Tenants in multi-unit dwellings can do little to stop a bed bug infestation that stems from a neighboring unit. Many feel helpless, and suffer anxiety, insomnia and shame.
Pest management professionals (PMPs) in some states have played a role in legislation designed to help tenants with bed bugs. Laws in Connecticut and Colorado require a landlord to pay for a licensed professional to inspect and treat for bed bugs in most circumstances. Regarding Connecticut’s law, if a landlord provides treatment, then a PMP must verify the bed bugs have been eliminated, thus providing a safeguard that the treatment worked.
The key to these laws is the requirement to hire a PMP to ensure effective treatment.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says Jake Plevelich, director of Public Policy for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). “The tenant will no longer have bed bugs, because the landlord hires professional pest control. The landlord’s reputation and property value will be protected, because the bed bugs will not spread to adjacent units.”
The laws are written to protect tenants from retribution, therefore encouraging them to come forward when they have bed bugs. The Connecticut law has been in effect since 2016; Colorado’s law was enacted last year. Tenant-landlord laws in many other states do not require the services of a PMP. Tenants who are required to pay for bed bug treatments, however, often hesitate to come forward; the result is an infestation that spreads to other areas.
You can help enact such a law in your state. When crafting bills, state representatives rely on the NPMA and PMPs for facts on bed bug biology and treatment methods. For instance, Loveland, Colo.-based EnviroPest assisted the state representative who drafted the Colorado bill.
“Our part in the process was serving as bed bug experts for the bill itself,” says EnviroPest President Kevin Lemasters, ACE. “We provided insight into why bed bug control is important, the need for getting rid of them quickly, and why it matters to have a professional inspect and address the issue.”
PMPs in other states can get started by working with the NPMA and engaging with the member of their State Policy Affairs Representative (SPAR) program.
“The NPMA is more than willing to draft the legislation, organize stakeholder groups, and do everything we can to assist to ensure policies like these are enacted in all 50 states,” Plevelich says. “It’s one of the NPMA’s top priorities, because our industry believes that every human being deserves to live a life free from pests.”