Who Pays to Treat Bed Bugs, Landlord or Tenant?
The Law Requires the Landlord to Address a Bed Bug Problem. The Law Also Requires the Tenant to Co-operate and Reasonably Assist the Process.
A Helpful Guide For How to Determine Whether the Landlord or the Tenant is Responsible for Exterminating Bed Bugs
Frustratingly, bed bug infestations have increased significantly in recent years and dealing with a bed bug infestation may be a highly disruptive and costly process. Reasonably so, landlords often worry about the multiple treatments required to eradicate bed bugs and a landlord will often ask if the costs may be passed through to the tenants, especially where the landlord may believe the tenants are the source of the infestation. However, as bed bugs are a concern relating to a maintenance issue, such is governed by section 20 of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, Chapter 17 which explicitly says:
20 (1) A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.
Accordingly, it is the responsibility of a landlord to address a bed bug infestation. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant may be within rights to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order to determine if the landlord failed to meet the statutory maintenance obligations. The tenant may do this by filing an Application, known as a T6 application, with the Landlord Tenant Board. If the tenant is successful at a Landlord Tenant Board hearing, the tenant may be entitled to a rent abatement and/or compensation for belongings which may have been discarded as a result of the inaction, being failure to address the bedbug issue, by the landlord.
Although the landlord is duty bound by the statute and therefore is ultimately responsible to take prompt and proper steps for the treating of a bed bugs situation, the tenants are duty bound and required to co-operate and participate in the process to assist and ensure the timely, effective, and hopefully successful, efforts of the landlord. Pest control companies provide detailed instructions outlining how to prepare the rental unit for treatment. This will often include removing excess items from shelves, laundering all bedding and clothing, and moving furniture away from the walls. If the tenant fails to adequately prepare the unit for treatment the landlord may incur additional costs due to unproductive or additional visits by the pest control company. Where the tenant failed to co-operate and participate in the process, and thereby failed to adequately assist the landlord in the eradication process, the landlord may apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board in an attempt to recover the additional costs caused by the tenant. When attempting to recover the additional costs, it is the landlord who must prove that the tenant failed to co-operate and thereby caused increased costs to the landlord.
Generally, the treatment of bed bugs falls within the maintenance responsibility of a landlord. A tenant is required to act reasonably in assisting the landlord in the eradication of bed bugs by enabling access to exterminators, among other things. If the tenant impairs eradication efforts, the tenant may be liable to the landlord for aggravating expenses incurred by the landlord.