Are Bed Bugs the Landlord’s or the Tenant’s Responsibility? Renting and Pest Control
By |Published On: 25th April 2019|

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Are Bed Bugs the Landlord’s or the Tenant’s Responsibility? Renting and Pest Control

By |Published On: 25th April 2019|

This article is an external press release originally published on the Landlord News website, which has now been migrated to the Just Landlords blog.

Tips from a pest control specialist

If everything goes well, the average landlord and tenant don’t have that many encounters during the course of their rental agreement. So with a pinch of luck, the tenancy period passes uneventfully.

However, a problem in a rental can quickly heat the communication, cause arguments and even prompt the sides to take legal actions against one another. One of the frequent problems for landlords and renters around the UK are the pest invasions, and bed bugs in particular.

Why bed bugs, you ask?

Because it’s very difficult to know exactly what caused the infestation in the first place. Besides, it’s not always possible to pinpoint the exact moment when the insect was introduced to the rental. Hence, you can’t just point a finger at somebody in particular and tell them to deal with it.

Who’s responsible to get rid of the bed bugs then?

We know that the answer is complex and depends on the situation. There are some general rules in place that each landlord and tenant should be aware of while engaged in renting:

The Landlord’s Responsibilities:

In general, landlords are responsible to provide livable conditions for their tenants. This also holds true throughout the lease period. Meaning that if the property needs any significant work such as renovation, for example, all costs will be payable by the homeowner.


  1. Homeowners are responsible for the health and well-being of those who live in close proximity to their property.
    This means that their actions (or lack thereof) have consequences and they shouldn’t endanger their neighbours in any way. So, if the rental gets infested by bed bugs, it’ll be the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that the problem doesn’t spread.
  2. If a landlord refuses to take care of the bugs even though he is accountable to do so, the tenant can notify the local council.
    In return, the council will conduct an investigation to find out what’s going on and may force the homeowner to resolve the problem. Needless to say, this isn’t a desired outcome for the homeowners.

My apartment has bed bugs, what are my rights?

Can I sue for bed bugs in my apartment?

So, to resolve the matter quickly:

If a pest infests the rental, and this is true especially for bed bugs, the landlord has to see if the infestation happened prior to the new tenant moving in. If yes, he should pay for a professional exterminator. However, if the infestation has been introduced by the new tenants, they will have to deal with the problem and pay for the costs of the treatment.

Tenant’s Responsibilities:

Upon signing the lease, each tenant agrees to take care of the property and to leave it in the best possible condition with an expected degree of wear and tear.

This said it becomes obvious that renters should deal with the occurred bed bug problem if it happened after the beginning of the tenancy.

Additionally, the tenant bears full responsibility to get rid of the bugs if he failed to notify the landlord on time. Why? Because postponing a bed bug treatment often results in them spreading all over the property and sometimes even to the neighbouring households.

It’s tricky to find out how and when the insects were brought in. A professional exterminator will have the best guess. So, if the tenant has found bed bugs, he should:

  • Double-check the lease agreement to see if there’s anything in it about pest infestations. Some agreements will have a separate clause and others will not. No matter the case, it’s always good to take a second look at the agreed terms and conditions before taking any further actions.
  • Inform the landlord about the infestation as soon as possible. The sooner it gets resolved, the better for all parties involved.

What to do if a rental is infested with bed bugs

Responsibility aside, there are two options to deal with the bugs – either with professional extermination or with DIY solutions. Both have their pros and cons which we’ll explore below:

DIY treatments

The most recommended methods are cheap in comparison to a professional service. Moreover, whoever is conducting the treatment is in control of what substances are being used inside the property. And with enough patience, persistence and thoroughness, the bed bugs can be destroyed without using a single chemical solution.

A quick Google search returns many tips on how to treat bed bugs on your own. But since the insects are extremely resilient, not all solutions are effective enough to kill the entire bug colony.

This is why it’s better to use those DIY solutions as an addition to a professional treatment. Additionally, if the person who’s about to deal with the infestation fails to do thorough research, and as a result fails with the DIY treatment, this can cause financial losses, a waste of time and effort, and potentially further spreading of the infestation.

Professional pest control

Now, a bed bug treatment done by professional exterminators is far less time-consuming. And the experts have daily encounters with the insects, which really makes them knowledgeable as to what and how to do it to achieve the best results.

However, a professional pest control procedure for bed bugs is far more expensive than a DIY solution. There are also procedures such as Heat Treatment that do not involve the use of insecticides but it is usually even more expensive than the chemical treatments against bugs.

How to prepare for a professional treatment

To get rid of the bugs once and for all, the homeowner and tenant will have to join forces and help the expert conduct the procedure in the most favourable environment.

This means that they need to:

  • Remove clutter from the rental to ensure that areas needing treatment are easily accessible;
  • Clear up closets, shelves, drawers and nightstands for the same reason;
  • Remove all bedding and wash it with hot water. Do the same with all clothes and household fabrics;
  • Vacuum all rooms thoroughly and dispose of the bag;
  • Consult with the exterminator on what to do with infested items that can’t be treated;
  • Vacate the property during the treatment and make sure there are no pets either

As a conclusion, we can safely say that no matter who is responsible for dealing with bed bug problems in a rental, constant and kind communication between all parties involved can save a lot of headaches and stress.

About the Author: Em Morley (she/they)

Em is the Content Marketing Manager for Just Landlords, with over five years of experience writing for insurance and property websites. Together with the knowledge and expertise of the Just Landlords underwriting team, Em aims to provide those in the property industry with helpful resources. When she’s not at her computer researching and writing property and insurance guides, you’ll find her exploring the British countryside, searching for geocaches.

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