Can I be evicted for having bedbugs?

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Can I be evicted for having bedbugs?

I found out that there was bedbugs in my son’s room and told management the same day. Then 3 days later I was asked to vacate in 10 days because of the bedbugs.

Asked on May 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

IF the following conditions are met, you could be evicted for bedbugs:

1) You have yourself caused the bedbugs in some way, such as by bringing in contaminated clothing or bedding from elsewhere.

2) You keep doing the thing which brings bedbugs in, even after being warned by the landlord to stop doing it.

To be evicted for causing an unhealthy or unhealthy condition, it must be due to something you do and you have to first be given a chance to remedy the situation. If you are evicted other than for that, the landlord has commited an illegal or wrongful eviction. You would have grounds to fight it in court, and possibly to seek monetary compensation, too.

On the other hand, the landlord has an affirmative duty to provide rental premises that are fit for their intended purpose--in this case, residence. Unhealthy conditions, such as a bedbug infestation, can violate this obligation, which is called the "implied warranty of habitability." Therefore, landlords have a duty to clear up or deal with pest infestations--it is the landlord's responsibility, not yours (except, as noted, if it can be shown that you are specifically causing it). If the landlord fails to deal with the infestation, the tenant may be entitled to compensation, such as  reduction in rent for the period he or she had to live with it.

You therefore have rights in this case--the right to not be evicted, and the right to have the landlord deal with the bedbugs. (You do need to cooperate with all reasonable guidlines for pest control, such as prepping the apartment, per any rules from the exterminator, for the extermination.) If possible, retain an attorney to help you vindicate your rights; if you cannot afford one, try contacting Legal Services, who provide tenants who cannot afford lawyers with legal support in many landlord-tenant cases. Good luck.


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