Is a Landlord Responsible For Treating Bed Bugs?
The Law Requires the Landlord to Address a Bed Bug Problem. The Law Also Requires the Tenant to Co-operate and Reasonably Assist the Process.
Determining Whether the Landlord or the Tenant is Responsible for Exterminating Bed Bugs
The occurrence of bed bug infestations in recent years appears more frequent than every before and the difficulty arising from a bed bug infestation is also a frustratingly disruptive and costly process. A landlords often worries about eradication difficulties requiring multiple treatments and a landlord may seek to pass the costs of bed bug treatment to tenants. The attempt to pass such costs along occur most often in circumstances where the landlord believes that the tenant, or tenants, are the source of the infestation. However, whereas bed bugs issues are a maintenance issue, the requirement to incur the effort and costs are prescribed by section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17 which states:
20 (1) A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.
Accordingly, it is the responsibility of a landlord to address a bed bug infestation. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may be within rights to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order to determine if the landlord failed to meet the statutory maintenance obligations. The tenant may do this by filing an Application, known as a T6 application, with the Landlord Tenant Board. If the tenant is successful at a Landlord Tenant Board hearing, the tenant may be entitled to a rent abatement and/or compensation for belongings which may have been discarded as a result of the inaction, being failure to address the bedbug issue, by the landlord.
Although the landlord is duty bound by the statute and therefore is ultimately responsible to take prompt and proper steps for the treating of a bed bugs situation, the tenants are duty bound and required to co-operate and participate in the process to assist and ensure the timely, effective, and hopefully successful, efforts of the landlord. Pest control companies provide detailed instructions outlining how to prepare the rental unit for treatment. This will often include removing excess items from shelves, laundering all bedding and clothing, and moving furniture away from the walls. If the tenant fails to adequately prepare the unit for treatment the landlord may incur additional costs due to unproductive or additional visits by the pest control company. Where the tenant failed to co-operate and participate in the process, and thereby failed to adequately assist the landlord in the eradication process, the landlord may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board in an attempt to recover the additional costs caused by the tenant. When attempting to recover the additional costs, it is the landlord who must prove that the tenant failed to co-operate and thereby caused increased costs to the landlord.
Generally, the treatment of bed bugs falls within the maintenance responsibility of a landlord. A tenant is required to act reasonably in assisting the landlord in the eradication of bed bugs by enabling access to exterminators, among other things. If the tenant impairs eradication efforts, the tenant may be liable to the landlord for aggravating expenses incurred by the landlord.