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New California Legislation Tackles Bed Bug Problems in Rental Units

Written by David Roberson, Esq. on . Posted in For Tenants, Landlords, Non-Owner Occupied Properties, Property Management


July 1, 2017 Implementation

Bedbug_california-law-bookThe California legislature has determined that bed bugs are a significant habitability issue in rental properties, so much so, they have drafted and passed Assembly Bill 551 which imposes new disclosure requirements on landlords, property managers, and owner of rental properties.  Beginning July 1, 2017 the new law modifies California Civil Code Sec. 1941.1 and requires landlords, property managers, and owners to provide a prospective tenant (and all other tenants by January 1, 2018), a written notice which provide information about bed bugs, including identification, biology, typical behavior.  Importantly, the notification requires tenants to cooperate with landlords, property managers, and owners with prevention and treatment procedures, including the importance of prompt writing reporting by the tenant regarding suspected infestations.

bedbug_colorNew Landlord Imposed Disclosures

Specifically, the new law prevents a landlord, property manager, or owner from showing, renting, or leasing a vacant rental unit that is known to have an infestation.  Additionally, if a unit has been inspected by a pest control operator the tenant is required to be given a copy of the pest control report within two (2) business days.  This extends and modifies existing law requiring landlords, property managers, and owners to provide tenants with pest control reports for units currently being serviced under contract.

No Extra Duty Imposed on Landlords

The new statute does not impose a new duty on landlords, property managers, or owners to inspect rental units for possible infestation if there is no notice of suspected or actual bed bug infestation.  However, the landlord or their agent, is charged with notice if upon a visual inspection it is evident that there are bed bugs.  Moreover, if a complaint is made by a tenant or the landlord receives notice from a governmental agency the landlord is imposed actual notice of the condition.

bed_bug_life_cycleLandlords Can Not Retaliate

As with any other equitable situation a landlord may not retaliate or evict a tenant complaining about bed bugs as long as the tenant is not themselves in default.  Landlords who retaliate against tenants for reporting bed bugs are subject to the same remedies tenants have otherwise available.

BedBugsPenalties for Landlords

In addition to any and all equitable and legal remedies available to tenants against overbearing landlords retaliating against tenants, landlords may also be liable for actual damages sustained by the tenant, and potential punitive damages, plus reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Advice for Landlords – Do the Right Thing

As with all landlord-tenant issues it is wise to follow the law and to do the right thing by the tenant when habitability is the issue and the quiet use and enjoyment of the tenancy is on the line.



David Roberson, Esq.

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David Roberson, Esq.

David is a licensed real estate attorney, a licensed real estate broker, and has been involved in the real estate business since he graduated from college in 1986. David has personally been involved in hundreds of real estate transactions, has personally inspected over 2,500 residential properties, 12 million square feet of new commercial construction, and is an expert in 12 separate building code categories. David and his wife Shelly have owned a personal portfolio of investment properties in several states including the bay area since 1998. David currently is the broker/owner of Silicon Valley Property Management Group (SVPMG) which manages 150+ client properties on the San Francisco Peninsula. Trust, transparency, and performance guarantees are the foundation of SVPMG. David challenges anyone to find a PM company that offers services similar to the extensive education, customer service, and performance guarantees provided by SVPMG. David also provides consulting for his clients on property development feasibility, construction, and complex real estate transactions. David has authored a published law review article, two real estate books, and over 120 real estate blog articles.

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