Tenant Sued for Bed Bug Infestation

Tenant Sued for Bed Bug Infestation

The rise in bed bug lawsuits has been a widely discussed topic for Property Manager and Landlords in the past 10 years.  As the number of court cases rise, the more of a concern a possible legal claim becomes.  In the past, the majority of cases we have seen in court involve a guest or tenant suing a negligent business owner or property manager for failing to solve a bed bug related issue.  But now, we have seen one of the first cases of a Landlord suing a tenant for failing to comply with extermination efforts for an extreme bed bug issue.  Bed bugs cause damage to furniture, walls, carpeting and other areas in an infested home, so it makes sense that a proactive landlord would want to solve any bed bug sighting as soon as possible to avoid further damage.  But when a tenant refuses service and doesn’t take any action to keep the bed bugs away, we can see cases like this one…

Jan 20, 2016 marks the day that the media started posting the story of a New York man being sued by his landlord for refusing to allow an exterminator to treat his Upper West Side Apartment.  The man seemingly didn’t mind the bugs and refused to comply with any guidelines or rules regarding the proper technique for extermination or discarding infested belongings.

According to an article posted on gothamist.com, residents of the apartment complex had been complaining about bed  bugs, which resulting in a letter from the concerned landlord stating that an exterminator would be treating and inspecting the structure.  The landlord also gave instructions on how tenants should contact him if bed bugs were sighted in their unit.  The apartments were swept by a bed bug detection dog and it was found that multiple apartments were infested, including one occupied by a man named James Behan (who didn’t mention the problem to anyone.)

New York County Supreme Court

New York County Supreme Court

In one report, the exterminator the searched the building was recorded saying that the infestation found inside Behan’s apartment was the worse he had ever encountered. The bed bugs were found in the baseboards, electrical outlets, furniture, on/in the bed, and even in the ceiling.  One of the photos that was taken inside the unit can be seen on the left. 

While this may seem like it’s “bad enough”, the story gets worse as the landlord and bed bug exterminator interview Behan about the bed bug problem.  Behan was reported saying he was, “aware that he had bed bugs”, and that he “visited bed bug infested locations regularly”, it was also noted that he did not take the proper measures to ensure that the bugs weren’t coming home with him.  While Behan did allow for the exterminator to treat the unit once, a further inspection found that Behan’s car was also infested and he refused to allow it to be treated.  Since the car would remain untreated it would be nearly impossible to rid the apartment of the bugs since they would have an easy ride from the comforts of his car to the apartment on a daily basis. He also refused any other attempts to eliminate the bugs inside his unit.

The company that owns the building is seeking $300,000 in damages for the physical damages in the unit as well as the threat of lost business due to the other tenants in the building threatening to move out due to the problem.

Don’t let this story become your future.  If you rent an apartment, check with your landlord or property super to review their bed bug policies and procedures.  Make sure that you familiarize yourself with some safety procedure to avoid a bed bug contamination.  You can also check out these guides for more info about how to find bed bugs and what to do if you have them.




One of the most important steps in bed bug elimination is detecting the problem and acting quickly.  Professionals like AZEX Pest Solutions can get rid of any bed bug problem, however, catching the problem in the early stages will help speed up the process and get you back to living your life quickly.  Call AZEX today if you have a bed bug infestation in your apartment, home, or business.  We can get rid of the bugs using our extremely effective and safe AZEX Bed Bug Heat process.  Find out more at https://azexpest.com/heat-treatment/.

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