Should I leave my home or apartment if I have Bed Bugs? Bed Bug Law

Bed Bug Law

Should I leave my home or apartment if I have Bed Bugs?

Whether or not to leave your home due to a Bed Bug Infestation is a common question that arises amongst clients. Unfortunately, there is no one answer that is the right fit for every situation. In most, but not all situations a victim of a Bed Bug Infestation is better off leaving their home or apartment until the problem is resolved. On the contrary, here are a couple of items to consider before making the decision to evacuate your residence.

Extermination of Bed Bugs

Bed Bug exterminators’ techniques may not always be effective in an empty home as many of the bugs are likely to not come out of hiding without a human present for eating. If the bed bugs are not out searching for food, then more times than not they will not interact with the chemical treatments provided by the extermination company. The majority of pest control providers use chemical treatments as opposed to heat treatments because it is much less expensive alternative. It is well known in the Bed Bug community that heat treatments are much more successful at eliminating Bed Bugs than chemical treatments. Make sure to check with your pest control provider and review all available courses of actions for Bed Bug eradication and treatment.

Bed Bugs Survival in a Home or Apartment

Bed bugs can survive for 8 to 16 months without eating. Bed Bugs are like vampires, they feed on the blood of humans and other mammals like dogs, cats, rodents and etc. Since Bed bugs can go a significant amount of time without eating it is strongly recommend that if you decide to vacate your home that you do so for an extended period of time. This will ensure that all of the bugs will die due to the lack of food source and the treatments provided by the exterminator.

In apartment complexes, hotels, motels, college dormitories and other multi-occupancy locations, residences infested by Bed Bugs that are vacated may encourage the spreading of bed bugs to other nearby units in search of a meal. If a Bed Bug Infestation occurs in one unit, it is greatly recommended that frequent inspections of the neighboring units, on all sides, be conducted until the Bed Bug problem has been abolished and the evacuated unit has been determined to be safe for human occupancy. The longer the infected unit remains vacate and untreated the more likely it is that the Bed Bugs will spread in search of food. The neighboring units, should be treated for Bed Bugs in order to prevent the infestation from spreading thought-out the building.

Bed Bugs are nasty unpredictable creatures, if your property has been invaded by Bed Bugs it is ultimately your decision as to whether or not to vacate your residence, but please consider the information provided and consult with a professional before making a decision.

Contact the Bed Bug Law Team

If your home, apartment, dormitory, hotel room, motel room or other type of residence has been infested by Bed Bugs, please contact one of our Bed Bug Attorneys for a free consultation. Fill out our “Do I Have a Case?” form or call us at 855-533-5552. We do not charge any fees whatsoever unless we win your case!

27 thoughts on “Should I leave my home or apartment if I have Bed Bugs?”

I had my home treated by an exterminator and they are still here and they won’t retreat it again without more money. I am broke; what do I do?

You should start by reviewing the contract you entered into with the pest control provider. Some agreements provide a guarantee for the services renders. If your contract has such a guarantee then you should call the manager or owner of the pest control company and demand they complete treatment at your home. If the agreement does not provide a service guarantee then try to enter into a payment plan with a pest control provider.

I am 7 months pregnant, with a 3 year old daughter. We moved in 2 weeks ago and we are biten all over us, we do not have the means to get out the apartment to stay anywhere but here. I am really in need of help. I told my landlord of this problem a week ago and said I had to wait ’till Monday for any pest control to come to my home. I am so upset and itchy and my daughter also. Please help, thank you.

We recommend that you and your daughter remove yourself from the infested apartment as soon as possible. Maintain a detailed journal of all events surrounding the situation; including dates as well as names of any individual you spoke with about the infestation. For additional information on what to do after moving into an infested apartment, please view the following video I posted on our website: Contact our office today for a free consultation with one of our bed bug attorneys.

Hi, my house got treated for bed bugs. But I still see a little bit of bed bugs. What do I do?

If you are renting your home, contact the property owner or property manager immediately and inform them of your findings. If you own your home, contact the pest control company, inform them you are still finding bed bugs and request they send someone back to your home for further treatment. It is dangerous for your health and wellbeing to stay in an infested home so make sure to get it treated as soon as possible. You should consider moving out until the bugs are gone.

Before moving, be cautious of what items you bring with you to your new home. Some items can be professionally treated but certain items may need to be discarded. Before discarding of any items, take photographs of the property and maintain an itemized list of the age of each item and each item’s approximate value. Most importantly, listen to the instructions of your pest professional.

Take photographs of your injuries and the bed bugs. Lastly, contact our office and speak with one of our bed bug attorneys to determine if we can assist you with a potential claim.

I moved into my apartment may of 2014 i discovered my daughter was getting bit by bed bugs in September 2014 i went right to the landlor. ..he informed me that the 1st floor tenant notified him a couple months prior that she had them and knew her son brought them in the apartment but that she was going to bomb and treat them herself. ..he never notified the other tenants. ..i complained and told him i researched what needed to be done and he finally hired an exterminator but by then almost all the new furniture i purchased when i moved in had to be disposed of per order of the exterminator. ..they have had to come back to treat my apartment at least 6 or 7 times since Septembe. is now may and the prior landlord has sold the building never informing the new landlord of the problem…the last time my apartment was treated was February and now its may and the bugs are back…i notified the new landlord and he said hell call an exterminator but my apartment is basically empty and now im being told i should dispose of mine and my daughter’s beds…we have been living with no furniture other than the beds which were also brand new when i moved in…. what are my rights as far as withholding rent even though its a new property owner and can i get money for all the furniture that i had just purchased and had to throw out….i am also 5 months pregnant and am strssed to the max…i have been dealing with this now for 9 months living in a basically empty apartment because i cant afford to pay rent and buy new stuff all over again

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I have been having attacks in my bedroom,I have been spraying was asking how long will it take for them to die fully

Before we can give you any legal advice we need to know what state this occurred in. Each state has different laws in reference to landlord tenant disputes and general negligence. Take some time and prepare a detailed time line of all the events that have occurred at your apartment. Start with the date you moved in and end with the present day. Include conversations and emails you had with you landlord or any of his/her representatives and even the exterminators. The more detail you provide the easier it will make it for us. Once you have completed the timeline call us for a free consultation.

I just moved in to an apartment in Canada 2 weeks ago and I have bed bugs. I notified my building manager right away and he had the regional manager come in an do an emergency spray until they can have a professional come in next week to do an inspection and plan for treatment. I refused to stay there after I saw the first bug so have since left the residence.
My question is- I don’t want to live there anymore and I don’t know what to do about it.

Unfortunately, we do not represent clients in Canada. We do not have an attorney in our office that is authorized to practice law in Canada. I strongly encourage you to contact an attorney in your city to assist you.

I just moved out of an apartment that had bed bugs. I told the property owner we got them from the building and he said it was the tenants responsibility. Could he come after me in a legal way to make me pay for exterminator or something like that?

My son rented a studio apartment in a big complex close to his college campus. Three weeks later he sent me a text/photo at 4 in the morning wanting to know what was in his bed. He had been itching since the first night he moved in but he just thought it was the different brand of bath soap that I purchased for him. Upon searching the Internet we determined that there were bed bugs in the Murphy bed that was provided by the apartment complex. He contact the rental office the next day and was told that an exterminator would be out to do a treatment after they accused him of bringing the bedbugs. A few days later they told him that it would be at least 2 weeks before an exterminator could come out and even look at the situation so they offered to let him out of his contract with no compensation. He threw away everything in his apartment except his clothes which all had to be laundered and stored in his car until he could move. Is there anything that we can do to recoup the money for all his possessions and the cost of moving plus my son is having nightmares about bedbugs now.

We need to review your son’s lease agreement. Please call us for a consultation. In the meantime scan a copy of your son’s lease and have him write down a detailed time line of all the events that have occurred since he moved into the apartment.

The answer is it depends on the situation. Did you bring the bed bugs into your apartment? Did a guest bring the bed bugs into your apartment? Were the bed bugs there before you moved in? Did the bed bugs come from a neighbor? What does your lease say about bed bugs? Based on the information you have provided it is difficult for me to give you an answer. Feel free to give us a call to discuss this further, but before doing so please scan a copy of your lease so that is readily available to email to us for review.

I stayed In myrtle beach in August. 4 days after returning I had been severely bitten 50-75 bites! No one could tell me for certain what it was since I didn’t see anything. So I fogged my house multiple times but kept getting bit. Finally it took a
Bed bug finding dog to sniff out their scent and give me some answers, after 4 doctors and 2 exterminators. Sure enough 6 months later I’ve been getting bit by bed bugs and now have a $3000-$3500 bill. I know where I got them so what can I do about it legally?

I live in Florida and just found out a hotel we stayed at had bed bugs. I’m in the process of fighting them to try and recover the costs of the items I need to now purchase to try and rectify this situation but my concern is I live in aNew apartment. If this becomes an issue what will happen to my lease? Will the complex force me to pay for an exterminater? If so does it have to be one of their choosing or van I choose (I want the best treatment not the ones they’ve done for bugs before). Also will I be responsible if another tenant catches them?

Good afternoon. I suggest contacting our office so we can fully discuss the circumstances of your particular issue. I believe you may have a case against the hotel but we would need more information. Please call us at your earliest convenience. See our website for information about how to preserve evidence of an infestation.

Apartment complex cases are unique in that you have a lease agreement with either the building or an individual owner. Check your lease and see who is responsible for pest treatment.

Apartment and condo cases are very common and very tough. What state did this occur in?

Travel Tips: What to Do If Your Hotel Has Bed Bugs

Not the nicest topic, but I think it’s good for anybody who’s been a victim of bed bugs to share their experience and hopefully help others with tips and suggestions on how you should handle the situation, as well as what to do when checking into hotels.

Note: I don’t work for pest control so this isn’t official advice. This post is based on my own personal experience.
▶︎ You may also like: How to Avoid Mosquito Born Diseases While Travelling

What happened to me

So my bed bug experience happened in the summer of 2016. I checked into a mediocre hotel and after the first night I woke up with bites on my arm and foot. I’d never had a bed bug experience before so I wasn’t really sure it was them. I then checked the room as thoroughly as possible (based on online advice) and found no sign of them. I was tired so dismissed the idea and put it down to bites from something else.

Later that day after speaking to my other half on the phone and sending her pictures, she told me that it was definitely bed bugs. This conversation was quite late and on the evening of my second night. I then searched the room again with no luck of spotting them. I decided to sleep with the light on (although this apparently does nothing to keep the bed bugs away).

As you can expect I was quite paranoid and didn’t sleep very well that night. I then woke up at 4.30-5am and saw a Bed Bug next to me. It was extremely small and this one wasn’t really moving.

I then trapped it in a glass and took some photographs as evidence. I also spotted what looked like a baby one on the bedside table which seemed to be running around in circles. I also trapped this one and took photographs.

Closeup to a Bed Bugs on sheets

Steps to take on check-in

Whenever you check in somewhere, especially if it’s a lower class or old run down type hotel, you should always search the room for Bed Bugs. To be honest I didn’t see any when I checked into this particular hotel but discovered them the next day.

When doing your check use a torch (the one on your smartphone may work) and start looking for rusty dark marks. The marks may be anywhere such as on the sheets, around the bedsprings, on the walls etc. These marks may be from their faeces or shells. Have a look on Google Images to see what these look like in the worst infestations (I warn you it’s not pretty). When looking check:

  • Around the bedsprings, headboard and joints of the bed.
  • Look near any cracks on the wall or any other furniture.
  • Check around the luggage stand.
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To be honest, during my experience I didn’t find anything on checking in. Maybe it was a small infestation so in other scenarios there may be more signs. It’s definitely a good idea to check though, because if you didn’t check and it happened to you, then you’d be kicking yourself.

Signs of bed bugs

Bed Bugs are tiny and can hide almost anywhere, such as cracks in the wall, behind headboards etc, so you may not see the actual bug. If you suspect you’ve been bitten by bed bugs then these may be some of the signs:

  • Bites on your body – For me, I had lots of bites in various places across my body and in clusters. I had them on my arm and feet (picture below) and they were incredibly itchy.
  • Blood on the sheets – Due to the bites there was blood on the sheets.
  • Signs of crushed bugs – You may potentially find signs of their shells, or even the bugs where you’ve crushed them in your sleep.

Bites on an arm from Bed Bugs

What you should do if your room has bed bugs

During my experience and after the first night and signs of bites, I then checked the room about three times to try and find them without any luck. It’s only on the second morning that I found them when I woke up in the morning.

Here are some of the things you should do if your hotel room has bed bugs (whether you find an actual Bed Bug or not).

  • Take pictures of the bites on your body.
  • Take pictures of any blood on the sheets.
  • If you can see any bugs on the bed try and trap them. I used a plastic cup to do this.
  • Take pictures if you see them, including how you trapped them. You may also find crushed insects or stains from their waste.
  • If possible try and get the hotel staff to come and have a look to acknowledge the evidence.
  • Demand your money back – For me, the hotel didn’t argue when I did this. If they do argue then threaten with exposure.
  • Ask to change rooms, or try and change hotels if you prefer.
  • Report to the booking agency – I went through and to be honest they didn’t really say much and I guess they just act as a sale agent, but I still think it’s worth mentioning for their records.
  • Leave a review – I think it also depends on how the hotel handles the situation as previous guests could have carried the bed bugs along with them, and the hotel could be perfectly clean beforehand. Leaving a negative review could be extremely damaging to a hotels business so keep this in mind.
  • Put your clothes in sealed plastic bags.

What you should do on returning home

The scary thing about bed bugs is that they can travel home with you. If you are like me then you’ll be paranoid about this. On my return home, this is what I did…

  • I left the suitcase out of my house and took the bags straight from the luggage into the washing machine.
  • I then washed my clothes, followed by tumble drying at a high heat.
  • I’d left my shoes outside and went straight to the shower. I actually did this wearing minimal clothes.
  • After showering and putting on fresh clothes, I then hovered my luggage and shoes as thoroughly as possible and emptied the hoover straight into the outside bin after I’d finished.
  • Below is a bed bug spray that you may want to try for extra reassurance. I haven’t used this but it gets 4 stars based on over 2000 reviews on the UK site, and over 3000 reviews on the US site.

Other suggestions:

  • Consider contacting a pest control service.
  • Quarantine your luggage until you are confident you haven’t carried one of the critters back with you.

Despite this, there is always a chance they could still get into your house.

Bed bugs in the Workplace

It is becoming fairly commonplace to find bed bugs in public and private work places. Why? Bed bugs are small and they like to hide. Anyone could carry them into your building on their clothing, personal belongings and shoes. However there is no need to panic if you find them in your work place. Properly handled, the bed bugs can be eliminated with a minimum of disruption to your operations. Here is a strategy that you may want to consider adopting:

Know Some Basic Facts about Bed Bugs

  • Bed bugs don’t fly (they don’t have wings!)
  • Bed bugs cannot jump.
  • Bed bugs crawl fast.
  • Bed bugs are nocturnal insects, except in buildings where the carbon dioxide levels are at their highest during the day.
  • Bed bugs like to hide.
  • Bed bugs feed on human and animal blood.
  • Mature bed bugs can survive for at least a year without a blood meal.
  • Bed bugs are attracted to us by the heat and carbon dioxide that we produce.
  • Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease.

Identify Them

  • Even bed bug eggs and juveniles are visible. (A flashlight and magnifying glass make it easier to see them.)
  • Bed bugs are reddish brown and shaped like a
  • To see photographs of bed bugs and bed bug bites, visit
  • Bed bugs bites cause itchy welts in about 70% of the people who’ve been bitten. The welts typically occur in groups on exposed skin, but they look like other insect and spider bites. They can cause scars.

Survey the Premises

  • Train your staff to know what bed bugs look like and how to identify them.
  • Carefully inspect the area where the suspected bed bug was found as soon as you can.
  • Because bed bugs like to hide, it is important to know where to look for them: check the folds and seams in upholstery, lockers, baseboards, cubicle walls, furniture joints and corners, electrical outlets, switches, piles of papers and other nooks and crannies.

Respond To Your Findings: If you find more bed bugs…

  • Don’t kill them or crush them! It is impossible to make a positive identification from smashed bug parts!
  • Put the live bug(s) in a pill bottle or a tightly sealed plastic bag so that your pest management professional (PMP) can make a positive identification.
  • Try to isolate the area where the bug(s) were found.

Act Quickly

  • Contact your PMP immediately.
  • Once onsite, he should verify that you have bed bugs, and he should provide you with a treatment plan that explains the chemicals he will use, how he will apply them, if traps will be set, and when follow up inspections and treatments will be scheduled.
  • Treatment should not occur while people are in the area.
  • If you need help finding a PMP who has experience treating bed bugs, please refer to:

Protect Yourself And Your Employees

  • Staff and clients should not be in the area where the bug(s) were found, if possible.
  • Coats, purses and other personal belongings should be placed in a tightly sealed plastic bag, or a plastic container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Keeping a pair of shoes for use in the work place until the bed bugs are gone helps to prevent infestations in employees’ homes and cars
  • Reduce clutter if at all possible.
  • Advise staff to check their shoes and other clothing when they at the end of the day.
  • In high risk work places, consider installing a dryer on the premises for the employees to use.

Communicate with Your Staff and Customers

  • There are many things that you can do to reassure the people in your office.
  • Recognize that silence is your worst enemy because it leads to speculation, and speculation leads to distrust and panic.
  • Assure everyone that the bed bugs will be killed by a licensed pest management professional.
  • Define the area of the office that will be treated. Most people will assume that the entire building will be treated, but that is highly unlikely.
  • Explain to your staff that the chemicals that will be used are approved by USEPA and that they are considered safe when they are applied according to the label.
  • Avoid using the terms “infestation” or “infested.” A few bed bugs in one or two locations in your office is not an infestation, it is an occurrence.
  • Have copies of the material safety data sheets for the chemicals that will be used to kill the bed bugs available for you staff
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Debunk the Misconceptions

  • When one or two bed bugs, are found, most people assume that there are many more in the building, which isn’t always the case.
    • Assure employees that bed bugs do not transmit disease.
    • Bed bugs are a pest, but they shouldn’t be a cause for panic. There is no need to suspend your operations, especially if the bed bugs were only found in a few isolated places.

What about an employee who has bed bugs at home?

  • Develop a plan for dealing with an employee who is living in a bed bug infested home.
  • Dealing with an employee who has bed bugs requires sensitivity. People feel ashamed that they have the bugs, and they are reluctant to talk about their problem with anyone.
  • Blaming or accusing the employee won’t solve the problem. Getting bed bugs is no one’s fault
  • Deciding whether to exclude the employee from the workplace is your decision. There are no health or OSHA guidelines that you can turn to for guidance.

Strategies to try

  • Discreetly speak with your employee, and…
  • Ask them to bring a change of clothing with them that had been dried and sealed in a plastic bag just before leaving home. Provide a place for them to change. A space without carpeting or upholstered furniture is preferred.
  • Have them place the clothing, coat, and shoes that they wore to work in a tightly sealed plastic bag or plastic container.
  • Encourage the employee to keep a pair of shoes in the workplace that they only wear at work.
  • The employee should be encouraged to bring as little as possible with them from home
  • If the person lives in rental housing, and the landlord refuses to treat their unit or building, refer them to this fact sheet on our website: Bed Bugs: Top Questions.


Bed bugs are a manageable problem! With a little education and a surveillance program, you can keep them from becoming a major disruption in your workplace.

What if Another Tenant in My Building Has Bed Bugs?

Depending on factors like the city where you live and type of building you live in, your landlord may be legally required to keep your apartment free of bed bugs and other insect infestations. But what happens if the infestation isn’t in your apartment? If your neighbor has bed bugs, is your landlord responsible? Is the affected tenant required to take any action? Most importantly, is there anything you can do before the bugs spread to your unit? Our apartment bed bug infestation attorneys explain some of the legal considerations tenants of multi-unit buildings should be aware of.

How to Tell if Another Unit in Your Building is Infested

Bed bugs are notorious for their ability to spread rapidly. Thanks to the combination of short breeding cycles, large broods of eggs, and ever-increasing resistance against some of the most common types of insecticides and pest control products, it takes only a few months (and sometimes only a few weeks) for small populations to explode into full-blown infestations. While bed bugs are cause for concern in any living environment, these factors make them a particularly serious problem in crowded quarters — for example, urban apartment buildings.

But how will you know if your neighbor has bed bugs in the first place? After all, you certainly can’t confirm your suspicions by sneaking into his or her unit. However, bed bugs in high concentrations are known to emit a peculiar odor typically described as being sweet, musty, or similar to coriander, which you may be able to detect in the building’s hallways. The sudden appearance of bed bugs on your laundry, in your bed, or on your indoor pet is another clear indication that a population already exists somewhere inside the building.

Keep in mind that bed bugs are speedy travelers capable of covering distances of up to three feet per minute, so if they’ve infested your neighbor’s apartment, it’s only a matter of time before they spread to your unit as well. Walls, ceilings, light switches and pipes are all pathways that bed bugs use to travel to seek out human blood.

But what, if anything, can you get the building’s landlord to do about it? Do renters have any legal recourse when it comes to apartment units they don’t actually pay for? Or are you simply out of luck until the affected tenant him- or herself complains?

How Property Code Affects Tenant-Landlord Bed Bug Liability

The answer depends partially on the building code in the community where you live. However, while each town and city is governed in part by its own municipal code, these local codes are sometimes superseded by the IPMC, or International Property Maintenance Code. The IPMC belongs to a family of national codes, such as the International Plumbing Code and the International Private Sewage Disposal Code, which are administered by the International Code Council (ICC). These codes are collectively referred to as “I-Codes.”

As we discussed in our previous blog post about landlord responsibility for bed bugs, some of the key IPMC factors which impact pest control liability are the total number of units in the building, and the type of dwelling it is. For example, one portion of the code specifies that renters in multi-unit buildings are responsible for bed bug extermination in cases where only the renter’s unit has bed bugs.

So what does this mean for you as a tenant? In some jurisdictions, any infestation in a rental unit is the property owner and/or operator’s responsibility. In other jurisdictions, as long as your neighbor’s unit is the only one being affected, he or she assumes financial responsibility for addressing the infestation. However, if the infestation spreads to other units in the building — yours, for example — then responsibility for extermination measures can potentially shift to the landlord. Of course, each situation is different, and there are other factors that can become important when determining responsibility for treating an infestation.

If your landlord is considered responsible for handling extermination, he or she should always hire a licensed pest control company. In most jurisdictions, only licensed professional exterminators can safely (and legally) apply pesticides and other pest control treatments, including heat treatment. Unfortunately, landlords often try to cut corners by relying on cheap and ineffective DIY treatments — typically foggers or consumer-grade bug spray. Some landlords even attempt to perform heat treatment themselves, all to the extreme detriment of their tenants. If you sustain bite-related injuries because your landlord refuses to pay for professional extermination measures, you may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a personal injury claim.

In addition to the property code requirements supplied by the IPMC, many states have adopted their own bed bug laws which can also affect landlords and/or tenants.

Arkansas, for example, prohibits tenants from “knowingly mov[ing] materials into a dwelling unit that are infested with bedbugs.” This means your neighbor cannot intentionally bring his or her infested mattress, clothing, etc. into the building.

To provide another example, New Hampshire’s laws provide the following: “No tenant shall willfully refuse the landlord access to the premises to… evaluate whether bedbugs are present after the landlord has received notice that bed bugs are present in a dwelling unit adjacent to the premises or a dwelling unit that is directly above or below the premises.” In other words, your neighbor cannot prevent the landlord from conducting an inspection, provided appropriate notice has been given.

If you’re concerned that your landlord or other tenants in your building are violating state laws or municipal health code, the bed bug litigation attorneys of Whitney, LLP may be able to help. Recovery can include fees you have wrongfully paid, and attorneys’ fees. To start learning some of your options in a free and private legal consultation, call our law offices today at (410) 583-8000.

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