Determining who is responsible for a bed bugs infestation can be tricky. When these invasive parasites strike, it is easy to point fingers. But no one wins when tenants and landlords bicker over who is going to pay to have these bugs removed. Failure to remove bed bugs promptly can cause property loss and significant physical and emotional suffering to occupants. That is why NH Gov. Maggie Hassan signed a law that helps tenants and landlords find legal recourse if a bed bug infestation arises. This law, which passed through democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate, is a balanced initiative that protects both sides.
From the tenants perspective.
This New Hampshire law states that a landlord is obligated to investigate a report of infestation, within a seven day window, and take measures to remediate the infestation. This is good news for tenants because they have legal recourse if their landlord doesn’t act quickly. The law also protects them if the landlord tries to unlawfully charge them for bed bugs that were pre-existing in the building when they moved in. Lawmakers will also be looking to see if these bugs are present in other apartments, and where the infestation originated. If a case can be made that the bugs were present in the apartment before the tenant moved in or that they moved in from another part of the building because of landlord neglect, the court will apply damages to the landlord.
From the landlord’s perspective.
Under this New Hampshire law, if a landlord acts promptly and can prove that the origination of the infestation was the tenant’s apartment, the landlord can bill the tenant for bed bug removal services. The landlord must also show reasonable opportunity to allow the tenant to pay over time. This is good news for landlords because it protects them from having to pay for someone else’s infestation.
How does this affect New Jersey?
In New Jersey no such law exists, but the spirit of this law should still be enforced for the common good of all who live in the apartment building. Be sure to create a bed bug policy that outlines tenant and landlord responsibilities before a bed bug infestation occurs. Then execute that policy quickly if these bugs are found. Failure to take immediate action and determine the origin of the infestation could lead to legal nightmares for both parties, and significant suffering for the entire complex.
Whether you are a landlord or tenant, quick response is key. Call the New Jersey bed bug exterminators at Chemtec to quickly remove the infestation and guard against future infestations. Chemtec Pest Control has a track record of keeping properties free of bed bugs, and they can help determine the origin of the infestation.