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Don’t Let Them Bite: Defining the Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants in the Event of a Bedbug Infestation
By Samuel R. Gilbert
Bedbug infestations are becoming a national crisis. The bugs are difficult to detect and inflict psychological, physical, and financial harm on their human victims. Infestations can quickly grow and spread to new areas, especially in the multiunit apartment setting. The common law doctrines of constructive eviction and the implied warranty of habitability do not satisfactorily resolve landlord-tenant disputes because both doctrines rely on fault, which is difficult to prove in the bedbug context. Moreover, neither doctrine has developed or been applied uniformly, which leaves landlords and tenants uncertain about their respective duties and discourages prompt treatment of infestations by pest control professionals. A recently enacted and comprehensive Maine statute allocates treatment costs to landlords without a showing of fault, but contains problematic inspection and disclosure provisions, among other defects. This Note draws on common law principles and builds on the Maine statute in proposing that states enact legislation that clearly defines tenants’ and landlords’ obligations regarding notification, inspection, access, compliance, disclosure, and treatment costs. Central to this model legislation is a no-fault cost-allocation regime that allows landlords to spread infestation-treatment costs among tenants over time.
About This Content
Keywords: Gilbert, Bedbug, Tenant, Landlord
Content Type: Note
Media Type: Print
Author: Samuel R. Gilbert
Publish Date: November 2011
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