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February 28, 2019 |

What Are Your Tenant’s Rights When The Bed Bugs Bite?

Bed bugs are insidious insects that are increasingly becoming a problem in city apartment buildings.

Small insects that feed on the blood of people and animals, bed bugs can be very hard to detect. But if you have an infestation in your rental apartment, you will know it from the dark red or brown smears on your bed sheets, pillowcases, or mattress, all signs of the bugs’ feces. You might also smell the bed bugs’ musty odor. Finally, you might find small, itchy red bumps on your skin, signs that you are getting bitten by bed bugs.

Because they are so hard to get rid of, bed bugs can be a tenant’s nightmare. If you are having trouble with bed bugs in your rental home, a Boston tenant lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you understand your options. The following provides an overview of the problem and recommended first steps to take if you suspect you have bed bugs.

How Bed Bugs Spread

Bed bugs usually are carried into a home in luggage, on clothing, or on other personal items that got infested during travel. A surprising number of hotel rooms have bed bugs. It only takes one bed bug to get an infestation started in an apartment. And once bed bugs enter one apartment, they can easily move to other units in the building.

Bed bugs are often found hidden in:

  • Mattresses and box springs
  • Bed frames and headboards
  • Carpets
  • Baseboards
  • Wallpaper
  • Curtains
  • Clocks, radios, or phones near a bed or on a nightstand
  • Dresser drawers
  • Picture frames

Your Landlord’s Responsibilities

Under Massachusetts law, a landlord or property manager is required to “maintain the dwelling they own without insect infestation.”  Therefore, the landlord must respond to any complaints of bed bugs with an eradication plan.

If you think you have bedbugs, you should write a letter to your landlord that outlines the bedbug problem and specifically requests that he or she hire a licensed exterminator to inspect and treat your apartment and building.

You may also want to call the Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health and request more information on bed bug infestations, as well as an inspection of your entire building. There may be a need to inspect neighboring apartments in order to stop the bedbugs from spreading further. If your landlord and neighboring landlords do not take appropriate eradication steps, the health department can cite them and order fumigation.

When to Call a Boston Tenant Lawyer

If your landlord is not actively working to eliminate the bedbug infestation, you have the right to stop paying your rent until the problem is fixed, but there are procedures you will need to follow to stay in compliance with your lease and the law, such as depositing the rent payment into a separate bank account. If the bed bugs are a lingering problem, you have an allergic reaction to the bites, or you just can’t bear to live in a place with bed bugs, a Boston tenant lawyer can review your options for breaking your lease and leaving your apartment.

To find out more about your rights as a tenant when you find you have a bed bug infestation, contact the Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannifin either through our website or by calling 617-848-4572.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information



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