Bed Bug Infestations – Part 1

Bed Bug Infestations – Best Practices: Part 1

Since infestations are relatively new in the Toronto region, relationships between tenants and landlords have become increasingly strained as whose responsibility for what is uncertain. Hopefully, these guidelines will help alleviate some of that pressure.

When an infestation is discovered, who is responsible?

If a tenant discovers a bed bug infestation in their rental unit, they should immediately call their landlord, superintendent or property manager. Once notified, the pest’s removal is the responsibility of the landlord, not the tenant. The tenant, however, is responsible for cooperating with the landlord’s efforts to eradicate the bugs.

Is the landlord allowed to enter the apartment? If so, when?

Since the care of the building is their responsibility, landlords do have the right to enter, inspect and maintain rental units. They have to, however, give notice in writing 24 hours prior to entry. They may only enter the unit between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm. Tenants can let landlords in at any time, without written permission, if they choose to do so. In the case of an emergency, the landlord does not have to give notice at all. Since treating a rental unit for bed bugs is NOT considered an emergency, the landlord still has to ask for permission to enter, especially since it takes time to prepare the unit properly before extermination.

What if the tenant reports bed bugs? Can the landlord evict them?

Absolutely not. Landlords can only evict tenants if they have just cause, and only after they get an order from the Landlord and Tenant Board. The reasons for eviction must be stated in the Residential Tenancies Act. If you have bed bugs in your home and your landlord isn’t doing anything about it, the best thing you can do is report it. You’ll be doing you and your neighbours a favour.

If neighboring units have bed bugs too, do they have to cooperate?

Yes. The landlord has the right to enter, inspect and treat their homes as well. This is actually the best course of action; if they’re not all eradicated, the problem will most likely persist.

Who pays the exterminator? The landlord, or the tenant?

Unfortunately for the landlord, treatment costs are their responsibility. If the tenant causes unnecessary expenses, such as missing pest control appointments, the landlord can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order to charge the tenant. The Board will make the final decision, but the tenant will be given an opportunity to explain.

Want to learn more about bed bug infestation best practices? Come back next week for Part 2.