When you start to unpack and you find that your new apartment is infested with bedbugs, many questions seem to flood your mind, and the major one would be, “what are my rights?” As a tenant, you have some rights depending on your location. Every state except Arkansas expects that landlords provide their tenants with adequate safety and a conducive home.
This is part of lawyers’ requirements from landlords, and it is referred to as the warranty of habitability. This warranty of habitability includes providing an environment free of rodents, insects, and other pests that might threaten the peaceful stay of a tenant.
Bedbugs are considered one of the major problems of habitation. Therefore, some states have laws that require landlords to take a drastic step to make sure that they provide a bedbug-free house for tenants.
Report Bed Bugs To Your Landlord
This is the first step to be taken. Make sure your landlord is aware of things in your new apartment. Then wait for his response on coming to deal with the issues. However, if your landlord seems not to care about your plight, there are lots of actions that you can take to express your grievances. Among them are:
- Withholding the rent until he takes steps.
- Reporting your landlord to the local health office in your area
- Paying for extermination from your rent
- Deducting from your rent
- Moving out without any future liability for rent
Note: Before you conclude on any of the above-listed options, consult any local attorney to know the available solutions to tenants in your location. This is to avoid putting yourself in a more challenging situation. Besides, self-help, as listed above, is not allowed in all places.
How Can I Sue My Landlord?
You can sue your landlord for bedbugs infestation in your small claims court. Although, these courts have different rules that guide their operations.
One of the advantages of using a small claims court is that it is very affordable to file a lawsuit. Also, you can file a lawsuit without the help of a lawyer( in some states, there is a prohibition of lawyers in small claims court. In addition to that, the process of determining your case is very fast– a judge decides it within a month or two.
What You Can Sue For
In a situation whereby he is not responding to your complaints, you can sue him for:
- Damaged or lost property ( beddings destroyed by bedbugs)
- Cost of relocating to another apartment as well requesting additional rent you will have to pay for your new apartment- a comparable fund
- The cost of the items you bought for eradicating bedbugs
- Efforts made to starve bed bugs. So long as they have a host to feed on, they’ll keep coming back. How long bed bugs can live without food is up to the environment they’re living in.
- Compensation for any personal injury, which includes trauma suffered from the bedbugs
- A compensation for attorney fees as well as court costs in case you got the services of a lawyer to sue the landlord
- Compensation for personal injuries caused by the bed bugs. It can also include your attorney fees and court costs.
Collecting A Case
Send a written demand letter to your landlord. You have a right to that effect because it (the letter is a requirement in some states as a condition for filing a small claims lawsuit) helps to fortify your legal rights and legally state the rights you have on-demand what you want from your landlord.
Ensure that you take enough time to prepare all the pieces of evidence you have gotten. This might include snapping pictures of the bedbugs in your apartment, your several letters of complaints to your landlord‘s manager before taking the legal steps.
Also, the reports of your complaints. In some cases, you need to prepare the receipts from any exterminators you got. Apart from that, you need to get a statement as a piece of evidence from your co-tenants in the house.
Whether you are interested in using a small claims court or you want to sue your landlord in another court, you might need to consult a local landlord-tenant attorney. Many attorneys will gladly represent you even if you do not hire them for services.
Also, many attorneys are always ready to advise clients on the best approach to prepare for a small claims court case.
Furthermore, if your rental agreement or lease has an attorney’s fee clause on it, you can refer to that clause that your landlord has breached the legal agreement by failing to address the challenges of bedbugs in your rental.
Based on this, you might be reimbursed for the attorneys’ fee by your landlord on the court order.