Arizona, joins Maine, Illinois, and New York as the first states to have enacted substantive bed bug related legislation. Governor Jan Brewer signed into law legislation assigning various responsibilities to landlords and tenants pertaining to bed bugs in multi-family housing.
Under Arizona’s new law, landlords will be obligated to provide existing and new tenants with educational materials on bedbugs and prohibited from knowingly leasing a bed bug infested dwelling unit. The legislation also requires tenants to notify the landlord of a bed bug infestation and disallows them from knowingly moving bed bug infested materials into a dwelling unit.
While there is some good news about the upcoming bed bug legislation, as always there will be confusion involved because either a landlord or a tenant does not understand the new law and the main question(s) will be:
- “Who’s paying for the Bed Bug Treatment?”
- Were there bed bugs already here?
- Did you have bed bugs at your last place?
- Landlord needs to have a solid Bed Bug Protocol established within their leases as a normal part of their rental business.
- Maintain a budget for pest control and bedbug remediation to avoid excessive treatment costs. (An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.) Hire and maintain a professional Pest Management Company, and keep detailed treatment records - before the bed bugs get started or the tenant moves in.
- General pest control services does not constitute treatment for Bed Bugs. A good Pest Management company will provide an actual Bed Bug program – get it in writing.
- Tenants need to do their part as well – understand lease upon moving in – find out what does it say about bedbugs? Make an inspection prior to moving in. Hire a Pest Management Professional to verify there are no bed bugs in your new potential home, and on your personal belongings that you are moving in. This level of responsibility may protect your liability for the cost of bed bug treatment.
- Also, once living in the rental – tenants must take immediate action within 3 days to properly notification to your landlord in a timely manner that you believe you have bed bugs.
- You must also allow the inspections and treatment to be made on a timely basis by a professional exterminator.
- If and only if your landlord is unresponsive (and you can prove you followed the rules) do you have a chance of being reimbursed for the fees of a bed bug treatment performed by a professional you hire. You must give your landlord the proper notices and chance to resolve the problem first. Don’t take matters into your hands, and expect reimbursement.
- Don’t assume you won’t be responsible for the treatment costs, and although the law spells out some reimbursement costs and rights you have, check your lease – you could have signed a lease that specifically states you are responsible for bed bug treatment.
- Also, you may have to prove you met your responsibilities to maintain your dwelling to be free of bed bugs. If you bring home a mattress or a couch from a yard sale – you could also bring home bed bugs.
- While the law stipulates reimbursement may not be more than $500 or up 1/2 the rent whichever is greater, generally this is only a small portion of the actual costs to remediate bedbugs, especially a severe infestation.
Please read, learn and understand the new laws before assuming you have some new Right to Bed Bug treatment at no charge, and most importantly keep detailed records of what you have done either as a landlord or a tenant, and of course use a professional pest management company like Invader Pest Management. I suggest that both Landlords and Tenants make all their notifications to one another in writing, and that all leases be thoroughly reviewed before entering into.
This section is the meat of the bed bug legislation -
33-1319. Bedbug control; landlord and tenant obligations; definitions A.
A landlord has the following obligations with respect to a bedbug infestation:
- As a portion of its obligations under section 33-1324, the landlord shall maintain the dwelling unit free of an infestation of bedbugs.
- The landlord shall provide existing tenants with a copy of this section on or before September 1, 2011 by personal delivery or first class mail and shall provide new tenants with a copy of this section on commencement of a new lease. The landlord also shall provide educational materials to existing and new tenants. Educational materials may include: (a) A description of measures that may be taken to prevent and control bedbugs. (b) Information about bedbugs, including a description of their appearance. (c) A description of behaviors that are risk factors for attracting bedbugs such as purchasing renovated mattresses, using discarded mattresses and furniture, using used or leased furniture, purchasing pre-owned clothing and traveling without proper precautions. (d) Information provided by the United States centers for disease control and prevention and other federal, state or local health agencies. (e) Information provided by federal, state or local housing agencies. (f) Information provided by nonprofit housing organizations.
- The landlord shall not enter into any lease agreement with a tenant for a dwelling unit that the landlord knows to have a current bedbug infestation.
- Within seven business days after receiving written or electronic notice of a possible bedbug infestation from a tenant, the landlord or the landlord’s licensed pest control applicator shall visually inspect the dwelling unit for bedbugs. Within seven business days after finding evidence that a bedbug infestation exists in the dwelling unit, the landlord shall start the process of mitigation of the bedbugs in the dwelling unit.
- Unless the landlord is a licensed applicator, the landlord shall not use any pest control techniques that constitute mitigation and shall use for mitigation a pest control applicator who is licensed pursuant to title 32, chapter 22.
- The landlord shall provide the tenant with written notice of the bedbug mitigation treatment protocol at least three business days before the initial treatment. Notice shall be deemed received by the tenant on the date the notice is personally delivered or mailed first class.
- Unless otherwise provided in this section, the landlord is responsible for the bedbug mitigation expenses for the dwelling unit and any surrounding units that are infested.
B. A tenant has the following obligations with respect to a bedbug infestation:
- As a portion of the tenant’s obligations under section 33-1341, the tenant shall maintain the dwelling unit free of an infestation of bedbugs.
- The tenant shall not move materials into a dwelling unit that are infested with bedbugs.
- A tenant who knows of the presence of bedbugs shall provide the landlord written or electronic notification of the presence of bedbugs in the dwelling unit within three business days. Notice that is provided by the tenant pursuant to this paragraph constitutes permission to the landlord to enter the dwelling unit for the sole purpose of inspecting for or mitigation of bedbugs.
- After receiving notice from the landlord of a bedbug inspection or mitigation as provided in subsection (a) of this section, the tenant shall allow the landlord and the landlord’s licensed pest control applicator access to the dwelling unit.
- The tenant shall comply with the bedbug mitigation protocol established by the licensed applicator, which may include pretreatment activities, temporary evacuation of the dwelling unit, post-treatment activities and an obligation to report the ineffective treatment or re-infestation to the landlord within three business days.
- The tenant shall not apply or permit any unlicensed person to apply any bedbug control techniques that constitute mitigation.
- If a landlord fails to inspect and, if necessary, mitigate a bedbug infestation within the time prescribed in subsection A of this section, the tenant shall provide written notice to the landlord of the tenant’s intention to correct the condition at the landlord’s expense. If the landlord fails to correct the condition within ten days after being notified by the tenant in writing, the tenant may cause the work to be done by a licensed pest control applicator, submit to the landlord an itemized statement for the pest control services and deduct from any rent due the actual and reasonable cost of the pest control treatment not to exceed five hundred dollars or one‑half of the monthly rent, whichever is greater.
- If the tenant fails to comply with any of the obligations prescribed in this section, the tenant may be held financially responsible for bedbug mitigation expenses for the dwelling unit and surrounding units that are infested.
C. The landlord and tenant of a single family residence may agree that the tenant is responsible for bedbug mitigation as provided in section 33‑1324, subsection c.
D. A landlord is deemed to have successfully mitigated a bedbug infestation on completion of bedbug treatment by a licensed pest control applicator.
E. This section does not limit the landlord’s or tenant’s rights and obligations under this chapter.
F. Except as specifically provided in this section, this section does not create a cause of action against: 1. A landlord or a landlord’s employees, officers, agents and directors by a tenant or a tenant’s guests for any damages caused by bedbugs. 2. A tenant by a landlord for any damages caused by bedbugs.
G. For the purposes of this section:
- “Bedbug mitigation expenses” means the reasonable and necessary cost of the pest control treatment or treatments and may include the cleaning, removal and replacement of flooring if reasonably required by the degree of infestation.
- “Bedbugs” means any insect in the genus cimex and its eggs.
- “Infestation” or “infested” means that the presence of bedbugs is sufficient to materially affect the health and safety of tenants and their guests.
- “Mitigation” means the process undertaken by a pest control applicator who is licensed pursuant to title 32, chapter 22 to attempt to eliminate or manage the infestation of bedbugs by poisoning, spraying, fumigating, trapping or any other recognized and lawful pest control method, including repeated applications of any treatment, particularly to areas where bedbugs are likely to congregate.
- “Surrounding unit” means a dwelling unit that shares a common wall with, or that is directly above or below, another dwelling unit.
Get the explanation by reading the entire Arizona bed bug legislation.
If you have a bed bug infestation, contact Phoenix pest control company Invader Pest Management right away. The longer you wait, the more bed bugs there will be.