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Bed Bug Addendum for Landlords

Bed Bug Addendum and Landlord-Tenant Law

A bed bug addendum is like a map. It outlines everything that needs to happen if bed bugs occur.

The best part? It’s a map for BOTH landlords and residents. And, it sets expectations for both parties, before the lease is signed. It’s another document either signed with the lease, or added into the lease. 

It maps out everything from pest prevention to treatment and evacuation of rental properties. Bed bug addendums protect both landlord and tenant, and benefit both landlord and tenant. And as a landlord? If you don’t have one in your lease now, you should contact your attorney to add one in. You can view bed bug laws by state at this link prior to consulting an attorney.

Should Property Managers Use a Bed Bug Addendum?

Adding a bed bug addendum to your lease is a great idea, as mentioned above.

It protects your management company on multiple levels. In the case of disgruntled residents, the housing manager can refer back to the agreement that both parties signed to help solve any issues. Here are a few of reasons why:

Bed Bug Addendums Help With Early Prevention

A bed bug addendum should give pest control tips, and help the tenant prevent bed bugs in the first place. Treatment can be an expensive and lengthy process, and once bed bugs infest, they can spread like wildfire. The best way to keep these pesky pests under control is to never have them in the first place. Providing simple, education tips can avoid plenty of frustration for the landlord and resident.

They Mandate Early Disclosure and Cooperation

The bed bug addendum should clearly state that the tenant must immediately disclose of bed bugs. And, that they’ll fully cooperate in the effort to get rid of the problem. This includes measures such as pre-treatment, regular inspections, treatment to eliminate pest problems, and evacuation of the property if necessary.

Plus, there’s the good-ol’ issue of bed bugs spreading. Being clear that the tenant needs to let you know if they see bed bugs can prevent neighboring units from becoming infested.

They Protect the Property Management Company Financially

If a resident does not immediately disclose bed bugs or don’t cooperate with the terms outlined in the agreement, the addendum will enable the management company to keep the security deposit. (Again, consult with your attorney to make sure your language protects you, and works with the law in your state!)

The addendum can also hold the resident financially responsible if it is determined they brought the bed bugs in. If bed bugs spread into multiple units, the property owner may be held financially liable, making early detection and cooperation from tenants all that more important.

Will Tenants Sign a Bed Bug Addendum?

If you don’t already have a bed bug addendum in place, you may worry that tenants will never sign one. Well, unless you’re in a state where a bed bug addendum is required anyway.

And the truth is, new residents could be put off by a bed bug addendum. First of all, the thought of bed bugs before a move-in isn’t the most appealing image. It’s sort of like a prenup in marriage, not something you want to talk about, but probably should! 

Second, residents are already giving over a lot of control to the landlord when they sign a lease. 

But honestly, as mentioned above, a bed bug addendum protects the tenant as much as the landlord. 

You should position the addendum to the resident that it’s a great sign that the housing manager is staying on top of these pests. It can be helpful to demonstrate the advantages that signing will give to the resident.

As long as the renter is not bringing in the bed bugs themselves, they really have nothing to worry about. Even in the event that they accidentally bring in bed bugs, agreeing to the addendum offers them substantial protection in the event that an infestation occurs.

How is that?

First: it ensures that inspections were performed prior to moving in and guarantees that the property is pest free. 

Second: it also holds the landlord accountable if an infestation arises that is not the tenant’s fault. The strenuous process to kill bed bugs can not only take a toll financially but emotionally as well. By signing the addendum, the property manager agrees that they may be required to pay for the following for the affected tenant (depending on what you include/exclude from your addendum):

  • Monthly rent and utility bills
  • Medical bills
  • Damaged furniture or clothing
  • Hotel stays
  • Compensation for emotional distress

If the addendum is never signed, the renter may be stuck dealing with all these hardships on their own. If they are concerned about signing into something that won’t be of benefit to them, encourage the potential renter to have an attorney read through the document.

Are Bed Bug Addendums Required by Law?

The legal requirement of a bed bug addendum depends on the state. There are 21 states which have specific laws written for bed bugs. If you are a landlord or person in the market for renting, we strongly advise you to take a look and see what laws apply to your state. We are not attorneys and advise you to have your attorney look over any documents regarding this matter.

Note that residents are not required to sign the addendum if they are not confident that the property is not infested. Regardless of whether or not the state has specific bed bug requirements, most states do mandate by law that property managers provide habitable housing. Therefore, a house that is infested with bed bugs would not be considered habitable by the courts.

What Does a Bed Bug Addendum Include?

Again, this will vary from state to state, and an attorney should always review your addendum.  In general, most bed bug addendums will at contain the following:

  • Certified inspection from housing manager ensuring the property is bed bug-free
  • Which party is held financially liable if bed bugs occur
  • Mandating disclosure of bed bugs by resident 
  • Professional pest control service that will be utilized
  • Bed bug prevention tips
  • Terms for eviction

Prevention of Bed Bugs is Always Key

In a way, bed bug addendums symbolize what proper pest control should consist of. They talk about prevention, early intervention, and addressing the problem before it occurs. As a result, the property manager and tenant can save themselves plenty of time and frustration down the line. 

Consider Remote Bed Bug Monitoring Traps

We understand property managers, tenants, and the massive issue with bed bugs here at Pest Notify. That’s why we created the Pest Notify smart monitoring system. At just cents per trap and a few dollars per month, you can manage bed bug traps from your slippers, and be alerted before your tenants are itching.

You can learn more about our patent-pending remote monitoring insect traps here.