Should Tenants Or Property Managers Pay For Bed Bug Treatment?

FOX29.com (Indianapolis, IN)
Thursday, December 1, 2011

The bed bug problem across the country has gotten so bad that many property managers have added "dead bug addendums" to their leases, according to Gold Seal Termite and Pest Control in Indianapolis. It is to relieve companies of the high costs associated with getting rid of them.  
However, what if bed bugs are not specified in a lease? Who pays for the costly treatment?

Misty Brooks, a mother of two, noticed bed bugs in her daughter Kaley's bed in July.  

"I went to go change my daughter's linens and I saw a bunch of bugs in there and it just grossed me out," said Brooks.

When Fox59 visited the apartment, we could see blood spots around the outlet, in the corners of the kids' room and live bugs were crawling around the walls. 

"They're on the beds, they're on the walls, and you can see them on the walls," said Brooks. "It is disgusting."

Brooks told Fox59 managers at the Sawmill Apartments did send a company to get rid of the bugs in July. However, the process did not work and the bed bugs remain. 

Brooks said she was then told it was her responsibility to have the apartment treated and that she must have brought bed bugs when she moved in last December.  She believes the problem is complex-wide because of how often pest control workers show up. 

"I've seen them outside of apartment over there, apartments in the front of the complex, sitting right outside the building, so I know we're not the only apartment that has them," said Brooks as she pointed in all directions of the complex. 

So, who pays to have the bed bugs removed? It depends on your interpretation of the lease. 

The lease states: The owner has the right to exterminate any infested apartment. The lessee may be asked to remove portions of their personal belongings for pest control treatment. In the event that pest control treatment is required due to an infestation caused by the lessee's abuse or negligence, use of the premises, then the lessee will be responsible for the cost of pest control treatment in the leased apartment unit and any adjoining apartment units and or the common areas of the building. 

Fox59 went to the leasing office at the Sawmill Apartments. We were kicked out and sent to Magna Properties, the management company.  

There, Mike Abdalla, Magna's president, said he was going to call security if Fox59 did not leave after we asked about the bed bug problem. 

On the phone, Abdalla said they remediate bed bugs for residents initially and give them literature on how to solve the problem further.  He said if they are notified of a problem, they will fix it. 

Brooks will likely move when the lease is up but everything is infested. 

"We're going to have to start all over, we're going to have to throw everything out," said Brooks. 

She is still waiting for answers from Magna properties. 

"My son, he always tells me there are bugs on his bed and it makes me want to cry," said Brooks. "You know, he shouldn't have to live like that. He shouldn't have to get bitten up because they don't' want to deal with their problems."

According to Gold Seal Termite and Pest Control, prices to get rid of bed bugs range from $300 to $1,000. 

Abdalla said he would call Fox59 back to tell us what he was going to do to fix the situation for Brooks and the rest of the residents. However, he never called back and did not return our calls.