A new state law in sunny California is designed to combat bedbugs, and requires California landlords to provide tenants with written information about these tenacious blood suckers and how to report the suspected pest infestations to the landlord.
The disclosure requirement took effect for new tenants July first, and will apply to existing tenants January first.
The law also prevents landlords from showing or renting a vacant unit with an active infestation, and from retaliating against tenants who report the bedbugs problems. It does not require them to inspect rental units for bedbugs if they have not recieved a complaint, or have not personally seen them.
But it does require them to notify tenants within two days of a pest inspector’s findings. It also requires tenants to cooperate with the detection and treatment of bedbugs.
The law does not say what landlords must do when tenants complain. In California, however, residential leases have an “implied warranty of habitability” that requires landlords to maintain rental units in a condition fit for humans.
That includes keeping it free of rodents and vermin, said Whitney Prout, a staff attorney with the California Apartment Association, which represents landlords.
“Why bedbugs have their own law is that they are a harder pest to treat,” Prout said. “It requires early detection and integrated pest management between the landlord and tenant, because of how pervasively they can take over.”
Bedbugs feed on blood, mostly human and usually at night. “Adults are the size, shape and color of an apple seed. Eggs are the size, shape and color of a sesame seed,” said Tami Stuparich, a vice president with California American Exterminator Co.