Apartment Ordered to Pay Resident $800,000 Over Bed Bug Infestation

bed bugs

 

The $800,000 jury award for a bed bug infestation to renter Faika Shaaban in Annapolis, Md. could have the multifamily and rental housing industries on edge.

The jury in case took just 15 minutes to reach a decision on the lawsuit, and the award was twice what Shaaban had sought, according to the Capital Gazette. The payout reportedly was the highest that lawyers had seen in such cases. (In 2002, a jury awarded $382,000 to a brother and sister who said they were attacked by bed bugs at a Chicago motel.)

Is this lawsuit settlement a harbinger of things to come? Possibly, but at the very least the case does highlight a growth in bed bug lawsuits nationwide.

“You are going to see a rapid growth of bed bug claims over the next decade,” lawyer Tom Campbell of Birmingham, Ala., who advises other lawyers, was quoted as saying in an article by the Baltimore Sun covering the case. “There are enough lawyers who are getting trained so that people will be able to find lawyers, so that people will find a way to get relief.”

And where do property management companies and rental housing owners find relief?

The Burden of Proof: Who’s Responsible for Bed Bugs?

With bed bugs on the rise, property managers are questioning the legal ramifications of their new residents. Can they be held liable if a resident files suit over the presence of bed bugs?

Since there isn’t an easy answer to this complex problem, I’m going to quote straight from the excellent publication from the National Apartment Association called Evicting Unwanted Residents: Responsibility, Prevention and Treatment of Bed Bugs in the Multifamily Industry:

“It is important to understand that the liability issues surrounding bed bug infestations are governed by state and sometimes local law. Responsibilities of property management companies may vary from state-to-state and range from zero liability to significant exposure. Deciding factors for assigning liability include the responsibilities of the owner and resident as defined by the language in lease documents, policies indicated to the prospective resident and the agreement between the management company and the owner.

In most jurisdictions, owners and management companies should take steps to guard against a negligence or gross negligence tort claim. An owner or management company is negligent if it fails to act reasonably in light of foreseeable risks that result in damages to the resident. The damage to the resident must be proximately caused by the negligence of the owner or management company. A defendant commits gross negligence if its acts or failures to act amount to willful or wanton disregard for its responsibilities. In essence, the defendant acted with reckless disregard or in bad faith. For example, ignoring bed bug complaints or attempting to “self-treat” the problem in an ineffective manner could result in a ruling of negligence.”

You could argue that the jury award in the Shaaban case demonstrates the ire of jurors not only over the insects but also over property managers or landlords who they feel didn’t deal with a known infestation.

In other words: negligence.

Shaaban’s attorney, Daniel W. Whitney, said it was the jury’s “opportunity to send a message to the community, to landlords, that you must abate [the bed bug infestation].”

Bed Bug Lease Addendums Provide Some Level of Protection

Property management companies and property owners are pushing to shift responsibility onto renters and tenants in leases that say that if bed bugs don’t turn up before or soon after a resident moves in, the resident must pay for extermination. One way to ensure that residents, owners, and property managers work together to minimize the potential for any bed bug outbreak in a rental dwelling or apartment community is to include a bed bug addendum in the lease.

The primary purpose of a bed bug addendum is to outline the responsibilities and potential liabilities of residents and owners when bed bugs are discovered in a rental dwelling. Yes, it involves extra paper work and time to train employees and educate residents, but preventing an $800,000 jury award from a lawsuit is well worth the extra effort.

 

Legal Disclaimer: The statements and representations made in this article are from a non-lawyer, are intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted or relied upon as legal advice. Please consult with a legal professional should you have any questions about the topics contained herein. The opinions expressed in this article may not reflect the opinions of RealPage, Inc.

 

 

  • guest

    The problem with the bed bug addendum is most property owners aren’t actually having apartments inspected by licensed pest control operators or firms, nor are they providing copies of the inspection results.

    In addition to this, bed bug addendums are one sided, purely for the benefit of the property owners, not the residents. More or less residents take full responsibility for bedbug infestations, regardless if they are responsible for the infestation or not. It can take fourteen days or longer for bedbugs who are already established in a dwelling to make their presence known, so forty eight hours is absolutely a nonsensical amount of time to “identify” a current infestation in a vacant apartment.

    With rents being through the roof and demand being higher than supply right now, renters are left with little to no choice in regards to renting. It also paves the way for ppl not to report infestation because they don’t want to be solely liable for something that may not even be their fault, hence the problem spreads.

    However to prospective tenants there is a way around this. Hire a PCO of your own to inspect the apartment before it is cleaned from the last tenant. I actually had one witch who refused to rent to me when she whipped out her bedbug addendum, and I came back a day later with an inspector from Orkin. Oh she was Livid! She absolutely refused to let him inspect the apartment before I signed that addendum.

    I told her straight up to expect me or anyone else to sign such a fantastic claim that the apartment was bedbug free without first subjecting it to a certified inspection where the results are provided to me is not only bad business, but should be illegal.

    She wanted me to hand back the addendum, I won’t say what I told her she should go do, and I also told her I was keeping it for educational purposes to show folks whom not to rent from.

    Best fifty dollars I have ever spent in my life. But the absolute most delicious part of that whole scenario is when the Orkin man started schooling her sorry… on what causes infestations to begin with, and that alienating tenants into the ‘sole” responsibility for bedbugs not only makes the problem worse, but ends up costing every one in the end more money, in front of five of her current tenants.

    Moral of the situation, don’t be cheap and crafty, it eventually comes back to bite you. If landlords treated the way they should to begin with, there wouldn’t be a bedbug problem.

  • The truth of the matter is that the bed bug infestation is being brought to the people by the CIA.

    Bed bugs were virtually eradicated in the united States for fifty years.

    But, im not telling PMI anything he doesnt already know. He is running a disinformation dispersion and information collection site for the CIA. So, anything you get off this site most likely is skewed to their malevolent little game.

    The bed bugs are being bred in a “nursery” in Fresno and distributed to agents and operatives to disperse to homes and hotels all over the US.

    The reasoning is that the CIA has gone rouge and are fulfilling prophecy and fomenting the biblical “Battle of the Armageddon”.

    The CIA is going to execute a “coup de main” in the future at some point” which will quickly escalate and become the “final battle” and all right here, in California.

    The reason this is happening is the CIA has been infiltrated and is now under the control of the mormons. If you look at the history of the mormons, they are well understood as malevolent idiots who historically try to steal what they think they want. (See Missouri Mormon war, Illinois mormon war, Montana mormon war, and their favorite “Mountain Meadow Massacre” where the mormons under the order of bringham young, murdered 114 men, women and children (except for the kids under six years old. They kept them to be their slaves) in cold blood. The innocents were killed solely for their possessions.

    Are you seeing the “malevolent” i spoke of?

    In the missouri mormon war, the governor enacted Executive Order 44, which was an “Extermination Order” to shoot on sight any mormon found in the state of Missouri. E.O.#44 remained on Missouri’s books until 1976.

    Despite the toothy smiles that they reflect to the outside world, when you and i are not within earshot, they refer to us as “infidel worms”.

    The reason they are attemping to bring the battle of the Armegeddon is that their church “prophet” who is uncredentialed and has a miserable track record, foretold the church members (wrongly) that they would run the world at the end of time.

    They have been anxious to get into thr drivers seat and are now forcing things to come to pass.

    They have somehow twisted the prophecy into the notion that they will be the only ones here. Their plan goal is to eliminate 90% of the world population so that only they are left.

    Well, them and a bunch of six year olds to be their slaves.

    What mister cunningham does not yet understand is that while he is an “operative” of the CIA, he is not a mormon, which means that as soon as he is of no more use to the mormons, he gets to go “down the chute” with all the rest of us.

    He is not alone. There are many who have bought into the mormons deceitful lies. Plain and simple bold faced lies. They will tell you whatever they think you want to hear ti get these individuals to buy into their malevolence.

    This is because when some idiot walks in to your office and flashes a government credential and says,”we need your help to eliminate this menace” everyone wants to help the government really doesnt thinks that “this is a rouge agent” or that the entire organization is rouge.

    Do not be fooled by their bullsh1t!

    Ironically, it is their lies that will be their comeuppance. They have taken it to an extreme and lied to the military organizations that they have imported from around the world to help them carry out the impending coup and once their allies that now form the “World Army” and are currently here in subterranean bivouacks come together and reach an understanding about the mormons deceptions, the World Army will at that time assume their biblical persona, as Gog and Magog and will destroy the malevolent idiots. You can read about it in the bibles book of Revelation, chapter 20.

    So, if you want to blame the bed bugs on someone, it would be the mormons who you want to talk to.

    Michael Cunningham has been lied to and believed what he was told. He is just as much a victim as the poor saps that get bed bug bit.

    You need to know the truth, Mike. Spread the word!

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