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Essential information on bed bug infestation

Bed bug infestation is a common problem many California residential landlords deal with on a regular basis. They are a particularly difficult type of pest to eliminate, as they can easily transfer from one unit to another by latching on laundry, worn clothing, furniture surfaces and other types of contact.

When dealing with bed bugs in multi-family properties, infestations can often occur beyond the control of individual tenants.  This can potentially lead to devastating effects for rental properties.  Without proper strategic and timely prevention measures, the contagion can turn into something that can be very difficult to control.

Recently passed laws on bed bug treatments are now in place which clarifies the different roles and responsibilities of tenants, landlords and pest control operators.

Starting July 1, 2017, written notices on bed bugs are now required to be given by landlords to all prospective tenants who are about to enter a rental or lease agreement.

The notice must contain required information on bed bugs including:

  • bed bug identification, behavior and biology
  • the importance of cooperating in bed bug prevention and treatment
  • the importance of prompt written reporting of bed bug infestations to the landlord
  • the procedure for reporting suspected bed bug infestations to the landlord.

Once a residential landlord approves a rental or lease agreement, the notice regarding bed bugs will be included as an attached addendum to the agreement. In addition, starting July 1, 2018, landlords are required to hand the notice to tenants holding rental or lease agreements that do not have the attachment on bed bugs.

Landlord and tenant duties

Under the notice, residential tenants are required to cooperate to prevent and treat bed bug infestation. Tenants are advised to submit their written notice of any suspected infestation to the property’s landlord or manager.

Once a tenant submits a report on a possible infestation, the landlord or property manager is required to contact a structural pest control operator in order to request and schedule an investigation of the current situation. Part of the landlord or property manager’s duty is to select a pest control operator equipped with the proper knowledge and experience in current best practices regarding bed bug management and prevention, such as the ones stated by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA)

Notice prior to inspection

Before pest control operators enter the property, residential landlords will serve a Notice of Intent to Enter Dwelling, which is often used whenever repair or maintenance services (which include pest control inspection) are required within occupied units. A tenant will receive a written 24-hour notice prior to a pest control operator entering the affected premises.

In the event a pest control operator detects infestation and takes necessary actions to treat an infected area, all tenants will be required to cooperate with the operator’s treatment method, by accomplishing tasks such as:

  • Removing or reducing clutter
  • Cleaning storage areas such as shelves, closets, or drawers
  • Washing fabrics, linens, clothing, and furniture
  • Vacuuming and cleaning infested sections and its surrounding areas
  • Allowing operators to conduct investigations unhindered, which may require leaving the unit temporarily while operations are underway
  • Destroying untreatable items identified by the pest control operator