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Erin Eberlin

At What Point Do Bed Bugs Become the Tenantís Responsibility?

By May 18, 2011

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Bed Bug
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Here's a story about the measures Fox News took in 2007 to try and rid their New York City headquarters of a bed bug infestation. Employees suffered bites and one, Jane Clark, went so far as to file suit in 2008, becoming the first employee to sue a commercial landlord over a bed bug issue.

New York Supreme Court Judge Carol Edmead, dismissed the lawsuit in early April of 2011, stating that Fox News did everything in their power to get rid of the problem, including hiring bed bug sniffing dogs, moving to another part of the building and eventually resorting to searching employees' homes. It was eventually found that an employee of Fox had bed bugs at their home and was the source of the re-infestation in the office.

Bed bugs are a frustrating issue for everyone involved. However, this case brings to light the fact that the landlord isn't always the bad guy. As with the Fox News case, when the landlord has done everything in his or her power to get rid of the bugs, shouldn't the tenant's accountability come into play? If a tenant is constantly going to another home or office with a known bed bug infestation, why shouldn't they be monetarily responsible for clearing the infestation?†As a landlord, you can't inspect every person who enters a tenant's apartment or prohibit a tenant from going to a certain place.

So, although a landlord's hands are tied by how proactive a tenant wants to be in preventing or treating a bed bug problem, it seems the landlord's wallet always has to be open.

Have you ever had to deal with a bed bug problem? How far would you go to eradicate it? Do you think a landlord is always responsible for getting rid of the problem, even if the tenant is the one who is causing the re-infestation?

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