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Is the landlord or tenant responsible for a bed bug pest control bill

Redmond, WA |

I've lived in the same complex since 2005 and have never had a problem until I switched units in late Nov/Early Dec 2013. I've had no new furniture and simply moved my things in my car across the parking lot. My car has been registered there and has never had bugs either. I haven't traveled and neither have my roommates. I started getting what I thought were mosquito bites that were inflamed due to my allergies in early April, I found out earlier this month that they were bed bugs when I saw them on the floor and now on my couch (which I had to get rid of). I called the complex and now they're trying to charge me $1098 for pest control. They didn't even have pest control inspect neighboring units to see if they came from there. They insist it was us, but we've only lived in their complex.

They are trying to tack the bill onto our rent to make us pay it! They're already treating our unit, and now, if the bed bugs move, definitely cannot prove it came to us since they didn't check other units prior to treatment. Can they really tack the bill onto our rent if they shouldn't even legally be charging us since they cannot prove we brought them in?

Attorney Answers 2

  1. Best answer

    They can insist all they want, what a court cares about is what they can prove. In multi-family property, landlords are always responsible for pest control. Always. Not just when it is convenient for them. They cannot charge you for this unless they can prove your conduct was the source of the infestation. So stop taking legal advice from your landlord and consider what you want to have happen. You may need to advise them to control the bugs, and if they do not, think about whether you want to continue living like this. Then read RCW 59 18 090. Elizabeth Powell

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  2. Apparently, bed bugs can hitch rides in anything, not just furniture.

    If the tenant causes the infestation, the tenant is responsible for the cost of pest control.

    The issue for you and the landlord is who caused the infestation. Did you, your roommates, or one of your guests bring the bedbugs to your home? Or, were the bedbugs already in the unit when you moved in? Or, did the bedbugs crawl from one of your new neighbors?

    Given that the statutes require the landlord to control pests in an apartment, the burden of proving who causes the infestation likely is that of the landlord.

    If you want to confirm your suspicions, you can check with your neighbors to see if any of them is having a bedbug problem. If you know the tenants who moved out, perhaps you can ask them if there were bedbugs in the unit when the prior tenants left.

    Thuong-Tri Nguyen

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