Bed Bugs: Who’s responsible and how should they be handled?


Bed bugs are parasitic insects ranging in size from a poppy sebed buged to a small apple seed. They typically vary from pale yellow to a rusty-red color and have an oval-shaped body that swells slightly when they feed on the blood of animals and humans. While they can be seen with the naked eye, oftentimes bed bugs hide in hard-to-notice places such as mattresses, box springs, bedding, carpet, and cracks in walls and floors. They don’t jump or fly and can live for several months without eating.


Signs of an infestation can include:

  • itchy welts on your skin
  • blood smears on your bedding from crushed insects
  • tiny dark spots on your sheets or in mattress corners from their fecal droppings
  • dried remains of shed bed bug skins

Since fleas and mosquitoes can also leave bites that look like bed bugs, it’s important to find proof if you suspect an infestation. Grab an LED flashlight and a 10X magnifying glass to thoroughly search the property. Pay close attention to mattress corners, small cracks in furniture, floors, or walls, and in carpeting, make sure to look for the signs listed above.

Once you confirm that you do indeed have bed bugs at your property, consider contacting a pest management professional with experience treating bed bugs.

Many landlords don’t consider bed bugs as their responsibility since they are not known to spread disease and aren’t considered a public health hazard. So oftentimes tenants who complain of this nuisance are told it’s their problem to deal with. However, if that tenant moves out, you can’t expect an unsuspecting new tenant to move into a property with a bed bug infestation. So at some point, exterminating them might fall on your shoulders regardless.

If you’re unsure whose responsibility it is to deal with the problem, and it’s not clearly outlined in the lease, then check with your local housing or health department to see what they require and to make sure you’re not violating local health and safety ordinances.

Photo credit: louento.pix / / CC BY-ND