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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33255
Experience:  Began practicing law in 1992
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I have bedbug infestation in my home and want to break my

Customer Question

I have bedbug infestation in my home and want to break my lease
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year 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. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms. Is there a specific question with which I could assist?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have bedbug infestation in my townhouse and want to break my lease agreement, it is almost impossible to live in this property
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
That's a statement of fact, what question do you have about that?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Whose responsibilty is to pay for treatment,
Can I terminate my lease without penalty
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
Whose responsibilty is to pay for treatment?It depends. As a general rule it would be the obligation of the landlord but it is possible to write a lease in such a way that it is the obligation of the tenant. It would be unusual for a lease to be written that way but it is possible. In addition, if the bedbugs were brought into the townhouse by the tenant, as opposed to spreading from another townhouse, then it could also be the tenant's responsibility to pay for extermination. Can I terminate my lease without penaltyProbably not. Again, a lease could be written that way but if your landlord was the one who provided the lease then it would be extremely unlikely they would have allowed someone to be able to get out of a lease because of insects.If you have asked for the exterminator to spray and the landlord has refused, or the bedbugs keep coming back, and they keep coming back because of something the landlord does (for instance, he doesn't make the tenant next door spray as well which causes a re-infestation) then you can make a claim for what is known as a :constructive eviction". A constructive eviction is where a property owner has done something which makes the property, essentially, unlivable and refuses to fix the condition. If that has happened then you can demand to be released from the lease and, in addition, it is even possible to sue and make the landlord pay for your extra expenses (ex. renting a moving van). To do this you would need to have a local lawyer write the landlord a letter explaining that the infestation is considered a constructive eviction and giving him a chance to correct the problem. If he has already been given a chance to correct then the letter would simply state you are considering this a constructive eviction and notifying him as well as warning that if he sues or places this on your credit report you will counter-sue for those damages. This is a difficult concept for many people to understand so if you have any follow up questions please ask them in this thread.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have asked him to pay for the treatment he refused to do so, I went to court they said tenant will have to pay for it unless the property was infested beforehand, and I think the home was infested before I moved in. I have attached my lease agreement, can you please let me know what would be my best next action?
Is there a way out for me, I do not want to live in this house anymore?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
You stated you "went to court". Did you sue him?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No I did not sue him. Actually I went to Coding Department
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
asked them determine who is responsible
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
My suggestion is to visit with a local lawyer and let them handle it. You can sue for the attorney's fees as well. What they are telling you at the "coding department" is not really correct, since if the landlord owns multiple units and has an infestation in one then they would have a duty to spray the others to prevent the spread.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I live in townhouse is that still true.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
You can sue them yourself in small claims court but these types of cases are actually kind of hard to handle for someone representing themselves since the burden of proof is on you and the landlord is going to say "the bedbugs came from you" and it's hard to prove they didn't.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
I assume the townhouse is the same as the ones I'm used to, where each is connected to the next one by a common wall. If that is so then the bedbugs spread through the carpet and the wall space.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What is likelihood of my winning the case if sue him with a local lawyer?
Have you ever handled similar cases what is your experience with that?
I have been living in this house for 6 months and we had some bites even 1-2 month after we moved in but we never faced with bedbugs before and we did not really know how they look like.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
That's hard to say. If you can find a neighbor who will say they have had a problem then it's 99% that you'd win. If no one says there is a problem then, of course, that makes it harder. The lawyer will probably also call the person that rented the place before you and see if they had problems. Yes, I've handled cases before and they are very fact intensive. If you have good facts you win, if you don't then you will lose. The exterminator can also help with the facts because they can often tell where the bedbugs gained access.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
How close neighboor are counts?
Is it the one next to me
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
I don't think it woul dhave to be the neighbor next to you but it would be very, very hard to prove that the landlord is responsible if a unit further down the row is infested but the ones in between are not (unless they are unoccupied). A jury is going to be pretty good about sorting through the evidence in a case like this.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can you please look at my lease agreement, in indoor maintenance he does not mention any type of extermination, he does mention in outdoor maintenance does this count for me to be responsible for extermination.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
I did look at it. It doesn't appear to address extermination and so there is no solid answer on who is responsible. My feeling is that a jury would likely say if it is a normal type of extermination, roaches for instance, then the tenant would be responsible. However, bedbugs aren't something that are a normal, everyday occurrence. Thus, if there is any evidence that other tenants have had bedbugs then the owner is responsible for the extermination.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
However, the language in the "Outdoor Maintenance" suggests that you would be responsible for the cost of exterminating even inside the location since it says " the premises, if needed."
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did not see early termination of the lease in the agreement, what happens in this case. Can I terminate lease or not?
Do I still need to stay till end of my agreement to avoid any type of penalty?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.
No, as I mentioned at first, you would have to make the case for "constructive eviction" which involves all that we have discussed. There is nothing in your lease or the law that allows you to break a lease solely based on the fact that you have bedbugs in your home.

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