Miller: Bed Bug Legislation Will Hurt Tenants

HARTFORD- A costly bill being raised for public hearing in the legislature’s Housing Committee would permit a landlord to force their tenants to pay for all the expenses submitted by an exterminator to rid an apartment of bed bugs according to State Rep. Lawrence Miller.

The legislation proposed is called “An Act Concerning The Rights And Responsibilities Of Landlord And Tenants Regarding Bed Bug Infestation”. It would require landlords to notify tenants “fully and accurately” of his experience with bed bugs on his property. The tenant must then provide the landlord, in writing, of any experience he may have had in previous rental units. If the landlord finds bed bugs in the tenant’s apartment, the landlord could force the tenant to pay for all cost submitted by the exterminator to rid the apartment of these insects.

Bedbugs are not dangerous but some individuals may have an allergic reaction to their bite. These insects are about 1/8 to 3/8 long, can go as much as 60 days without a blood meal, and usually die within a year. The female bed bug lays 3 to 5 eggs per day. They require 5 to 10 days to digest their blood meal. These insects can be found in nursing homes, trains, movie theaters, and scores of other locations. They are usually nocturnal and because they are so thin are able to hide behind wallpaper. These bugs can travel 100 feet per night in search of a meal. However, usually, they stay about 8 feet from their hiding place.

“Connecticut real estate remains dismal, yet rental units are in high demand. This bill gives the landlord the opportunity to blame a tenant for a bed bug infestation even though they might have not brought the bugs into the building. It may take the exterminators more than one treatment to kill these bugs and the costs are high. It is difficult or impossible to assign responsibility because our population is so transient,” said Miller.

Miller said, “This bill will negatively affect rental agents, could increase costs for tenants, and may cause increased litigation. Landlords should not be able to assign costs to tenants when it might be the landlord’s visitors that brought the bug in. What’s next, going after a tenant for ants in the building or wood boring bees?”

Currently there has been resurgence in the population of bed bugs in the country, especially in the Northeastern. During the 1940s and 1950s insecticides such as DDT was used to kill cockroaches, another benefit provided by the use of DDT was that it killed bed bugs, bed bugs were almost eradicated at that time.

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