Renters could face cleanup bill for bedbugs
Wilmington Star News
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
There aren't many barricades against them.
They can hitch a ride in your luggage, cling to
clothing and travel on used beds and couches.
And the growing problem of bedbugs around the
nation hasn't left Wilmington untouched.
But during a time when the bugs are in the
spotlight, a proposed bill in the N.C. General Assembly is seeking
to make landlords less liable for the critter's invasion of a
rental unit by shifting more responsibility onto the tenant.
Some oppose it as a potential blow to tenants'
"This law does not adequately protect the rights
of tenants," said Richard Klein, senior managing attorney at the
Legal Aid of N.C. Wilmington office.
He said some responsibility of home maintenance
would shift. He pointed to current state law that says landlords
must "make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep
the premises in a fit and habitable condition."
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Darrell McCormick,
R-Yadkin, passed the House and could be acted on by the Senate next
The bill would shift responsibility of getting
rid of the bugs to tenants 60 days after they move in if the
landlord had the building inspected beforehand.
If bedbugs are found, it does hold the landlord
responsible for making sure all neighboring units are free of the
bugs. The landlord would have to obtain a written report of
The proposed bill comes at a time when the
blood-sucking vermin are on the rise.Bedbugs have made national
news in crowded New York City, and a survey by the National Pest
Management Association says they have become a problem nationwide,
according to the nonprofit organization.
The survey says pest management professionals
across the U.S. have responded to more bedbug-related
exterminations in the last 10 years.
In Wilmington, Bug-N-A-Rug Exterminators service
manager Stuart Flynn said he has seen a spike in reports of the
bugs, which had been under control in the U.S. since post-World War
"I bet we have had six or seven calls today
already," he said on Monday. "That is much more than we are used
The bill would also make landlords provide
educational material about the bugs to tenants. Education about the
bugs might be driving somee of the increase in calls, Flynn
"There is an increasing awareness, and people
who are worried," he said.
Steve Abarno, Bugs, Etc. manager and a
registered technician, said people are also looking for preventive
measures. The do-it-yourself store has seen more customers asking
about bedbug prevention and remedies.
"We have definitely seen an increase in the
amount of people asking about bedbugs than last year," he said. "It
has become an issue."
He noted that there has also been a spike in the
number of residential and commercial units seeking his