What does the law say?
What is the landlord and tenant responsibilities for having bed bugs? Landlords are generally responsible for arranging and paying for bed bug treatment. According to section 32 of the Residential Tenancy Act, landlords must ensure that their rental property is suitable for occupation and compliant with health, safety, and housing standards required by law. In addition, Residential Tenancy Branch Policy Guideline 1 says, “the landlord is generally responsible for major projects, such as … insect control.” If your landlord believes that you caused the infestation, they should still pay for treatment within a reasonable period of time, and then seek to recover compensation from you after the fact.
While it can be somewhat difficult to prove that a tenant caused an infestation, it is more common for a tenant to be found responsible for exacerbating an infestation by not reporting it in a timely manner or not cooperating during the treatment process. If you cause an infestation to spread by unlawfully denying access to your unit or not following the pest management company’s instructions, your landlord could have a valid argument that you should pay for, or at least contribute towards, the cost of treatment.
What to do as a tenant
As a tenant you need to report the problem swiftly and get in contact with your landlord. While if it is the landlords responsibility to exterminate the bed bugs, they could make you pay if they have a case to do so. As a tenant it’s important to take steps to communicate with your landlord to solve this problem. Failure to communicate or stall could give the your landlords a case to make you pay. We recommend you work with your landlord to book an extermination as soon as possible. Being proactive will get rid of your bed bug problem sooner without having to pay for it.
What to do as a landlord
It is your responsibility to exterminate your tenants bed bug infestation. If they do not tell you about the problem right away or resist extermination for any reason, you could make them pay for the treatment. It can be hard to prove who caused the infestation in the first place so by default the landlord has to pay. We recommend you work with your tenant and book an extermination as soon as possible. Time is of the essence before the infestation gets worse.
We figured out what is the landlord and tenant responsibilities for having bed bugs. What is some common tenant/landlord conflicts that arise? It’s common for tenants and landlord to have conflict in this type of a scenario. Generally the landlord does not think it’s fair that they have to pay for a treatment. Typically the tenant that is living there brought bed bugs home unless they were there before the tenant moved in. This is hard to prove. Tensions especially raise when the tenant does not cooperate with the landlord. This can be caused by past problems between two or any reason really. It is also common for the landlord to not cooperate with the tenant for similar reasons. Going to court over this issue is not fun and we recommend they work together for the goal of eliminating their bed bugs. The bottom line is the tenants do not want bed bugs in their living space and the landlord don’t either. It’s in both parties interest to exterminate bed bugs as soon as possible.