Who foots bill for bedbug removal?

Rent it Right

Q: I moved into my current apartment a couple of months ago, after moving out of a building that I later learned had a bedbug problem. The owner of the first building knew that a few apartments were infested, but took ineffective steps and didn’t tell anyone (nor did the affected tenants).

Shortly after I moved to my new place, I noticed bedbugs … and told the landlord. He’s treating the problem, but wants me to pay for it, saying I brought them in. It’s possible I did — but I got them from my former building. Isn’t the landlord at my old building the one who’s really responsible for the second infestation? –Matty R.

A: Your tale of woe is, unfortunately, becoming more and more familiar. Tenants who have a bedbug problem may hesitate to tell the landlord, let alone other tenants, for fear they’ll be labeled a Typhoid Mary (and told to pay for the cost of eradication).

They may try to handle the problem themselves; even if they get the landlord involved, the landlord too may try to keep the problem under wraps while attempting to rid the individual units of the problem, so as not to lose tenants.