Bed bugs are some of the most unpleasant and persistent insects of all time. They’re also, unfortunately, common, particularly in residential properties. Bedbugs can be identified as small, brownish insects that, while not always the easiest to spot, can still be felt as they feed off of human blood. While bedbugs are annoying, they tend not to carry many diseases. However, they are certainly still pests and under Florida law, the landlord is responsible for taking reasonable measure to exterminate pests, bedbugs included.
What Florida law has to say
According to Florida law, landlords are responsible for making “reasonable provisions” for the extermination of pests. In more severe situations where a resident needs to vacate their premises, you may not be held responsible for damages incurred, but you will be required to abate the rent for the period in which the resident needs to be absence. The vacancy cannot last for more than four days, and you must give your residents one week’s written notice about the upcoming extermination.
More about bedbugs
While these stipulations are, perhaps, somewhat lenient, you may be asking yourself what it is about bedbugs that makes the situation so severe. Primarily, it’s a quality of life issue for your tenants — no one wants parasites in their home, and no one wants to be eaten alive as they sleep. Bedbugs generally bite people while they are sleeping, and they latch on and feed for up to ten minutes before crawling away. At the time of the bite, a person may not even notice. But afterward, the bite can turn into a red, painful welt that often itches, and often comes with a whole slew of similar bites on nearly any part of the skin that is exposed.
Signs of an infestation
Other than the skin bites, there are other (gross) ways you can tell if you are a victim of a bedbug infestation. There can be rusty red stains from blood or fecal matter on your mattresses, walls, and other areas. They also give off an odor (musty and sweet) that can indicate their presence. It’s not a sign of dirtiness — bedbugs feed on blood, not dirt.
Controlling the Infestation
A bedbug infestation can be difficult to control. They can lay hundreds of eggs, travel easily, and are known to hibernate. With the individual bugs being so difficult to spot, you may not be aware of a problem until it is already a job for the professionals. After diagnosing whether or not you have bedbugs, pest control companies like Heron Lawn & Pest Control will have to move aggressively to exterminate them, likely leading to the temporary displacement of the tenants.
As a landlord or property manager, you need to know that the only true solution is to act decisively. These pests can spread very quickly, and if they are not completely eliminated, they will only continue to come back. Tenants who continually run into pest issues while leasing from you, however, will not.