In a 2011 survey, 99 percent of pest control companies had encountered bedbug infestations in the past year. Only 11 percent reported infestations in 2001. Any multiple occupant buildings including hotels, apartments, and college dormitories, are at higher risk for bed bug infestations.
Litigation over bedbug issues has skyrocketed, along with the awards to plaintiffs. A woman in Maryland received a settlement of $800,000. InterContinental Hotels Group faces a $7 million lawsuit. Regular inspections and immediate extermination help protect against lawsuits and huge financial liabilities.
Bedbug Laws and Property Liability
One Chicago source estimated 80 to 100 percent of high-rise apartments and buildings have at least one unit infested with bedbugs. State laws require property owners to maintain buildings in habitable condition and free from pests. Hotel safety and sanitation laws similarly regulate conditions and pest control.
The only Illinois statewide bed bug law requires that all railcars be free from bed bugs, but tenant and landlord responsibilities in all states require that landlords provide livable spaces for their tenants, and a bedbug infestation can quickly render a space unlivable. Missouri introduced House Bill 1207 in 2012 to address bed bug issues in multi-family dwellings. It specifies tenant requirements to notify landlords and imposes a duty to act on property owners and managers. Some municipalities may also have their own bed bug ordinances that affect multi-family housing and hotels.
Signs of Bedbug Infestation
Bed bugs hide in the seams and tufts of mattresses and furniture, and even in bed frames and headboards. Hotels and furnished apartments are particularly susceptible due to the number of guests staying in the properties. Property managers, housekeeping staff, and supervisors need to know how to inspect properties for bed bugs so management can act quickly.
Building owners and managers need to educate their tenants about bed bug identification and about ways to reduce the likelihood of infestations. Residents need to know how and why to report an issue to management. Educational materials should be clear about the expected management response to bed bug reports.
Owners of hotels and multi-family dwellings must take reports of bed bug bites and suspected infestations very seriously. A fast, professional response is critical to reduce liability risks for damages and injuries to residents. The costs of ignoring or minimizing these problems far outweigh the cost of professional bed bug remediation treatment.
As plaintiffs seek and receive ever-increasing compensation for damages and injuries, building owners and property managers absolutely must take prompt steps to seek professional bed bug remediation. Owners and managers of multi-unit properties should understand the critical need to act quickly. A qualified, professional bed bug extermination company can help lessen the liability risk when bed bug problems arise.