Bed Bug Laws by State
What pest management professionals, landlords, vacation rental managers, and hoteliers need to know about bed bug laws.
Whether you’re a pest management professional or a property owner/manager, you know bed bugs can be a big problem in multi-unit rentals like apartment complexes, duplexes, and hotels. Besides the obvious problem of tenant complaints and infestations spreading to adjacent units, there’s one more big problem: lawsuits. That’s why we’re going over bed bug laws by state.
In fact, there are attorneys that specialize in bed bug cases. That’s why it’s important that as a property manager you know the law of your state, and as a pest control professional you can help educate your clients and provide them with the best products and services to prove their case.
One of the main factors when a plaintiff wins a bed bug case against a landlord is whether the landlord acted quickly and in good faith when a tenant complained about bed bugs. One of the best ways landlords can prove they were proactive is to actively monitor for bed bugs. The easiest, most cost effective way to do that is with Pest Notify’s Remote Insect Monitoring. It costs just a few dollars per unit, and gives you the bed bug history of every unit. And if you’re a pest control professional, be sure to let your property owner/manager clients know that they can get Pest Notify’s system through your company. Find out more at this link.
Currently, there are 25 states that have bed bug laws.
Those are listed below. The other 25 states without laws are listed at the end of the article.
Within the laws you will find a few commonalities that the states share.
Bed Bug Education:
Typically, most laws contain a piece that requires the landlord to give bed bug education to the renter. This is usually provided in the bed bug addendum that the property manager and resident will both review and sign before the property is rented. Education may include topics such as bed bug prevention, how bed bugs are spread, how to detect them, pesticide usage, and even the life stages of bed bugs.
Knowledge of a Bed Bug Infestation
It is also common to see stipulations that forbid a landlord from renting out a property if it is knowingly infested with bed bugs. Many laws that pertain to institutions such as hotels, prisons, and hospitals mandate that the building be structured and sanitized appropriately to prevent an infestation.
Tenant Must Notify Landlord of Bed Bugs
Lastly, most states require tenants to immediately notify the landlord if bed bugs are found in order to prevent a rapid spread.
Bed Bug Laws by State
Alabama’s law pertains to hotels and mandates that rooms are kept up with to prevent insect and rodent harborage. There are regulations concerning windows, doors, and other openings to the rooms, as well as garbage can guidelines. If an infestation occurs, all guests are to leave and the establishment is immediately shut down. It may only be reopened once the problem is eradicated and passes inspection from a Health Officer.
Legal Code: http://www.alabamaadministrativecode.state.al.us/docs/hlth/420-3-11.pdf
In Arizona, The Board of Supervisors, cities, and towns are not allowed to adopt their own requirements to control bed bugs. Their laws also prohibit property managers from renting a property that is knowingly infested with bed bugs, while also forbidding tenants from moving in bed bug-infested items. It further states that landlords must provide education to tenants regarding bed bugs.
Legal Code: https://www.azleg.gov/legtext/50leg/1r/bills/sb1306p.htm
According to the law of California, the housing manager must provide education regarding bed bugs to current and prospective residents. Properties with known bed bug infestations must not be rented out until the problem is resolved. When a pest control inspection is performed, the property manager must tell the tenant of the results of inspection within 2 business days.
Legal Code: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billCompareClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB551
The state of Colorado mandates the disclosure of bed bugs by tenant via electronic or written notice, and requires the landlord to inspect or obtain inspection by a professional within 96 hours of the reported incident. Tenants must comply with measures taken, but the landlord is held financially responsible in most cases.
Legal Code: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1328
Connecticut law outlines requirements for when tenants notice or suspect a bed bug infestation and maps out the steps landlords must take once notified. The law states that the tenant must cooperate with any necessary measures that the property manager must do to eradicate the problem including sending in inspectors or having the residents temporarily leave the premises.
Legal Code: https://www.cga.ct.gov/2016/ACT/PA/2016PA-00051-R00HB-05335-PA.htm
Landlords must take an adequate course of action to exterminate bed bugs when an infestation occurs. If the residents are required to leave the property during the extermination period, the property manager is not held liable for damages, but they must reduce or pause the rent. Residents that are forced to vacate their home must receive 7 days notice from the landlord and extermination treatment may not exceed 4 days.
Legal Code: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0083/Sections/0083.51.html
Georgia law pertains to hotels and motels and mandates that effective measures be taken to both prevent and eliminate bed bug infestations. All pesticide applications used must be permissible by state and federal law, and all pesticide treatments that exceed the occasional use of consumer sprays must be logged and kept available for health authorities for up to 18 months after treatment.
Legal Code: https://dph.georgia.gov/sites/dph.georgia.gov/files/EnvHealth/Tourist/511-6-2Tourist%20AccommodationsRules.pdf
Interestingly enough, Illinois’ laws actually pertain to trains! The law states that owners and operators of railroads are permitted from allowing a railroad car to be occupied by passengers if it is infested with bed bugs or contains other unsanitary findings. If you’ve visited cities in Illinois like Chicago, you’d understand that subway trains play a vital role in transportation, making this law necessary.
Legal Code: https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1771&ChapterID=46
In Iowa, the grounds of migrant labor camps must be built and kept in proper condition to avoid bed bug invasions.
Legal Code: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/code//138.pdf
The state of Kansas defines bed bugs as an “imminent health hazard” and states that lodging establishments must immediately shut down when these hazards are found. They also must report the issue to the Secretary of Agriculture no more than 12 hours after discovery. The law goes into detail about what’s considered a bed bug infestation, including the finding of living or dead bed bugs, eggs or egg casings, or blood spots on mattresses and furniture.
Legal Code: https://agriculture.ks.gov/docs/default-source/statutes-foodsafety-lodging/lodging_establishment_regulations.pdf
Maine’s bed bug laws describe the responsibilities of the tenant and property manager when a bed bug infestation occurs. This includes immediate notification and cooperation from residents, as well as the appropriate treatment remedies that the landlord may use.
Legal Code: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/14/title14sec6021-A.html
Michigan’s bed bug mandates apply to infirmaries (hospitals, schools, prisons, or other facilities where the sick and injured may be treated). The law requires that certain measures are taken to prevent the infestation of pests in these county regulated facilities.
Legal Code: https://ucanr.edu/datastoreFiles/904-11.pdf
Minnesota has laws for both lodging establishments and supervised living facilities. Both facilities must be adequately equipped and kept up with to prevent the infestation of bed bugs. Furthermore, the commissioner may require the facility to hire a licensed exterminator if they deem the infestation is too much to handle by a non-professional.
Legal Code: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/4625.1700/ https://www.revisor.mn.gov/rules/4665.2300/
The first part of Nebraska’s bed bug laws explain that those using pesticides to treat infestations must follow regulations when applying pesticides. Since the use of these chemicals can be dangerous to the environment and spread to unintended areas, the persons applying treatment must have knowledge of the risks. Nebraska law also requires health care facilities to be adequately structured and cleaned to prevent bed bugs.
Legal Code: https://www.nebraska.gov/rules-and-regs/regsearch/Rules/Agriculture_Dept_of/Title-25_Bureau_of_Plant_Industry/Chapter-02.pdf https://www.nebraska.gov/rules-and-regs/regsearch/Rules/Health_and_Human_Services_System/Title-175/Chapter-03.pdf
The state of Nevada mandates that hotel rooms which have been infested receive proper treatment and may only reopen once the bed bugs are exterminated. It also demands the upkeep of labor camps for prevention and treatment of bed bugs.
Legal Code: https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-447.html#NRS447Sec030
The Housing Standards of New Hampshire describes the unique threat that bed bugs pose and mandates that measures to prevent these critters are as sufficient as any other insect or creature. The law further maps out requirements for the landlord stating they may not rent out property that’s either been infested with bed bugs or does not receive periodic inspection and remediation. In this case, New Hampshire defines “remediation” as efforts which will significantly reduce the presence of bed bugs for at least 60 days. The Housing Standards set rules for residents as well, stating their tenancy may be terminated if they do not assist in the eradication of bed bugs, and they may also be held financially liable if the invasion is determined to be their fault.
Legal Code: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/iii/48-a/48-a-mrg.htm http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/lv/540/540-mrg.htm
The state of New York requires housing managers to disclose a property’s bed bug infestation history for the past year before renting out a space. New York’s law also sets guidelines for school systems, stating that school districts with a population of 1 million or more must notify parents immediately if a bed bug problem arises.
Legal Code: http://www.dnsclaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/NYC-Administrative.pdf http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/bedbug-parent-notification-law.pdf
Ohio puts mandates on hotel bedding, requiring that it be properly aired, cleaned, and kept from use if infected. The law also necessitates proper sanitization of walls, carpets, ceilings, and hotel equipment.
Legal Code: https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-3731.13
Being the woodland area it is, Oregon has laws commanding the structure and upkeep of campgrounds for pest prevention. Oregon also sets rules around confidentiality. If reported to an agency, the identity of the person disclosing bed bugs, the location, and intricate details of the situation must remain confidential.
Legal Code: https://oregon.public.law/rules/oar_333-030-0070 https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_192.582
The Pennsylvania Code lays out the measures that must be taken to prevent the infestation and harboring of bed bugs for seasonal farm labor camps.
Legal Code: https://www.pacodeandbulletin.gov/Display/pacode?file=/secure/pacode/data/007/chapter82/chap82toc.html&d=
The Rhode Island Housing Occupancy and Maintenance Code states that if the infestation is kept to a single dwelling unit, it is the tenant of that property which must take care of the problem. However, if the invasion has spread to two or more units, it becomes the responsibility of the landlord.
Legal Code: https://health.ri.gov/healthrisks/pests/bedbugs/
Vacation homes are the primary focus of South Dakota. The law states that the premises must be properly equipped and cleaned to prevent invasion and harboring of bed bugs. It also insists on professional exterminators being hired if the problem is deemed too large for non professionals.
Legal Code: https://www.law.cornell.edu/regulations/south-dakota/S-D-Admin-R-44-02-08-05
The state of Texas considers insect infestations to be a public health nuisance. Measures to rid the nuisance must be taken immediately and the pest invasion must be resolved within a reasonable time frame.
Legal Code: https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/HS/htm/HS.341.htm
Chapter 16 of the West Virginia Code states that any hotel or restaurant infested with bed bugs must be properly fumigated, disinfected, and renovated for complete extermination.
Legal Code: http://www.wvlegislature.gov/wvcode/chapterentire.cfm?chap=16&art=6§ion=16
Dwellings such as orphanages, detention centers, and other municipally operated institutions in Wisconsin have detailed hygiene and sanitation standards they must meet for pest prevention and control. In addition, extreme caution must be taken to avoid the incidental poisoning of people or other animals when attempting to get rid of pests.
Legal Code: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/register/2001/546b/insert/hfs190.pdf
25 States without specific bed bug laws
While there are several states which don’t write out definitive laws surrounding bed bugs, they all have laws pertaining to reasonable habitability. In a nutshell, this ensures residents that their rental property will meet basic living standards. Necessities such as adequate plumbing, proper heating and air conditioning, a sound building structure, and a property free of pests are all expected as the bare minimum living requirements.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina