What is my recourse if my rental has bedbugs but the landlord won’t do anything about it?

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What is my recourse if my rental has bedbugs but the landlord won’t do anything about it?

I live in a boarding house type building, and have a month to month lease. We have a horrible bedbug infestation that the landlords have chosen to ignore. Another tenant is being blamed with the starting of the infestation so I am not being held responsible for starting it. It is at the point where I cannot sleep until the sun comes up and they go away for awhile. I have also begun inserting spray receipts in with my rent check and deducting it from my rent. I want to know if I can put my rent in an escrow account until something is worked out with these people and not be evicted. I think I would love to go to court actually.

Asked on June 27, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

The law regarding this issue varies from state-to-state. That having been said, the general rule is that the landlord must treat and pay for the extermination of bedbugs. It is an infestation much the same as roaches, mice, etc. Under the circumstances, your landlord should exterminate your whole building. This all has to do with something known as the "implied warranty of habitability." This is like a guarantee that the rental premises must be in a safe and sanitary condition (i.e  "habitable") and this includes pest or bug infestations.

If a landlord breaches this warranty, there are several potental remedies, you can: sue for monetary damages; pay to fix the problem and then deduct the cost from your rent; get a court order that forces your landlord to correct the situation; and/or terminate your lease without penalty.

At this point, you should consult directly with an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant matters or speak with a tenant's rights group in your area. If you don't follow al legal procedures, you could find yourself in trouble.


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