"Night, night, sleep tight, make sure the bed bugs
don't bite." It's one of those whimsical bedtime farewells guaranteed to
give an over-imaginative child bad dreams. But bed bugs can be a nightmare for
grownups too. And when they pop up in a rental property, or any home come to
that, they're a horrible problem to have.
What are bed bugs?
The bugs are tiny insects which live, unsurprisingly, in
beds, but clothing and furniture can also attract them. Signs of a bed bug
infestation are small bites on the body and spots of blood on bedding.
Thankfully a mild steroid cream can treat bites, although they can disappear on
their own after a few days.
The good(ish) news is that bed bugs don't cause too many
health issues, though their bites can cause itchiness. But it's just the fact
that they're there which grosses most people out. One thing is certain though, if
a bed bug infestation occurs, it needs sorting out. But whose responsibility is
it to foot the bill?
Who needs to act?
So, tenant or landlord, who is responsible for getting rid
of bed bugs? It very much depends when the little critters arrive.
The landlord is responsible for the condition of the
property, this includes it being free from pests and vermin. It is recommended
that the landlord should check
for infestations before every tenancy. They should resolve any problems
with bugs or pests before the tenant moves in.
Equally the landlord is responsible for maintenance. This includes
keeping the property in good repair to prevent easy access for vermin. But bed
bugs are different to an infestation of mice for example. The tenant can carry
them into the property on bedding and clothing, bring them in a suitcase coming
back from holiday or they can breed in unhygienic conditions.
If the tenant introduces the bed bugs to the property, they
could be responsible for dealing with them. I say 'could' because it's very
difficult to prove who is at fault when bed bugs appear. It may be that the
landlord and tenant have to work together to eliminate the problem.
However, if the tenant believes the landlord is at fault but
they won’t rectify the problem, tenants can contact their council's
environmental health team.
Getting rid of bed bugs
As with any pest infestation the advice here is to always
call in the professionals. Pest extermination companies know exactly how to
deal with any infestation. And they will treat the problem faster and more
efficiently than either the tenant or the landlord could. This is because bed
bugs can be resistant to the insecticides available to the public. Professional
pest controllers will know how to quickly get rid of the pests.
Preventing bed bugs
Assuming the property is clear from bed bugs the tenant can
take some simple steps to ensure they don't reappear. Regular vacuuming and
cleaning along with keeping the bedroom clutter free should prevent any bugs
from invading the bed. But tenants should also take care to inspect any
pre-used furniture they buy to ensure bed bugs haven't already taken up
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