Vacations are fun... until you get home and realize you've brought a hoard of bed bugs with you. Simply putting your luggage on a hotel bed can introduce your belongings to these annoying pests.
So now what? How do you get rid of them? Does renter's insurance cover bed bugs?
The answer is a little more complicated than "yes" or "no". We've put together a guide to help you figure out who's responsible for bed bugs when you're renting.
So keep reading below.
Does Renter's Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?
The short answer to this question is no.
Your renter's insurance covers property damage that's caused by accidental or sudden insured perils, but it's also subject to exclusions. And bed bugs are one of those exclusions.
Bed bug damage isn't really sudden or accidental. It might seem that way, but a bed bug infestation takes a while to develop and—while you certainly didn't plan for it to happen—doesn't qualify as an accident. You can live with bed bugs in your house for several months before you even notice the first bite.
On top of that, most renter's insurance doesn't cover any type of damage that comes from vermin, rodents, or bugs. This means your insurance can't compensate you for any damage inflicted to you, your belongings, or your home by bed bugs.
And when it comes down to it, you're in charge of your home environment. Preventing and dealing with any type of infestation is your responsibility as a renter.
Because of these reasons, renter's insurance will not cover bed bugs.
Does Your Landlord's Insurance Cover Bed Bugs?
Now, in some cases, your landlord's insurance might be able to cover bed bug damage for you.
But this is uncommon.
Most commercial insurance policies—which your landlord will have—also have exclusions for rodent, vermin, and bug infestations. If your landlord as a standard insurance policy, they won't be able to cover bed bugs either.
Some landlords, on the other hand, have specialized bed bug insurance coverage. This type of insurance does cover bed bug damage.
It's important to ask your landlord about their insurance if you think you have a problem with bed bugs in your rental home. While many won't be able to cover you, a few may have the ability to help you.
Can You Hold Your Landlord Liable for Bed Bug Damage?
Again, you are responsible for the living environment in your home. It can be difficult to hold your landlord—or anyone else, for that matter—liable for the bed bugs in your home.
But there are a few exceptions.
It depends on where you live. You might be able to take some type of legal action. Always talk to a lawyer first to get a better understanding of your rights and guidance for what you should do next.
You may also be able to hold your landlord liable for bed bugs if you made them aware of bed bugs in a common area of the building.
To do this, you have to prove the following things:
- The landlord was aware of a bed bug infestation
- The landlord was neglectful
- The bed bugs have impacted your ability to live in the rental home
- Because of the landlord's neglect, the bed bugs have created a loss for you
If the bed bugs only affect your personal rental home, you can't hold your landlord liable for any damages. You must be able to prove the bed bug infestation started in a common area and that the landlord knew about it.
What to Do If You Think You Have Bed Bugs in Your Rental Home
If you think you have a bed bug infestation in your rental home, there are a few steps you should take to handle the problem. Your landlord could still be able to help you, so don't try to fight the infestation by yourself.
So keep an eye out and keep track of any early signs of bed bugs. These can include some or all of the following:
- Black specs in your bed or the surrounding area
- Shed exoskeletons in your bed or the surrounding area
- Small dots of blood in your bed
- Small clusters of bites on any part of your body
- Red bites with a darker spot in the middle
Bed bug bites can be hard to distinguish from mosquito bites. If you only notice one bite, odds are it didn't come from a bed bug. Most bed bug bite appears in small clusters of multiple bites.
If you notice any of these signs in your home, you should do these four things as soon as possible.
1. Report the Problem to Your Landlord
Your landlord is required to provide you with habitable housing. Most courts don't consider a bed bug infested home as habitable.
So let your landlord know about the infestation as soon as you discover it.
They should hire an exterminator to take care of the problem for you. Once they find a qualified exterminator, they'll give you proper notice of entry before the exterminator shows up at your unit.
There might be regulations you have to follow when reporting a bed bug infestation.
Because of this, don't wait more than 48 hours to report the bed bugs. You should also be willing to cooperate with the extermination and any other control measures the landlord uses.
2. Do What You Can to Prevent Further Damage
After you report the problem to your landlord, do what you can to prevent any more damage.
Spend some time cleaning out your room/s and remove any clutter from the space. You should also pull all your clothing and belongings out of your dresser and closet.
Then make sure you wash every piece of clothing and all your bedding. As soon as they come out of the dryer, put them in a sealed plastic bag.
Vacuum your room. Make sure you get along the baseboards and around your bed. You may even have to vacuum the bed itself.
This will keep the infestation from getting any worse while you wait for the exterminator.
3. Get Ready for Extermination
When the exterminator arrives at your rental home, they'll examine the main site of the bed bugs, which is usually a bed or your bedding. They'll also look in other common hiding places, like drawers and shelves, for other signs of bed bugs.
They might recommend throwing away items that can't be treated, including your mattress.
And be prepared to move out during the treatment. Depending on your circumstance, the exterminator might have to fumigate the unit to kill the infestation.
4. Be Prepared to Cover the Cost
In most cases, the landlord will pay for the bed bug extermination. After all, they have to provide you a habitable place to live.
But during the extermination process, the exterminator will likely map the infestation. This will allow them to find out when and (roughly) how the bed bugs got there.
If this mapping shows you recklessly caused the infestation, your landlord can charge you for the cost of the extermination. So be prepared to pay for the price yourself, even if you think theirs a good chance you won't be held responsible.
What If Your Landlord Doesn't Exterminate the Bed Bugs?
Your landlord should hire an exterminator to get rid of the bed bug infestation in your rental home. But that doesn't mean they will. If your landlord refuses to take action, there are a few things you can do in return.
You might want to consider one of the following options:
- Withhold your rent
- Deduct the price of extermination from your rent
- Sue your landlord for the cost of extermination
- Break your lease and move
Again, this depends on the specific laws in your area. You should always talk to a lawyer before doing any of these things to make sure they're within your legal rights.
Understanding Renter's Insurance and Bed Bugs
So does renter's insurance cover bed bugs?
No, but your landlord's insurance might be able to cover it for you. If not, they can still hire an exterminator for you and help you through the process of eliminating the infestation.
You might also be able to take legal action if your landlord refuses to do anything about the problem. But remember to always talk to a lawyer about your options first.
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