals any cracks or openings in the room's walls/floor/roof and then coat the room in extremely poisonous chemicals.  Used furniture, mattresses, or box springs, whether bought, picked up off the street, or received for free, is another possible source of transmission.

 I have read about some dust products available on the internet that might be useful.  Unfortunately the only source of review of the product is from the company itself so its hard to tell how good it actually would be.  For the future, due to the nature of bed bug infestations, I would definitely add a clause to any lease making this a tenant responsibility.  It can take a number of professional extermination and cleaning jobs to get rid of these pests.  However you should check with your lawyer as it is quite possible that a local ordinance may make the Landlord responsible for pest control.  If you are stuck because your lease or local ordinance default made you responsible there are some things you can try on your own.
  1. The strong chemicals in the corners of the room, especially in any openings that might offer sanctuary to the bed bugs.
  2. The “organic” dust that claim to be able to kill the bed bugs and not be harmful to humans in areas where people might have closer contact (mattress and box spring, etc). Note: this dust claims to be safe for humans but I’d avoid any place with direct contact such as sheets.
  3. Vacuum everywhere in the room, including the furniture, rugs, mattress, and box spring.
  4. You can get a plastic or another type of impervious mattress cover. This is a cover that zippers up where you can stuff in a mattress and/or a box spring. The bedbugs generally make there home or lay their eggs here. These bags are impervious. Keeping the mattress and box spring sealed up for over 18 months should starve and kill any bugs that escaped the vacuuming as well as those that hatched later on.
  5. Machine wash anything that is washable in the hottest water setting possible and the hottest dryer setting possible. Real bleach should be used with any linens that can tolerate it.
  6. Throw away anything that is unnecessary and try not to replace until you are sure the infestation is contained or destroyed. Foot rugs, old infected furniture, etc.

You might have to repeat the various steps a few times until you are successful. Another note. Bed bugs don’t thrive on all types of furniture. They prefer fluffy things so rugs and linens make good homes for them. They also like wood and dark areas so box springs, mattresses (older types, newer ones not so much), inside of wood furniture, behind walls, etc make good homes as well. Generally they don’t like plastic and metal. Also a note when traveling, a good way to avoid any hitchhikers is to put your bags and clothing on top of a table or chair, preferably metal or plastic, when staying at a hotel room.

Don’t know about th elaws prevailing there so can not say ifwho is responsible for bedbugs and whether or not you can get a compensation. But do know that bedbugs are at rise every where and has to be checked immediately. any pesticide will not be fruitful to remove them as they have become resistannt to them. You should have the building treated .We called personals for guidance from who gave us some steps to apply to eradicate them from our building and soon found many dead bugs lying on the ground. Hope we won’t be infested again.

BedBug update…

Yes it is the landlords responsibility to provide a healthy living environment for our tenants, bedbugs are a health issue as they cause physical and mental harm. I however was able to pin point that the bedbugs are only coming from upstairs unit as we (myself and the pest co.) did not find them or any evidence of them downstairs. I paid $500 to treat both units with some very strong chemicals (cheap, most companies wouldnt touch them and the ones that would wanted over $1000). They came 3 times (10 days apart, that is when their eggs hatch) and they sprayed pretty much everything in both units top to bottom. Although as a landlord I am required to provide my best faith effort of removing these pests, the tenants must cooperate as their is a lot of prep that goes into this process. I told my tenants upstairs that I am treating this once, and if they are not gone then they will be responsible for the next treatment. I purchased vinyl bed covers, boric acid, and some special bedbug spray for additional treatment…they were billed for these items. No legal issues so far, but these bugs are becoming an epidemic, so beware they are very difficult to kill!

bedbugs should be dealt with the land lords. But they really donot pay heed to the plight of the tenant. SO the tenant is left with no option but to face the consequences. He has to pay for the treatment or to the exterminator. one can get assistance from to eradicate them from ones premises.

I had one of my tenants complain of bedbugs after she leased a bedroom set from a rent a center place. I had all three units in the building treated to the tune of 1200.00. I then approached the rental place with the details (time of infestation coincided with time of leased property) of my situation. They told me to go fly a kite. So I took them to small claims court where I won a settlement for $970.00. From now on I am including a bed bug clause in my leases.

Six7Kevin - what do you say in this bed bug clause? Do you make the tenants responsible? Or you state that they should not bring used/rented furniture into the property?

From now on I am including a bed bug clause in my leases.