New Bedbug Law Puts Pressure on Landlords

Under a new proposal, Connecticut landlords will have to step up their game when it comes to fighting bedbugs.

Lawmakers there are working to establish a framework for inspecting and treating bedbug infestations.

The bill just cleared the Senate on a bipartisan 34-2 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. If passed there and signed into law, it would take effect July 1.

Sen. Bartolomeo, one of the lawmakers leading the charge, says the bill is the result of over eight hours of meetings with representatives of landlords, tenants, housing authorities and others, and is designed to balance property owners rights and responsibilities with those of tenants.

The main thrust of the bill is to require tenants to promptly notify landlords should they suspect an infestation. Then, the landlord has 5 days to have the property inspected. If the inspector determines that the unit is infested with bedbugs, the landlord has another 5 business days to treat the area.

Landlords are prohibited from applying pesticides themselves, unless they possess an applicator’s license. The landlord is responsible for all costs associated with inspection and treatment of a bed bug infestation.

Should a tenant be unable to prepare a unit for treatment, the landlord can charge for the service. The tenant will have months to pay off the charge, and a landlord is limited in legal remedies should the tenant fail to pay. However, the bill expressly provides that the charge can be deducted from a security deposit at the end of the lease.

Landlords will be required to disclose prior infestations to incoming tenants, although lawmakers are jockeying with the time line for this disclosure. The Senate version was reduced to 60 days. Landlords cannot rent out a unit that is known to be infested.

According to an April 2013 Å“Bugs Without Borders Survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky, 99.6 percent of pest management professionals have encountered bed bug infestations in the past year. The survey reveals that bed bugs are overwhelmingly found in private residences including apartments, condominiums and single-family homes, but also in hotels and motels, college dorms, nursing homes, office buildings, schools and day care centers, and hospitals.

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