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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 32154
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I live in North Carolina and am renting an apartment. I've

Customer Question

I live in North Carolina and am renting an apartment. I've notified my apartment management of bed bugs in my unit. They advise it is my responsibility to pay for treatment. I pay for pest control every month. Is this right?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

Generally they are correct in a case like bed bugs. If you can prove there is an infestation coming from other apartments or that they were there when you moved in then you could likely hold them responsible but it is unlikely other than that.

You state "I pay for pest control every month". Do you pay that to the apartment complex, to a pest control company, etc.?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I pay a monthly pest control fee to the Apartment complex. If they don't pay for the treatment, am I obligated to have the treatment done?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.

You would have to look at 1) the lease for the apartment and 2) the pest control agreement.

As far as the actual law, if you didn't have it done then anyone else who gets bedbugs could sue you for the damages, the apartment complex could sue you for the cost of them getting the place exterminated when you leave or if they get a complaint from any of the adjoining apartments they could sue you for the cost they will incur in treating those and possibly additional apartments to prevent the spread.

It is also conceivable that the issue could be considered a "threat to public health" and they could use it as grounds for an attempted eviction. Most leases have language in there that covers this in general terms and even if the language isn't present many judges will allow evictions if they find that there is a public health issue. I've never seen it with bedbugs but I have seen it with general cleanliness issues where there are roaches spreading, smells, etc.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
With respect to Pest control, my lease reads: Tenant shall do nothing that would cause, permit,or otherwise allow or exacerbate any insect infestation in the leased premises. Tenant shall immediately notify Agent of any insect infestation in the leased premises. Tenant agrees to comply fully with any insect or bed bug treatment plan as presented by Agent. In the event that the Tenant fails to: (1) grant Agent or its pest control vendor access to the leased premises for pest inspection and treatment, (2) prepare the leased premises for treatment per Agent's specific requests, or (3) permanently remove infested personal property from the leased premises per Agent's request, then Tenant shall be in default of the lease agreement and liable for any damages or losses incurred by Landlord and Agent as a result.Does "comply fully" in the language above mean I have to pay for the treatment? It reads more like I'm to cooperate and not hinder their treatment plan.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.

It is vague. It hints that you are just supposed to cooperate but the first and third sentences could be read to place the burden on you unless you can somehow prove that you weren't the cause of the bedbugs coming into the apartment in the first place.

What the landlord's lawyer will argue is that you violated the first sentence by bringing bedbugs into the apartment. Then, when the landlord told you to spray for them that was their "treatment plan" and if you don't do it then you are in default.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 6 months ago.

You might be able to beat them if you went to court but if you lost you would have to pay for their lawyer plus the costs of the treatment (and their lawyer would likely be two to three times the cost of the treatment).

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