4. BED BUGS:
Bills Require Landlords To Hire Professionals To Inspect And Treat In Landlord-Tenant Housing
In some states, tenants in multi-unit dwellings have the law on their side when it comes to battling 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. In Connecticut, if a landlord provides treatment, a PMP must verify the bed bugs have been eliminated, thus providing a safeguard that the treatment worked.
The laws protect the landlords’ property values; reduce the likelihood of negative reviews by tenants complaining about bed bug infestations; prevent bed bugs from spreading to and from adjacent apartments; and reduce costs by addressing the problem early and proactively.
They also are effective at reducing the prevalence of bed bug infestations over time. They can help reduce the number of evictions, as some landlords use bed bug infestations as a reason to evict.
The key to these bed bug 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 NPMA. “The tenant no longer will 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.”
Tenants who are required to pay for bed bug treatments often hesitate to come forward; the result is more severe infestations that spread. 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 in 2019. Tenant-landlord laws in many other states do not require the services of a PMP.
PMPs in Colorado played a role in legislation designed to help tenants with bed bugs, and 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.”
In December 2020, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) selected Democratic Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod’s bed bug legislation enacted into law in 2019 as Model Legislation at its 44th Annual Legislative Conference. Highlighting this effective bed bug law on a national stage illustrates the importance of protecting public health and property, as it will likely be reproduced in other states, the NPMA says.
No bed bug bills became law in 2020. However, progress was made on similar bills proposed in
New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
If you would like to see similar bed bug legislation enacted in your state, take action. PMPs can get started by working with the NPMA and engaging with the member of their SPAR program.
“The NPMA is more than willing to draft the legislation, organize stakeholder groups, and do everything we can 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 every human being deserves to live a life free from pests.”