At the first suspicion of a bed bug infestation, the tenant should notify their landlord. The landlords should then contact a pest control expert to perform an inspection to ensure that there are, in fact, bed bugs, rather than fleas or roaches. Early detection of bed bugs can save all parties time, money, and hassle, so before worrying about who is responsible for the bed bugs, it is imperative to start the identification and removal process.
Investigate the Source
Although this may not be easy to determine, responsibility falls on whoever brought the bed bugs into the house. If the tenant moved in a couple of weeks ago and suddenly has a bed bug infestation, it would be wise to call their previous land lord to see if they left behind any evidence of bed bugs in their old home or apartment. Still, that may be hard to prove, as maintenance people could have brought the bedbugs in. In the case of apartments, it is possible that a neighbor could have brought the bugs in and they could have traveled through floorboards or cracks in the wall.
Not surprisingly, if it can be proven that the tenant brought the bugs in, they are responsible for the cost of removal. If the bed bugs were present before the tenant moved in, the landlord is responsible. Failure to take action by the landlord can result in penalties against the landlord, such as deducting the cost of the exterminator from the rent, breaking the lease, or suing the landlord for not providing a livable dwelling.
The issue of tenant vs. landlord responsibility in the case of a rental property having bed bugs is a heated one. While Michigan does not have specific laws* pertaining to this issue, the language written in existing tenant-landlord laws implies that both parties have certain responsibilities in this matter.
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