Ask the Advocate

asktheadvocateQ: If I get bedbugs, is my landlord responsible for paying for exterminators?

A: The short answer is that, generally speaking, you are responsible for extermination if your unit is the only one infested, and the landlord is responsible if more than one unit in the rental accommodation is infested.

This general rule applies to the extermination of any vermin including rodents, roaches and other insects including bed bugs. If yours is the only unit infested or you rent a single-family dwelling, there is an important exception to this general rule. Namely, the landlord becomes liable for the extermination if he or she has failed to maintain the premises in a rodent-proof or reasonably insect-proof condition.

The source of a bed bug infestation, however, is particularly difficult to determine, which underscores the fact that pest control ultimately is a shared responsibility. It is critical that landlords and tenants alike do their part to prevent access points or “harborages” (hiding places) for pests of any kind. Tenants in multi-family dwellings should promptly report an infestation to the landlord or management company, and landlords should take immediate remedial steps.

Further information about bed bugs can be found on the D.C. Department of Health website at Doh.dc.gov.

About the Advocate
The D.C. Office of the Tenant Advocate is an independent agency of the District government providing legal assistance, policy advocacy and education and outreach services to District renters. Learn more and contact the agency at Ota.dc.gov or 202- 719-6560. The office says it is the first tenant advocacy voice within any state or city government in the U.S.

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