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Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite; If They Do, Are You Insured?

Most of us grew up thinking that bedbugs were make-believe, like the monster under the bed. Unfortunately, they are not. Bedbugs have returned in force to infest dwellings and public spaces throughout the United States.

In fact, there have been almost 1,000 documented cases in Colorado of bed bugs infesting apartment buildings, complexes and hotels across the state, causing business owners and tenants a lot of headaches and a lot of money.

At Southern Colorado Insurance Center, our experienced agents want to make sure you, as a building owner, and your tenants are properly covered should an outbreak arise.

Pests and Colorado’s Warranty of Habitability Law

Colorado’s Implied Warranty of Habitability Act says, in essence, that when you sign a lease, you promise that your unit is fit to be lived in. These requirements call for extermination services if there is any sign of pests, rodents or other infestation.

If you suspect bedbugs on your property, schedule a proactive extermination. Some pest control firms use dogs to sniff out the bugs and can provide a certificate attesting that your unit is pest-free.

Once your property is rented out, the Warranty of Habitability Act says that if a tenant reports a “breach” or violation of the standard, you are responsible for remedying it. So if your tenant reports signs of bedbugs, you need to call an extermination service, regardless of whose fault it is.

Make sure to document tenant communications and efforts to fix the problem in writing.

Your lease can spell out who is responsible for the costs of extermination as long as these provisions do not conflict with the warranty of habitability law. Of course, it would be easier for you to ask the tenant to pay for extermination costs if you can prove that the unit was certified bedbug-free before the tenant moved in. (And that no adjacent tenants have complained of bedbugs, too.)

Educate your Tenants, Include a pest control provision in your lease

Cautious landlords might take two additional steps to guard against bedbugs.

First, educate your tenants about bedbugs and how to prevent their arrival in the home. Caution them against acquiring used furniture, especially beds and couches, and especially items left out on the street. Warn them about how bedbugs hitchhike in luggage from foreign travel.

Second, ask tenants to read and sign a lease with a clause that limits your legal liability for damages that may occur as a result of bedbugs and their extermination. The provision may also reiterate your tenants’ responsibility to inform you of any infestations and provide access to the property for pest control.

With the growing number of bed bug cases in Colorado, it is important for apartment building owners and landlords to understand the options available. Southern Colorado Insurance Center agents are happy to determine what insurance coverage you may need to protect yourself from future bed bug infestation claims.

Don’t let the potential of bed bugs keep you up at night. With Southern Colorado Insurance Center, you can have peace of mind knowing that you and your tenants are covered if an outbreak occurs in one of your buildings!