You've Got Bugs...Bed Bugs!
As we head into the spring season, bed bugs might come up again in your rental property. While Bed Bugs are not typically common, we get calls here at RHAWA with members trying to handle a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs aren't medically harmful but they do cause small red bites on the skin and cause lots of irritation. It's never a good idea to just let the bed bugs live in your rental. Lack of response to the infestation is bad for tenant relations and is against the law.
Here are some quick things to consider when it comes to bed bugs:
Take them seriously
If your tenants report bed bugs, seek out a consultation with a specialist right away. Find out the extent of the infestation and what the best steps are to stop further infestation. Although bed bugs aren't deadly, people bitten by them can suffer from anxiety, depression, and paranoia. They will not go away and your tenants won't necessarily solve the problem on their own. Use the RHAWA Vendor Directory to find a professional.
Don't go it alone
Speaking of professionals, while many of our members do much of their own maintenance and repairs, this is an area where hiring a professional is essential. They will discuss treatment options with you which can include chemicals, heat, or fumigation. Most store-bought products no longer work (the bugs have become resistant) and that means finding a solution requires professional help. Bed bugs require a specific environment and DIY remedies can drive them further into hiding or into other units (in the case of a multi-family property).
Get the problem solved, regardless of cost
If your tenant directly caused the bed bugs or brought them in, it is their responsibility to pay for the extermination. However, regardless of who the final bill goes to, the problem must be solved right away. As a housing provider, you should call the bed bug specialist and have the problem solved and then work with your tenant(s) on the expense of the treatment.
Bed bugs can survive with no nutrients or water for up to a year. Work with your bed bug professional to find all the places within the home they might be hiding including baseboards, moldings, and walls. You'll want to investigate thoroughly to make sure that you have eliminated the bed bug problem. Follow professional advice and make sure to dispose of and destroy any affected furniture. You don't want someone picking up a bed bug infested item from the side of the road or local dumpster!
Follow the professionals
Whatever mitigation or extermination advice the professional might suggest should be followed to the letter. Bed bug infestations can last a very long time if not dealt with in a timely manner. Follow their suggestions and you can be rid of your bed bugs.
Don't forget to use the RHAWA Bed Big Addendum to certify that your rental was bed bug free at time of move-in. The addendum also binds the tenant to good housekeeping practices and also requires them to cooperate with any treatment that may be required.
If you have a rental with a bed bug infestation, find a professional in our Vendor Directory.