TAA Board approves new Bed Bug Addendum

By Wendy R. Wilson, TAA General Counsel

The TAA Board of Directors voted at its October 22 meeting to approve a new TAA Bed Bug Addendum, which was made available to members in early November.

The purpose of the addendum is to assist rental owners in maintaining a quality living environment for their residents. In an effort to achieve this goal, the TAA Bed Bug Addendum outlines important information to help residents and owners work together to minimize the potential for any bed bug outbreak in a rental dwelling or apartment community. In addition, it also outlines the responsibilities and potential liabilities of residents and owners when bed bugs are discovered in a rental dwelling. The following information is a summary of the key provisions of the new addendum.

Inspection

In this section, the resident agrees that he or she inspected the dwelling before move-in and did not observe any signs of bed bugs, or that he or she will inspect the dwelling within 48 hours after move-in and notify the rental owner of any bed bugs. The TAA Inventory and Condition form has also been amended to include an ackowledgment from the resident that he or she has inspected the dwelling and found no signs of bed bugs or infestation.

Infestations

This section requires the rental owner to state that no evidence of bed bug infestations were observed in the dwelling or unit prior to the resident’s occupancy. The resident acknowledges in this section that he or she has read the information about bed bugs, which is on page two of the addendum. In addition, the resident is required to disclose information about any exposure to bed bugs in current or previous dwellings.

To this end, the resident can choose from two options: Either (1) the resident has not previously experienced or been subjected to bed bugs in other dwellings and is not aware of bed bugs in any furniture, clothing or personal property, or (2) the resident has previously been exposed to bed bugs, but all of his or her personal property has been treated by a licensed pest control professional and is free from further infestation.

Access for inspections and pest treatment

In this section, the resident is required to fully cooperate with the rental owner and licensed pest control professionals to access to the dwelling at reasonable times to inspect or treat bed bugs. It gives the rental owner the right to select any pest control professional to treat the dwelling, building, common areas or adjacent dwellings. A resident must have his or her personal property treated by a licensed pest control professional, approved by the rental owner, at his or her own expense. Failure to do so is a lease violation and gives the rental owner the right to terminate the resident’s right of occupancy and to exercise all rights and remedies under the lease contract.

Notification

This section provides that the resident must promptly notify the rental owner: of any known or suspected bed bug infestation in the dwelling or personal property; of any recurring or unexplained bites or skin irritations that may be caused by bed bugs or any other pest in the dwelling; and of any discovery that might indicated the presence of bed bugs.

Cooperation

This section reiterates to the resident that there must be cooperation with the rental owner if bed bugs are confirmed. It advises the resident that personal property that cannot be treated or cleaned must be destroyed and disposed of off-site. The rental owner has the right to have the resident to temporarily vacate the dwelling and remove all furniture and personal possessions in order for the rental owner to perform pest control treatments. Failure to cooperate is considered a lease violation and gives the rental owner the right to terminate the resident’s right of occupancy and to exercise all rights and remedies under the lease contract.

Responsibilities

This section addresses the responsibilities of the parties relating to bed bugs. The rental owner has the right to require the resident to pay for all reasonable costs of cleaning and pest control treatment incurred by the rental owner for treating the dwelling for bed bugs, if asked. Likewise, if bed bugs are confirmed in the dwelling after the resident vacates, he or she may also be asked to pay for cleaning and treatment costs.

Residents may also be held responsible for lost rental income and other expenses incurred by the rental owner to move or relocate residents in adjacent dwellings in order to perform pest control treatments in other dwellings.

If the resident fails to pay for any of these costs, he or she would be in default, and the rental owner would have the right to terminate the resident’s right of occupancy and to exercise all rights and remedies under the lease contract. Failure to vacate the dwelling after the right of occupancy has been terminated can result in the resident being liable for holdover rent according to the TAA Lease Contract.

Transfers

The addendum also addresses transfer requests arising because of a bed bug infestation in the dwelling or building. This section provides that if a rental owner allows a resident to transfer to another dwelling, the resident must have all personal property treated by a licensed pest control professional according to accepted methods. The resident must also provide documentation of the cleaning and treatment that satisfies the rental owner.

Bed Bug Information – Page Two of Addendum

This portion of the TAA Bed Bug Addendum provides residents with a variety of information about bed bugs. It offers residents information about identifying bed bugs, preventing infestations, and a list of do’s and don’ts.

Conclusion

With bed bug infestations becoming more prevalent, it is important for rental owners to become more knowledgeable about this pest. While the new TAA Bed Bug Addendum will be helpful in defining the issue for residents and outlining the responsibilities of residents and rental owners, it is important for rental owners and managers and their staffs to become fully educated about bed bugs.

There are a number of excellent resources available both on the TAA website, www.taa.org, and the NAA website, www.naahq.org. Use them! Develop a plan of action to follow when bed bugs are reported on your property, and take preventative measures by inspecting your properties. Identifying bed bugs early can save you headaches, time and money.