Bedbugs… and the Duties of the Housing Provider
Joe Garcia, DirectorFair Housing Center of NE-IA2401 Lake St., Omaha, NE 68111
Frequently asked Questions Regarding Rentals &Bedbugs
If your tenant calls statingthey have bedbugswhat’sthefirst step?Keep calm…theproblem might not bebedbugs; it could be fleas or roaches. Call an exterminator to diagnose theproblem. Sothe first step is toaddressthe problem before it gets worse. You can always figure out the responsibility later.
Who is Responsible to Remove theBedbugs?Responsibility should fall on whoever brought them in the house. An exterminator might be able to tell you how thebedbugsarrived. For example, if a swarm of bed bugs is found in the tenant’s luggage and he just got back from a business trip, then you certainly could hold the tenant responsible.Butgenerally speaking, fault is difficult to prove, particularly in an apartment building. In this case, a resident of another unit could have brought in thebedbugs, and thosebedbugscould have then traveled from the infested apartment to your rental through floorboards or small cracks in the walls.The question of who brought in thebedbugsis easier to determine if the rental in question is a single-family house. But even then, a maintenance person, not the tenant, could have brought in thebedbugs.
WhoShould Pay for theExterminator?If thebedbugswere presentbefore the tenantmoved in,the housing provider (HP) need’sto pay for an exterminator.If the HP doesnothing about thebedbuginfestation,the tenantcan take actions againstthe HP,suchas:Payingfor an exterminator and deducting that amount from therentTerminatingthelease (with proper notice)Take legal action against the HPfor not providing a livable dwelling underNebraska Landlord Tenant Law 76-1419,“Landlord to maintain fit premises.”
Frequently Asked Questions(cont’d)
Who Pay’s (cont’d)If the tenant brought in thebedbugs,and the HP can prove it, the tenant pays. Asof November 2016, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures 22 stateshavelaws addressing bedbugs.Bedbuginfestations in rentalproperties, Arizona, California, Florida,NebraskaandNew Hampshire);Hotels(Alabama, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia);Institutionalfacilities (Michigan,Minnesota,NebraskaandWisconsin);Schools(New York and Utah);Railcars(Illinois);Migrantlabor camps (Iowa, Nevada and Pennsylvania).
Nebraska Bedbug Laws
Neb. Admin. R. &Regs. Tit. 175, Ch. 2, § 004 Regulations and Standards Governing Boarding Homes- SANITATIONRequires boarding homes to be constructed and equipped to prevent bedbug and pest infestations. Allows exterminators to be used to eradicate pests when necessary.Neb. Admin. R. &Regs. Tit. 175, Ch. 3, § 004.12 Health Care Facilities and Services- HEALTH AND SAFETY REQUIREMENTS – Insect and Rodent Control.Requires health care facilities to be constructed and equipped to prevent bedbug and pest infestations. Allows exterminators to be used to eradicate pests when necessary.25 Neb. Admin. Code, Ch. 2, 005.02B(8)(a) Standards for Pesticide Applicators – Health-Related Pest Control.Applicators must demonstrate practical knowledge of environmental conditions related to pest control.
Not Much Help!!
Unfortunatelynot as straight forward asin:Maine which “Establisheslandlord and tenant duties in the event of a bedbug infestation in rentalproperty”and also providesfor remedies.ORFlorida which“Requireslandlords to make reasonable provisions for the extermination of bedbugs in rental property.”
If the HP is responsible, the HP pay’sIf the tenant is responsible, the tenant paysThe Key is Proving it!!