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What Happens If Your Rental Becomes Infested with Bedbugs? – Video Extra

In this video, Landlord Gurus founders Chris Lee and Eli Secor discuss bedbugs in rental properties. What are some ways to eradicate bedbugs? Who should pay for these treatments?

Topics in this video include:

  • Chris’ experience with bedbugs [0:38]
  • Who pays for bedbug eradication? [2:41]


Eli Secor: Hi, you got Chris and Eli from Landlord Gurus and this is a particularly off-the-cuff video for us because I was listening to a piece this morning on the radio about how all of Paris is freaking out because there are bedbugs, in the cinema, on the subway, they think.

People don’t feel safe going anywhere because there are bedbugs. So there’s some debate about how much one ought to be alarmed and how bad it actually is. They’re even worried about the Summer Olympics being a year away and that bedbugs are a problem. So anyway, it seemed topical, you know, what does one do if you have bedbugs in your rental?

Chris, you have dealt with this. So you want to just tell us a little bit about what that experience was like? 

Chris Lee: Yeah. I was helping a property owner who had a new tenant come in and, within a few weeks or a couple of weeks of them moving in, they said there were bedbugs. They were obviously freaked out and they were getting bites, and whatever.

And, obviously wanted something to be done immediately. So, we didn’t know much about bug bed bugs. I didn’t know much about bed bugs at the time. And so, we had a pest control company come in and they said they could take care of it. The tenants moved out and they bombed the place with the pesticide spray that you do with fleas and whatever else.

Yeah, so they did that. Apparently, the bugs went away for a little while, the tenants moved back in, but then within a few days or a week, they were back. Having done more research at that point, I think maybe even the tenants had heard of a service here in Seattle, and I’m sure they’re everywhere else, but they have dog inspections.

The dogs come in and they can sniff out bedbugs. 

ES: What are they doing though? Are they just pinpointing where they are?

CL: I guess so. I mean, I didn’t actually go into the unit to see because there are bedbugs. But yeah, they bring them in and I think they can pinpoint where they are and whether or not there are bed bugs. 

In this case, they determined, yes, there were bed bugs in this unit, and so they recommended their heat treatment. And apparently, that’s the surefire way to get rid of bed bugs, is heat treatment. I think we just looked this up, it’s 118 degrees for, 60 minutes or something like that, or 120 degrees, whatever it is, yeah, it’s just a heat treatment.

I don’t think that they had to move anything out or they didn’t have to bag anything. It just gets everything in the unit with the heat. So that’s what we did. That worked and haven’t heard anything about it since. So I assume that’s good news.

ES: Yeah. I gather that it’s also good practice, if not necessary with soft goods like bedding and clothing to take it and wash it on max temperature and then dry it on max temperature. Then bag things to isolate them until you know that you’ve got everything cleared up in the space. But they can get behind baseboards. 

CL: Oh, yeah. 

ES: Catching it early, to my understanding, is important. But Chris, who pays? 

CL: That’s a good question. I mean, in this case, the tenants had just moved in a week or two or three weeks or whatever. And so, it was unclear, did they bring them in? Or were they there from the tenant who moved out? You know, really couldn’t tell. The canine pest control, bed bug company, they couldn’t really say as well. 

We did test other units in the building, and nobody else got infested. So it was just strictly limited to that unit, which was good. At the end of the day, the owner ended up paying just cause it was unclear and, obviously, the tenants said we did not bring them in. We didn’t have them before and now we do.

In any other case, it was just simpler and just better to have the owner take care of and deal with it. 

ES: Yeah, I’ve started using an addendum to the lease, that the local Rental Housing Association provides. It provides for some rules where, if anything’s detected, tenants are required to tell landlords, you know, these are the types of problems you want to know about.

internal link Also Read: Setting Up a Lease – Video Extra

They’re also required to cooperate with measures to eradicate them. It also stipulates that they’ll be liable for the expenses of eradicating the bed bugs if it’s determined that they brought them in. So, because I have that form, in that case, I would try to get the service to tell me.

Just like a drain cleaner, you know, did they cause this, blockage in the pipe, you know, is this tenant related? If it’s nowhere else, then maybe that is an indicator that it came in with somebody that had been traveling or that type of thing.

So I think it’s good practice to use an addendum. So, you are covered. 

CL: I would say in any case, I would go ahead and get that service done as soon as possible, even if you haven’t determined who’s at fault or who’s going to end up paying. It’s probably the best practice just to take care of it. But yeah, I mean, that’s a sticky situation as far as identifying who is at fault in something like this.

But better to take care of it, because as you said, it will get worse and it’ll get worse faster. 

ES: Yeah, we can’t have that happen. Okay, well, I thought we’d just touch on that. And, just the last comment is that the dog sounds cute, but from what I’ve heard, that really is the effective way to do it. 

CL: The dogs and the heat, yeah. 

ES: Might as well have some fun, you know, have a dog come out while you’re at it. Anyway, thanks for listening. It’s Chris and Eli from Landlord Gurus. Like and share, and come back and see the other videos we’ve done and visit the site. Thanks for listening.

CL: Bye.

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About Landlord Gurus

Here at Landlord Gurus, our commitment is to provide expert advice on the complex and important issues faced by landlords and property managers. Together we have over 30 years of experience in residential property ownership and management. In addition to sharing our own expertise and experiences, we call on specialists in fields including maintenance, law, tenant management, and more. Where we see topics that require more in-depth discussion, we create insightful articles that provide valuable information and guidance.
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