Recently, there has been an increase in bed bug infestations in the state of Texas. So much so that the TAA (Texas Apartment Association) is introducing a new Bed Bug Addendum to their standard leases. Believe me when I say that this new addition is not tenant friendly. If you sign one of these standard TAA leases with a Bed Bug Addendum, let’s look at what you can expect.
1. Inspection – The resident, before move-in or within 48 hours after moving in has the responsibility of inspecting the premises for bed bugs.
What this means: So, basically, you’re going to be responsible for spotting a tiny bug that is hiding in the carpet or in cracks or crevices found in the walls or wooden floors. Since you can’t see them with the naked eye, if you really want to inspect, you may have to hire an extermination service to come out and look for you. Agreeing to the addendum means you have inspected the premises and that no bed bugs are there making you responsible if some show up in the future.
2. Responsibility for Infestation – The landlord as the right to require a resident to pay for all reasonable costs of cleaning and pest control. The resident is also responsible for any lost rental income and any other relocation expenses that were necessary to move any other tenants that are affected by the infestation.
What this means: Believe it or not, the TAA is going to place the responsibility for getting rid of the bed bugs on the tenant. You signed something initially saying that you agree that you didn’t see any bed bugs when you moved in. Whether or not they were there in the first place, you are now responsible for getting rid of them when they show up. This means tenants will pay for all extermination costs for the apartment. That’s not cheap. On top of this, if the bed bugs are found in any adjacent apartment, the tenant of the unit where the bed bugs were initially found will be responsible for the costs of exterminating in other people’s apartments.
But wait, there’s more!
If the people in the other apartments have to move out for cleaning, the resident of the unit where the bed bugs were initially found is responsible for any costs the other tenants incur for moving their stuff out, and should the Landlord lose rental income because of the bed bug infestation, the resident will also be responsible for that.
3. Default – If any of the costs mentioned above are not paid, the tenant is in default of their rental agreement. The landlord then has the right to terminate the resident’s right to occupancy and may exercise any remedies that the lease allows.
What this means: If you get bed bugs and you can’t afford to pay for the extermination and moving costs and rent of the other tenants affected by the problem, you can be evicted. Even if you don’t have x-ray vision and didn’t see the bed bugs that were hiding in the carpet during your inspection, you are going to be tossed out for not paying. You’ll get an eviction on your record, which will lower the chances of you being able to rent another place.
THINGS YOU CAN DO
So, I’ve told you all of the terrible things that the TAA has planned for tenants that sign their bed bug addendum, but what can you do if you’re a tenant?
If you must sign the addendum so you can rent an apartment, it might be wise to have an exterminator inspect the premises and sign off that there are no bed bugs there before you move into your apartment. I know this is an added expense that you don’t really need when you’re moving to a new place, but considering the alternative, it’s going to be totally worth it if bed bugs show up in your apartment.
Another option is to talk to your state or city representatives. These are the people that make the laws. If they hear from enough people who are troubled by the prospect of having to pay a ton of money for bed bugs, they could be persuaded to pass a law that would override the TAA and give us a much more reasonable solution to the bed bug problem.
Placing the burden on those who can least afford it is, in my book, never the right way to do things.
Until next time,