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Bedbugs and your home: Landlord or tenant liability?

Who should be held responsible if there is an insect infestation in your apartment? What happens if you or your children fall ill? Landlord-tenant laws for bug infestations, particularly those involving bedbugs, vary by state, but typically it is a landlord's responsibility to correct problems in their rental properties. If the bugs infest the property and make it uninhabitable, the tenants can't be expected to live there.

It's been shown by doctors in some poor inner-city areas that bedbugs could cause the transfer of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This bacteria can be incredibly dangerous, particularly to children and the elderly. Some people have presented with staph infections, which may be a result of bedbug bites.

As of this moment, it's never been highly profitable to sue a landlord for bedbug problems, but if a direct link between the infections and bites can be proven, then landlords who won't get rid of bedbugs could face trouble. Of course, it's your right to sue if your belongings are destroyed or you suffer serious health problems because of being bitten by one of these bugs after you informed your landlord about the issue.

What can you do if there is a bug infestation in your home that is making it uninhabitable? The first thing to do would be to look at your lease. Read it over and make sure you know the landlord-tenant laws of your state. If your landlord doesn't deal with the problem and you aren't required to by law, you may be able to break your lease and move out. Your attorney can help you review local laws to see if that's an option.

Source: Apartment Ratings, "Who’s Liable for Bedbug Infestations and Bacteria–You or Your Landlord?," accessed July 28, 2016

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