Legislation would decide who let the bed bugs bite

LANSING, Mich. — New legislation from state Representative Brandt Iden and state Senator Margaret O’Brien clarifies the duties of landlords and tenants regarding the control and extermination of bed bugs.

The bicameral package would add clarity to what is currently conflicting case law in terms of responsibility for the costs associated with controlling and exterminating an infestation of bed bugs, which are not naturally occurring pests.

“Bed bugs are costly to exterminate and are usually brought into rental homes or apartments through no fault of the landlord,” said Iden, R-Oshtemo. “These bills will set standards for getting rid of these disgusting pests as well as who bears responsibility for the cost in these situations.”

O’Brien said the bills are in response to the increasing frequency of bed bug infestations that have occurred during the past few years.

“This is a common sense set of standards that are easy to understand and apply,” said O’Brien, R-Portage. “Even if they are exterminated at the source, bed bugs can easily spread.”

The bills clarify that a landlord must take action to inspect an area after receiving written notice of bed bugs and implement control or extermination protocols if an infestation is found. Landlords also are prohibited from leasing premises with a known bed bug infestation under the bills. The legislation further specifies that tenants are responsible for providing written notice to their landlord should they suspect bed bugs.

The party responsible for the bed bugs would bear the cost of extermination under the legislation.

Senate Bill 294 was referred to the Senate Local Government Committee, and House Bill 4520 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.