What are laws on landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to bedbugs in more than one of their units?

UPDATED: May 24, 2012

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What are laws on landlord’s responsibilities when it comes to bedbugs in more than one of their units?

He has sent a man, who was not a professional, to come in and spray twice but still no improvement. We’ve notified the landlord about the situation and he has not sent anyone back in. The complex is infested.

Asked on May 24, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is something called the "implied warranty of habitability," which is a legal obligation placed on all landlords that the premises they provide be "fit for their intended purpose"--for example, fit to live in. Significant pest infestations can violate this warranty.

When the warranty is breached or violated, the landlord has to take reasonable steps to correct the situation. Note that these steps do not have to work perfectly or the first (or even second) time--as long as the landlord is reasonable trying (e.g. bringing in licensed professionals) to deal with the situation, he or she is complying with this obligation.

If the landlord stops taking steps to deal with the problem, though, without satisfactorially resolving it, that would violate the implied warranty of habitability. In that case, you could potentially do one or more of the following:

1) Break your lease without penalty, if the condition is bad enough;

2) Bring in your own exterminator, then deduct the cost from rent;

3) Sue for monetary compensation for the time you've been living with bedbugs; or

4) Seek a court order directing the landlord to fix the problem.

If it comes to this, seek an attorney's help. (If you can't afford one, trying contacting Legal Services.) If you try to hold the landlord legally accountable for breaching the implied warranty of habitability when the condition isn't bad enough, the landlord is taking all reasonable steps, or you did not provide the landlord proper notice of the problem, you can find yourself liable to the landlord; therefore, it is better to let an attorney help you do this, if at all possible.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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