Friday, 30 August 2013

Bedbugs in my Apartment--what do I do?

The thing about bedbugs is that the infestation in your apartment can build up over time without you realizing what is happening.  That is, until one day, you wake up and find just too many bites on your arms, legs, and body.

Bedbugs are fairly small and in the early stages of having bedbugs it is not unusual to not see them.  Generally nocturnal, you will not see bedbugs scurrying around in the day time and even if they are on the move they are small enough to miss unless you are looking for them.

How to treat for bedbugs is a matter of some debate---even among experts. I've heard lots of stories and there are treatments that people swear by that just seem downright odd.  In my experience, being at the landlord and tenant board fairly often with bedbug cases, the only truly effective treatments are the ones carried out by professional and licenced pest control companies.  The "do it yourself" remedies, if they do anything at all, simply knock down the populations to numbers that are not so intrusive on your daily life (i.e. you're not always covered in bites etc.).  I've yet to hear of a truly successful do it yourself treatment.  This is especially true in large apartment buildings where infestations of bedbugs tend to spread from unit to unit.  This means that any treatment done in one unit will drive the bugs to neighbouring units and when the treatment is done they will slowly come back.  Success requires treatment of all infested units.

The point of this article is to advise a tenant of what to do if they have bedbugs.  The short answer is--- report it immediately to the landlord in writing and request professional treatment of the bedbugs.  Having the landlord drop off a few cans of insecticide is NOT going to work.

If your landlord hires a professional exterminator you can expect to recieve a letter/form from the company advising you how to prepare your unit for treatment.  Unfortunately, you will discover from the letter/form that there will be a fair amount of effort and expense on your part in getting ready for the treatment.  One of the biggest costs is laundering pretty much everything in your apartment in hot water and then sealing the items in plastic bags until the infestation is eradicated.

Your landlord is indeed required to have your unit treated as part of the landlord's obligation to maintain the premises under the lease.  Sometimes, the landlord will seek to impose the costs of pest control on a tenant as the landlord will blame the tenant for the infestation.  Generally speaking, the costs of pest control can not be passed on to tenants or at least the Board is not awarding such costs as a matter of course.  There are some exceptions of course, where intentional or negligent conduct on the part of a tenant can be demonstrated to have caused the infestation there is a stronger argument that the tenant should bear the cost of treatment.  To date, those cases are rare as it is difficult to prove how a rental unit came to be infested.

Michael K. E. Thiele
Ottawa Lawyer
www.ottawalawyers.com

97 comments:

  1. Hello,
    According to Alberta Health guidelines the infested apartment(s) should be properly treated twice within 14 days.
    Apartments above, below, and sided by the infested apartment(s) should be sealed with expanding insulating foam FIRST and should be treated first BECAUSE the bugs run from the poison and heat treatments and without sealing the surrounding area first youre just chasing them along the building.
    Unfortunately even licensed pest control experts are not doing this, and of course the landlords arent doing this either.
    Too much expense.
    No one is telling the public that the poison Canadians are using only lasts for twenty days!
    No laws to encourage them to do the right procedure.
    So the problem spreads.
    Health Canada advises air tight sealing your belongings for 1.5 YEARS.
    Once in a lease you have NO legal grounds to break the lease even if you can prove there was a bedbug problem before you moved in even if the manager swore there was no problem.
    Bedbugs are not considered a health risk even though a doctor in Vancouver, BC is tracking a strain of MRSA through bedbugs traveling thru the downtown core.
    That the government is not informing the public, isnt a surprise.

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    1. Thank you for the comment. I can't say anything about the Alberta guidelines as my focus is entirely here in Ontario. The idea of foaming and sealing makes sense to me as I have often enough heard and dealt with cases of re-infestation where shortly after treatments neighbouring units get infested and a short time later the bugs return. In the end, my experience is that good licenced pest control experts do the job correctly if you give them the leeway to do the job. In cases at the Board, where I have the pest control expert on the stand I always explore with that expert what constraints were put on them by the landlord. Sometimes the answer is that the services were limited by budget or that the landlord simply did not give the green-light for the recommended approach. I ask these questions whether on the side of the landlord or the tenant as the answer is relevant to both defending an application based on bedbugs as it is pursuing a tenant for failing to comply with treatment protocols (hence eviction).

      The remainder of the science in relation to bedbugs I'll leave without commenting as I have no qualifications in that regard.

      However, your statement that "you have NO legal grounds to break the lease" is in fact incorrect and wrong---in Ontario. I make no comment about the statement as it relates to other provinces. Certainly, the Landlord and Tenant Board recognizes situations of fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations as a basis to terminate residential tenancies in the appropriate circumstances. Some adjudicators have also considered the presence of bedbugs at the commencement of the tenancy as evidence that the premises were never fit for habitation (a requirement under the legislation) and based a termination of the tenancy on what one can broadly call a "fundamental breach" of the leasing contract.

      In summary, anyone reviewing this comment thread, who is suffering from a bedbug problem, should seek legal advice (from a lawyer, paralegal, community legal clinic) about your specific circumstances because what is true for one case is not necessarily true for your case. Depending on the circumstances you may very well have a strong case.

      Michael Thiele
      Ottawa Ontario
      Lawyer

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    2. I desperately need legal advise about a negligent lanlord. I had told her about the bed bug problems and that I was having sever reactions to the bites.
      Almost debilitating... I have multiple pictures.
      She ignored my plee for help. Literally.
      I don't have money to pay a lawyer.

      Please help!!! Please...

      Please help.

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    3. Hi There: I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you are having. Your landlord, presuming your unit is in Ontario and regardless of what she might say, is responsible to deal with the pest infestation (bed bugs) and she is responsible to get a professional pest control expert into your unit immediately. Hopefully you have called, written, emailed and faxed her so that you can prove that you have complained about the problem. As your complaints are not resulting in any action and depending on where in the province of Ontario that you live, you should consider contacting the property standards department of the city, town, township. Hopefully they will have a property standards by-law that will allow the by-law officer to make an immediate order requiring the landlord to have the premises treated. Sometimes, depending on where you are, you can call the local health department and they will come and inspect and make a similar order.

      Bedbug treatment will be slow and it will require you to cooperate with the pest control company in making the unit ready for treatment. Make sure to get the preparation sheet when the pest company comes.

      If you can not get help from the property standards department in your area you will have to go about this another way. You indicate that you have no money for a lawyer--which perhaps means you qualify for help from a local community legal clinic. Have you checked out the clinics? They will be free. There is a theoretical right to a legal aid certificate if the clinic can't help you--which means you could retain a private lawyer with that certificate. Unfortunately, the Ontario government's priorities are such that funding for legal aid and in particular for housing related issues have been drastically cut as the problems of tenants are not considered a priority.

      If you are unable to get help from the city or town you're in, and not from a legal clinic, and no legal aid certificate, then you will need to consider doing it yourself. For a do it yourself plan I would recommend that you read my blogs, then get yourself a form T2 (Tenant's Rights) and a form T6 (Maintenance). You can download that from the Landlord and Tenant Board website--the links to the forms are all through my blog too if you search it. You should file the applications with the Board and seek an order requiring the landlord to have the premises treated or alternatively to allow you to hire a professional company and deduct the cost from ongoing rent.

      Lastly, if you happen to be in a larger location like Ottawa, you can draft your application and get a little help with it at the duty counsel office. They can tell you what you need to be successful--i.e. what kind of evidence etc..

      Best of luck. If you're stuck and need some guidance feel free to send me specific questions, I'm happy to help you if I can.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.pqtlaw.com

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  2. Why do I feel I may have been the inspiration for this post lol.

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  3. Thanks for the share! I have been doing some research on How To Kill Bedbugs and the consensus seems to be that steam cleaning is the way to go. Simply steam clean every square inch of the effected room and let it sit for a week. Once that week is up go in and inspect the area to make sure they are all gone. If for some reason you find a few re-steam the room and start the process all over again.

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  4. Hi Joan: Heat treating certainly is an option that you see more and more of. Here in Ottawa there are some trucks that you see run heating pipes into units, turn the heat (furnace up high) and they bring the entire unit and everything in it up to a temperature that kills the bugs (I think it dries them out). If I recall correctly the temperature they aim for is in the 40's for an extended duration. I don't know anyone who has undergone this kind of treatment but would love to hear about both successes and failures. I think your steam system likely works with direct contact with the bug--that will be the key I think. Mike

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  5. Hello Michael, I unfortunately received bedbugs last month in my apartment and I am almost certain they came from the building. It is a large building (over 200 units), and I was told I had to have the place exterminated by someone the building had a contract with. I obliged, but now they are trying to charge me for this treatment ($300). How tedious is the process to go to the Ottawa landlord and tenant board?

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi there: Given the size of the building I wouldn't expect the landlord to try and charge back the exterminator to the tenant. I haven't yet seen a case where a landlord has successfully charged back exterminator fees to tenants. I have however, seen many try it. If you are an unlikely source of the bedbugs then the landlord's attempt to charge you is especially cheeky. Further, the charge of $300 is excessive for a treatment. All that being said, I have seen successful chargebacks--and in fact have argued for them---in cases where tenants have failed to prepare a unit for treatment, prevented treatment and refused access. In extreme cases, where the non-cooperation is complete or it verges on being so indifferent to the interests of the landlord that it seems like an intentional act of acquiring or maintaining bedbugs then it is not only possible to successfully argue for chargebacks against the tenant but also get eviction. From your comment, you do not sound like one of these uncooperative tenants.

      That the landlord provides the pest control is correct and that you use the landlord's person is also correct. The pest control person should be a licenced contractor and this person should have no problem disclosing that he/she is licenced.

      How tedious is it to go to the Board? It is an effort for sure and it will take far more time than you can imagine. You will likely attend more than once and be frustrated by the hearing process. However, compared to going to Court, it is fast, efficient, and profoundly transparent.

      Michael K. E. Thiele

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  6. Hi Michael,

    I'm currently experiencing a bed bug infestation for the 3rd time in 2 months. Each of the roommates upstairs had to get their room heat treated one at a time which basically led to the bugs going from room to room at different times (if that makes any sense). The last time I had an infestation (2 weeks ago) I got the landlord to heat treat my room (AGAIN) and I asked him to do it for 2 days at least and he didn't think it was necessary, so here I am again... with bed bugs...during exam period. More stressed out than ever. I live in an off campus student housing place so I'm not quite sure if the rules are different. I want to break my lease since this bed bug problem hasn't been solved. It's been 3 months since this has been happening on and off between the 3 roommates and me. The heat treatment is obviously not working and he has yet to call an exterminator. I mean, 3 months!!! If the heat treatment hasn't worked all this time why hasn't he called outside help? I'm not sure if I'm making sense because I've probably only slept 13 hours in the past 3 days but I hope you can understand what I'm saying. Do I have legal grounds to break my lease? I'm currently looking for an another apartment because I can't go through all this again (Removing all liquids, cans, dvd's etc. from my room, bagging and drying my stuff and washing it and drying it again) I don't have it in me to do this a 4th time especially since I start summer school next month and GOD FORBID there be another infestation. I'll have a mental breakdown. Please tell me that I can get out of my lease a.s.a.p and that I don't have to sublet. I wouldn't feel right letting someone else move into my room especially if I know that they might end up with a bed bug problem again. Please, please, pleaaaassse tell me that I can move out tomorrow if i wanted to and not have to look back or get stuck with still having to pay rent there or finding another person to take over. Please. I'm desperate.

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi Ashley-Joydana: What a terrible problem to have. As your goal is to terminate your tenancy and move out the first step would be to approach your landlord and ask him to agree to terminate your tenancy. You should download and have with you a Form N11 (Agreement to Terminate). The form has a spot for you to put a termination date on it and it can be any date that you agree upon. If you approach your landlord with this Form in hand, you should be ready to commit to a termination date as your tenancy is over once both of you sign the form. Your landlord may wish to resist signing an agreement to terminate and you might have to make some arguments to get him to agree so he sees the wisdom of letting you go. High light the inconvenience of the bed-bugs and that there is no obvious end in sight. Mention that from your perspective the room is not fit for habitation which is a breach of his obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act. Hopefully you can get some agreement on this point with him.

      If not, you will have three choices. The first choice is to give a legal notice of termination in Form N9. That Notice of Termination is a minimum 60 days to the end of term. If you are on a month to month and the rent is payable on the first then your termination date would be the last day of the month that is at least 60 days away (so, today is April 22--if you gave the N9 today the termination date would be June 30). You can get more guidance on the N9 Form in the "Important Information" at the bottom of the Form.

      If waiting out the notice period (and heaven forbid you are on a fixed term lease with many more months on it), then a second option is to file an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board asking for an Order terminating your lease. I would use a Form T2 (Tenant's Rights) to make the application. You will have a better sense of the strength of your case if you understand a bit more about bedbugs. In that regard, if you are prepared to pay a bit, perhaps you can get a local pest control expert to speak with you, provide you with a report, or even attend a hearing with you. Does your School have any pest experts who might offer up their services for free? I am hardly an expert but I expect that you would find that you have not had three infestations of bedbugs. I suspect that you have had one continuous infestation that has never been resolved. The treatments that your landlord is doing is perhaps knocking the population down a bit each time, but he has never actually eliminated the bugs. Your landlord should really be calling an expert in pest control--and a licenced one--for proper treatment. His reluctance and failure to do so, to date, is a good reason for the Board to terminate your tenancy. You have suffered for quite a while, and even if a licenced pest control expert is called now, the process to get rid of the bugs will take several weeks (pehaps a month or two). It seems a reasonable request to ask the Board terminate your tenancy in light of this delay. Be aware, though, that termination of a tenancy is not an easy remedy to get from the Board. The Board may be inclined to award you damages (rent abatment) and perhaps an ongoing rent abatement---but not termination.

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    2. The third option that I see is simply moving out and returning possession of the premises to your landlord. Having had the conversation with the landlord, asking to terminate and him presumably saying no, it will come as no surprise to him that you decide to vacate the premises. I would make sure to document the background of why you are moving out and send it to him by email so you have a record. I would also give him an N9 with the termination date being the day you move out (this will technically be a void Notice as it does not comply with the notice requirements). However, even the void Form will have legal value to you in the future (if he sues) and it leaves no doubt that you have returned possession to the landlord. Make sure to keep a copy of the Form that you give him. When you return the keys make sure to confirm in an email, fax, or get a receipt for the keys from him---the point is to have definitive evidence of the day you return possession to him.

      If you proceed with the third option the landlord may choose to sue you in the small claims court for the lost rent during the notice period that you were required to provide (60 days if you are on a month to month or the balance of the fixed term if there is more than two months remaining). If he chooses to sue you, then you will have an opportunity to defend and file your own claim against him for what you went through. The failure to address the bed bug infestation properly (hopefully you have evidence of this from the expert you find) is a great basis for terminating the tenancy as of the day you move out and it is also great evidence for your claim for reimbursement of rent etc.. Also, the Landlord is required as of the date that you move out to try to re-rent your room to someone else. His claim against you is limited by any new tenant he gets. Hence, if you move out on Monday and three days later on Thursday he re-rents the room his claim against you may be limited to 3 days of rent. His duty to try to re-rent is something you can explore at the trial to see if he diligently sought a new tenant to replace you. If he did not, then the Court may disallow his claim on the basis that he did not mitigate his damages.

      I hope that helps you out a bit. There are a lot of issues in your situation and you should consider getting legal advice. Does your school have a legal clinic for students? If so, consider getting help from them as they can take you through the process.

      Best of luck.

      Michael K. E. Thiele

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  7. Hello Michael ,

    First I would like to thank you for the info you have provided it is really helpful. I'm in a similar situation I just moved to Ottawa with my wife and two year old son to a building only to notice after two weeks of occupying the unit bug bites all over my body. I'm only a month in my 12 month lease , I notified my landlord right away and they did first extermination last week and I complied with all the instructions which was extremely daunting . However after doing research on the internet I found that this is an ongoing issue for this particular building and I was extremely terrified to read some of the reviews of past tenants provided at the bedbug registry website . I'm concerned that this issue will never go away even with treatment because the whole building is infested. Here is copy of the letter I plan to give to the building management to give you a bit of background on the situation>(((Dear Sir / Madam
    I, ....................., a current tenant occupying unit ..........................rented the unit as of April 1st, 2014. After approximately two weeks I started to notice insect bites all over my body, without further due I complied with the lease requirements and immediately notified the office of the situation. On April 29, 2014 I received a notice with instructions informing me that on May 1st, 2014 pest control will enter the unit for the purpose of extermination. I complied with the all of the instruction in preparation for the extermination for example I washed and laundered all clothing articles, sheets, and also beddings keeping in mind that were are family of three with a 20 month old baby, I also moved all other articles from dressers and night stands and moved everything to the kitchen area and followed all other instructions carefully. I hope that management will recognize the time loss and cost expenses associated with the daunting process of preparation. On May 1st, 2014 I entered the unit after the extermination process and slept that night with all the extermination fumes not knowing the health risks and side effects of doing this. The instructions also indicate that after two weeks the process will be done once more. Thankfully my wife and 20 month old son are not living with me yet, however they will join me in a month or so after which I hope the situation would have been dealt with. After researching the building on the internet and talking to a few of the residents it seems that this issue is an ongoing one with both 1971 and 1975 and was stunned after reading some reviews of past tenants on the building and infestation with bed bugs , I wish I had done so before signing the lease. I have never had such a problem before moving into the unit and can provide proof if needed.

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  8. We were excited to call this home when I first signed the lease and sadly right now my experience so far has been extremely painful, I can’t get a good night’s sleep without waking up to a bug bite in the middle of the night, I can’t wear short sleeves or short pants without my friends and coworkers noticing bug marks all over my arms and legs I’m sorry to say this but I’m utterly disgusted!. I’m terrified at the fact that my son who has health issues and my wife will soon join me in occupying my so called new home. I realize that the buildings have new managers and that you’re doing your best in dealing with such situations that I’m sure are present due to the negligence of the previous owners but I hope you understand my frustration. If for some reason the issue continues to be present after the second extermination keep in mind that I still notice bug bites after the first, I will be forced to request lease termination because this has significantly impacted the my quality of life and the unit is not fit for habitation.)))

    My question is : Id like to move out ASAP and before my two year old son comes to live with me ?
    Is the landlord required by-law to give a notice of bedbugs before the unit is rented ? especially if its an ongoing issue with the building?

    I didn't include the name of the building because I wasn't sure Im allowed to do so on here I can also provide the link to the bedbug registry website that has all the terrifying stories of previous tenants .

    Thank you very much for your input and any info you provide , it is much appreciated

    All the best !!

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    1. Hi and than you for your question. I know your building simply from the conjoining street numbers that you mention and I know the Managment has just changed--it changes rather frequently at these buildings. Anyway, you are using the right phrase when you say fit for habitation--that the unit isn't. Most often, the fact of bedbugs is a matter for treatment and is one of those things that just happens in life. However, given the ongoing problem in your building you could reasonably argue that the unit was not fit for habitation when the landlord rented it to you. This argument has been favorably received by some adjudicators--and with the right evidence of continued infestation (get statements from your neighbors and find out home much treatment is done by pest control in your building). It is reasonable to argue that the landlord owed you so e notice of the problem in the building. In my view, the argument to terminate is stronger if you act now--waiting is not the way to go. Given the history I am aware of I don't think you will be happy living there any time soon at S.L. You can decide to seek Board permission to terminate (safest way) or move out regardless (potential consequences be damned) and seek permission after the fact. You would use a T2 form which you can get from the Landlord and Tenant Board website.

      Best of luck

      Michael K E Thiele

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  9. Many thanks Michael for the prompt reply >>>do reviews from the bedbug registry website serve as enough legal proof ? Id like to move as earliest possible and before my family arrives I don't want them to spend one night here.... but I'm worried that they will argue that I didn't wait for the whole extermination process.... also the fact that all my furniture /clothing/baby stuff is now infected and I'm without choice thinking the best solution is to get rid of everything and just move after taking a very long hot bath ....

    Thanks again !!

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    1. The bedbug registry is not actually evidence. In fact, I've seen that site used by people for all sorts of reasons beyond the stated purpose of the site. Evidence of bedbug infestation will need to come from other tenants, the landlord, the pest control company, your own inquiries. The landlord may in fact suggest/accuse you of bringing the bedbugs into the building in your furniture. It would be interesting to know if the prior tenant in your unit had any bedbug problems. Proving that the landlord rented you a bedbug infested unit will be key to your argument.that the Board should terminate your tenancy. From the sounds of it, you had a fairly significant infestation in a rather short period of time (making me wonder if you didn't move into a heavily infested unit). Perhaps speak with the pest control contractor and get a sense about it from him. Ultimately, whether you stay to see if treatment works, seek permission to terminate and move, or move regardless and deal with the consequences, is a question of what you are prepared to put up with. You are correct that you likely have a significant problem moving elsewhere while all of your furniture and personal property is infested as you don't want to simply bring the bugs to your new place. There is no ready or simple solution to your problem though I think forming an opinion about the long term chance of being a happy tenant in this residential complex is helpful in determining what steps to take.

      Michael K. E. Thieel

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  10. Thought you might be interested in an update ...I searched through the mail that I receive for previous tenants and I looked through the yellow pages and found a number...I contacted the previous tenant and was told they had the exact same problem , they had the same treatment process that I'm going through right now and that wasn't sufficient the bugs never went away they ended up moving to another apartment within the same building.

    Do u know who I can contact for legal aid matters with regards to this situation ? do you take on such cases?

    Thanks,

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    1. I must say it's not entirely a surprise. I can't recall which clinic covers your catchment area--it will either be South Ottawa Community Legal Services--they are across from Billings Bridge--or you will fall into the Community Legal Services and they are located at 1 Nicholas Street just behind the Rideau Centre. You might also have some luck with an organization called Housing Help. I will accept a Legal Aid certificate if you can get one but that has become an almost impossible task in Eastern Ontario with budget cuts.

      Good luck, if you have difficulty getting help (which you might indeed find to be the case) feel free to give me a call.

      Michael Thiele

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  11. Michael, if the unit is a house and it has been leased by the same tenant for over 1 1/2 years without the detection of bedbugs, is the landlord still responsible for the cost of extermination?

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    1. Hi: I'm unaware of any cases that treat bedbugs as anything other than a "maintenance" obligation of a landlord. I've certainly seen numerous attempts by landlords to charge back extermination costs to tenants but I have never seen that be successful after a hearing. I have, however, seen extermination chargebacks be successful where the tenant failed to cooperate with treatments and where the landlord could point to very specific things that the tenant did that contributed or caused the infestation or prevented the infestation from being treated. The mere passage of time with the tenant in exclusive possession of the rental unit would not, in my opinion, be enough to shift the cost of treatment to the tenant.

      Michael K. E. Thiele

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  12. Hi Michael, I have been renting out a room in my own home to a friend. With no written rental agreement. Is it my responsibility to cover cost of treatment

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    1. Hi: I presume from your short comment that your relationship with your friend does not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act. If your rental relationship isn't governed by the RTA then the terms of your rental relationship is governed by your agreement. If your agreement is silent on this point then you should see what you can do by way of negotiating with your friend. If your friend refuses to pay for bug treatment and you are confident that the circumstances dictate that he/she should pay then you might have to consider ending your relationship with your friend. Ultimately, because it is your home, you will bear the cost of the treatment as you own the house and don't want an infested home.

      Good luck
      Michael K. E. Thiele
      ottawalawyers.com

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  13. Hi, recently i moved from high rise building when iam moving out i didnt see the bed bugs after one week new tenant came and found bed bug and my landlord called me and ask about the bugs i said i didnt see any thing but my land lord mention its a big problem and lots of bug in apt,and he spend 1000$ for treatment and he is expecting some thing from me what can i do?

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    1. Hi: If I understand you correctly, your former landlord is saying that they found bedbugs in your apartment after you moved out. Is it fair to presume that you don't have bedbugs in your new place? If this is true, it is hard to see how the bugs in your old apartment can be linked to you. If you had bedbugs at your old place you would likely have bedbugs in your new place. These bugs would travel with you in your possessions. I don't see how you have any liability as I don't even see how your old landlord can prove that you had bugs. Maybe the new tenant brought in the bugs--maybe the new tenant rented a truck that had bugs in it--how can you know where they came from? Even if you had bedbugs in your old place it is accepted that treatment for pests is a landlord's responsibility. The cost of treatment and preparation can shift to the tenant if there is a failure to cooperate but if the bugs appear through no apparent fault of the tenant then the landlord is responsible for the costs. Lastly, I should mention that $1000 for a treatment sounds very high based on the invoices that I have seen. At $1000 I presume he has had the whole building treated and the other units? Sounds like the landlord wants you to pay for quite a bit of treatment for this price.

      Michael K. E. Thiele

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  14. Hi Michael, My boyfriend and I moved into a new apartment back at the beginning of August. 2 weeks ago we found bed bugs in the bedroom and immediately told our landlord. Someone came to inspect the unit and we were given a list of things to do in preparation for the treatment. Today someone came in to do the treatment. I went down to the office to ask a question and was told that we did not properly prepare for the treatment (our cleaning was not up to their standards). The issue I have is that we followed their preparation list exactly as it describes and cleaned the apartment thoroughly! I even called to double check on a number of things prior to. Now they are saying that if a second treatment is needed that we are responsible to pay for it. Is that right? (They are paying for the initial treatment).

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    1. Hi: Was the treatment provided by a licenced pest control company? I'd be interested in knowing what the person who treated your unit actually said. In my experience, if a unit isn't properly prepared the pest control person does not actually complete the treatment. Instead they go away and give further direction as to unit preparation.

      It is true that repeated instances of failing to prepare a unit for treatment--where that failure is not lawfully excused---may lead to a Notice of Termination--and possibly even a requirement that the tenant pay for costs that were already and needlessly incurred.

      How it is being described to you is not typical or within my experience at all. In fact, your landlord sounds like the type of landlord who is trying to shift the expense of treatment to the tenant for the sole purpose of trying to save money. You are likely to require further treatment and attendance at your unit. If you complied with the unit preparation sheet (take pictures next time) then he landlord is not he hook for the follow up costs. Even if your preparation was not perfect, the landlord remains on the hook and can't simply refuse to treat the unit.

      Hope that helps

      Michael K.E. Thiele

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    2. Sorry some typos in the reply. " ... then the landlord is on the hook for the follow up costs"

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  15. Hi Michael,

    Me and my family currently live in an apartment building in Oshawa ontario. Four weeks ago we found out we were infested with bed bugs all of a sudden. Over the next week we found out the source which was an apartment below us. Our landlord never told anyone about the infestation. We have since learned that there are many others in our building who have them. The landlord hired a pest control company to come and spray. I read above that a professional should seal the ajoining apartments so that they dont run to them. The pest company did not do this. There 12 minute treatment consists of one lone individual coming and spraying the baseboards and then coming back in two weeks. So the pest control company came and sprayed and afterwards we never saw one dead bed bug. The numbers did not decrease so we took matters into our own hands. We have sealed all cracks and holes within caulking. We have had to throw out our beds, dressers, couches basically everything we own. We are now sleeping in tents. My question is have you ever heard of anyone sucessfully suing the landlords for loss of their posessions? We want to take these scum bags to small claims court for loss of posessions, the pain of all the bites we had (especially my mother).

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    1. Hi: I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Unfortunately, bedbugs are a rampant problem not just in Ontario but in all jurisdictions where the use of pesticides (especially the ones that work) has been restricted by the government. Anyway, I completely understand your desire to want to sue the landlord as not only have you not had any quiet enjoyment of the apartment but you have also lost real possessions that cost a lot of money to replace. Can the landlord be made liable for the infestation or for you not having quiet enjoyment of your rental unit? The law has changed over time on this issue. At one time, the Courts tended towards the viewpoint that the landlord was effectively a guarantor of your quiet enjoyment. If you didn't get it (i.e. the proper use of your unit), then the landlord was liable for at least an abatement of rent. That position has changed over time and I think it is fair to say that the Landlord and Tenant Board only finds liability on the part of the landlord if the landlord fails to meet its obligations under the RTA. If an unforeseen event happens---not at the fault of the landlord--then the landlord is not liable to the tenant so long as the landlord takes proper steps to fix the problem.

      I have seen success on the part of a tenant where the tenant alleged that the landlord rented a unit to the tenant that was infested at the time of renting and that the landlord knew that it was infested. The tenant argued that the landlord knew the infested unit was not fit for habitation (which all rental units must be). Because the unit was not fit for habitation at the time of renting, the landlord was held liable for the damages the tenant suffered as a result of moving into an infested unit. I'm not sure if this "theory" of liability fits your case.

      Delete
    2. Another angle, is to consider whether the landlords response to a bedbug infestation is reasonable and proper. Normally, if a landlord hires a reputable pest control company and follows the recommendations of that pest control company then there is really not much else that reasonably could be done to deal with the infestation. I note that you have grave doubts about this pest control company or perhaps that the landlord is not following the recommendations of the company. As the landlord has a duty to provide you with premises fit for habitation (and presuming infested premises are not fit for habitation), the landlord must take reasonable steps to fix the unit once the landlord is aware of the problem. Unreasonable delay in doing so will attract liability--even in the context of today's interpretation of responsibilities under the RTA. If you want to "sue" the landlord (as opposed to filing a T2 & T6 application to the Board---which is the approach some would argue you must follow), you will need to have expert evidence that the manner of treatment followed by the pest control company hired by the landlord is inadequate or deficient. If the tactic is to say that the landlord didn't seal up cracks and holes then you will need an expert opinion that sealing cracks and holes is part of the reasonable and proper protocol in dealing with bed bug infestations. You will also need some kind of evidence that establishes that had these processes been followed that you would not have suffered the damages that you have suffered. It is not enough to rely on "common sense" or to argue that the answer is "obvious". As a plaintiff/applicant you have the burden of proof and must establish the essential elements of your entire case on a balance of probabilities.

      You will very likely have to hire a pest control company as an expert to review the process followed by the landlord's company. You may wish to ask your expert what other treatments could have been followed and whether there is anything that can be done when a building has multiple infestations in multiple units. Should there have been wider treatment given the problems in the entire building? If so, did the landlord do what he should have done. Please note that in hiring a pest control company to be an expert that you need to find someone who truly is an expert. A recent graduate, recently licenced, doing pest control for the past 6 months is likely not an "expert".

      Best of luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  16. Hi Michael,

    I'm so relived to stumble across your website, it's been a enormous help. We moved into a unit last summer, and have now become absolutely infested with bed bugs. We've thrown out everything but the basics for living, and have given notice to move from this nightmare.

    My questions are, how do I find out if the previous tenant had the issue as well? Also, before moving into the unit I was advised that there was no problem with bed bugs. How can I prove I was advised of such? As well, they said that the surrounding units will not be treated....is this legal? I myself made notices at work for all units in my floor and surrounding units, that we have them. Am I legally allowed to distribute them?

    Thank you in advance.

    Patricia

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    1. Hi Patricia:

      There is no formal way to find the former tenant. You could ask the neighbours and hope that someone was friends with them and see if they have an address, Facebook, email, etc.. There is no central registry or anything like that for you to access. If you did not request confirmation of the bedbug status in writing, and the landlord refuses to acknowledge having made the oral statement, then you are left with simply testifying to the point and it comes down to credibility. You could bolster your credibility and believability by demonstrating why you might have asked about bedbugs. As for distributing fliers. There is nothing illegal about doing so. You will of course upset the landlord but I'm sure you are not concerned about that. Be sure that your notice is factually correct and not inflammatory as you may expect the landlord to try to come after you for defamation.

      Good luck

      Michael K.E. Thiele

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  17. Hi. I have a couple questions regarding bed bugs. My neighbor found out they had bed bugs, I had been over there before they knew about them. I stopped going over there and they stopped coming here after they found out. We told my landlord that I had been over there before they knew they had the bugs and wanted to know if my apartment should be inspected also to be safe. She said no. My landlord said that my apartment should be safe and that I didn't need an inspection. She didn't follow protocol. All apartments in the surrounding area, top, bottom and across should be inspected upon finding out one apartment has them. She did not do this. Nor did Pest Control. Now my landlord is telling me that I am responsible for paying the $1200 to have the treatment done in my apartment. Pest Control came on a Monday to do the heat treatment in my neighbors apartment. The failed to follow protocol and safely seal of the doors of the other apartments during the treatment. I had no problems until after that Monday. But I was told by my landlord and Pest Control that its impossible for bed bugs to travel distances to other apartment. Is this true? I'm only a few feet from my neighbors apartment. I did go over there the next day, because it was suppose to be safe. It was Tuesday, to help my neighbor move stuff around, because Pest Control left it a big mess. I found a bug in my apartment Tuesday night for the first time. I had no problems before Pest Control came and did the heat treatment. My landlord showed up unannounced early in the morning on Wednesday and she was very angry. And then showed up unannounced again on Friday with a Pest Control guy. They didn't find anything, said I would have to wait. I know I have them though. My questions. What are my rights and do I have to pay for the treatment? I don't feel it should be my responsibility because my land lord knew I had been over there before my neighbors knew and she failed to follow protocol and have my apartment and other surrounding apartments inspected.

    Thank you for any advise you can give me.

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    1. Hi:

      In Ontario the responsibility for pest treatment lies with the landlord. You are not responsible for paying for the treatment. In some instances, where tenants interfere with treatment or it can be clearly shown that the tenant is the source of the infestation through some negligent behaviour then costs for treatment can be sought from a tenant (for example---a tenant who repeatedly, though warned, brings home used furniture that has been abandoned and has not been checked for bedbugs may be negligent for causing infestations and be liable for the costs that flow from that behaviour). In most instances, the bedbugs arrive and infest a building without any clear or certain determination of their origin. Visiting a person who has bedbugs is not "negligent". On the facts you provide I see no basis for you to have to pay for the treatment.

      The things you were told about bedbug travel do not sound right to me. Equally your statement of the proper protocol for inspection is not something I would affirm, deny, or correct. The key to bedbug treatment, and pest treatment generally, is that you hire a professional who makes recommendations based on inspections of the actual property. Different protocols will be followed depending on the specific circumstances of each infestation. Though they might be similar, you will find that different pest control professionals do things a little differently from each other. It is a matter of experience.

      In the times that I have dealt with bedbug cases, and the pest control experts I have spoken with an examined under oath, the general rule is that you do indeed seal a room that is being heat treated, bugs do indeed travel, and if an infestation seems serious you do indeed inspect all around the infested unit to make sure that you're not missing any infestations. That being said, I'm open to the possibility that different circumstances call for different protocols.

      To challenge what your landlord is doing (or not doing) you would have to file an application to the LTB. You landlord will undoubtedly take the position that she is following the advice of a professional exterminator. To challenge that advice and to establish that the exterminator is not doing his work correctly you would need to retain a more qualified expert exterminator to provide a report and opinion. That of course will be fairly expensive and likely not worth it unless you have an infestation that remains untreated. With respect the $1200 charge I would simply not pay it and I would tell the landlord that she needs to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for payment as without an order from the Board you have no intention of paying that bill. Your landlord would presumably charge you that sum in a Form N5--on the basis that the pest control bill is the result of "damage" you caused by bringing in bedbugs--which of course she can't prove and which is very unlikely given that the bedbugs started in a different unit in the building.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    2. Hi Mr. Thiele,
      I just got off the phone with Orkin, and when I asked (as I'd seen other references to it online) the agent to confirm that the landlord is responsible for the costs of bedbugs in Ontario rental units, she hesitated and then very unconvincingly said that she wasn't sure about that, that it varied from case to case, and depended on whether tenants are the source of the bugs or not. The landlord said that when we immediately informed him ("You brought them in! You should pay.") I suppose Orkin doesn't care WHO pays, as long as they get paid. In this they are spreading false statements about the law as it stands in Ontario, as far as I can see from what you've said about the current laws.
      Our landlord definitely does not want professional exterminators involved, and has already forced our immigrant next-door tenants to pay for their own service.
      I'm not sure how we'll proceed. I don't want to get embroiled in a big legal battle over this, but at the same time I'm frustrated by bedbugs and Orkin's behaviour.

      We recently had family visit and suspect they MIGHT be the source, but perhaps it was also the next door neighbours of the townhouses we reside in - Orkin visited them about 4 months ago. Does the source of the bedbugs carry weight in this?

      Thanks for the good advice on your site.

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    3. Hi: I can only reiterate what I've said before. The obligation for pest treatment lies with the landlord. Failing proper and professional treatment you are looking at an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board and I expect that as tenants you would be successful in getting a rent abatement, an order for treatment, etc..

      Does the source matter? I suppose it could matter and if the source could be clearly proven then perhaps responsibility could be shifted. The problem is that the responsibility for a particular infestation is exceptionally and extremely difficult to prove. Bedbugs can survive for months in vacant units and treatments may only knock down infestations for a short while. How the bugs get into a residential complex is very tricky and the things can hitch a ride on almost anything. Getting a definitive answer that is actually accurate of where an infestation came from is, I suspect, impossible. Certainly, I've had pest control experts tell me that certain units have become a source for bugs for the rest of the complex--but no reputable pest control expert I have ever spoken to has been willing to definitively answer how bed bugs got into a unit in the first place.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  18. hi can a landlord be takin to court for rent back and loses furniture and such and the horrible scars I now have to live with because she knew about bedbugs but didn't disclose it. I have proof she did know

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    1. Hi: Pest infestation cases are difficult. However, if you have proof that the landlord knew your unit was infested before she rented it to you, then I think you have a case to argue that the landlord knowingly rented you a unit that was not fit for habitation (an obligation under the RTA). If the landlord leased you a unit that was not fit for habitation then the landlord should be responsible for the damages you suffered as a result of occupying a unit that was not fit for habitation.

      I'm not aware of any cases where this has been argued or tried but it seems like a reasonable claim to bring to me.

      Good luck and certainly, please let me know if you proceed with this matter and let me know the outcome.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  19. I encountered the same problem a few years ago. They sprayed My apartment 6 times.I now keep my clothes in rubber maid containers,I am not putting them back in the dresser. I also went to get legal advise, they told Me to ask for 2 months free rent for compensation. I downloaded the T2, and took the owners to the tribunal.
    He did Nothing!!. Except, had the super caulk the baseboards everywhere and they gave Me some Diatomaceous powder ( it's made from crushed sea shells and looks like glass under a microscope) to put along the baseboards, I put it Everywhere. Once they crawl through it, it cuts them up.Things were fine for a few years, now they are back!! I have bed bug covers on my mattresses and box spring.I got a bed frame, so they can't climb metal. I also used plastic cups, with the powder inside and put one under each leg of the frame. My bed is away from the wall, and nothing hangs down, to allow them to climb up. Now I have to go through the whole nightmare again! Bag everything,wash the bed sheets. I don't know how they got in, and I prepped everything to keep them out???

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    1. I'm sorry for your very bad luck. As you know from going through this, having a bedbug infestation is brutally inconvenient and stressful. From what you have written it seems to me that you are doing the correct things to minimize the chances of a severe infestation in your unit. However, your comment seems to reflect a belief that somehow you are attracting the bugs or that this is happening because of something within your control. It is entirely possible--in fact probable--that the problems are coming from neighbouring units. Some buildings have higher incidences of bedbugs. Sometimes the cause can be linked to high turnover in units, tenants picking up street furniture or discarded infested items and brining them into the building. When that is happening it is quite improbable that you will avoid infestation in your unit. The bedbugs will travel to your unit from neighbouring units. If this continues you may wish to consider moving to a different building taking care not to bring the bugs with you.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  20. Hi
    I have a question about bedbug treatment options in a rented unit.
    Do I, as the tenant, have to agree with (and consent to) the treatment method suggested by the landlord before they proceed? I ask because my landlord chose 'his guy' to do the job in my unit and the person wound up using a heavy and quite toxic smelling pesticide. As a result of the pesticide used, I can't stay in my apartment for longer than 20-30 minutes at a time without my eyes burning or feeling short of breath. I also get quite lightheaded and nauseous. Because of this pesticide toxicity, my unit has been uninhabitable for over a month. Can I seek a rent abatement in this case?

    thanks for any advice

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    1. Hi: The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) does not spell out a specific protocol for how a landlord is to deal with pest control. The legislation simply doesn't provide that level of detail. The RTA does require a Landlord to maintain a rental unit--see section 20 RTA. This section spells out a requirement that the unit be in a good state of repair, fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards.

      In your question you assert that the landlord in using his "guy" has made the unit uninhabitable and that there is a serious health and safety issue with being in the rental unit. Because this arises from the use of a pesticide (presumably), your statement that the place isn't safe, habitable etc., is a subjective statement in that you can't obviously demonstrate the problem by taking a photograph or a video. Proof of your assertion requires more than you just saying that there is something wrong with the pesticide treatment.

      Collect this evidence by asking the landlord in writing who his "guy" was. Ask for the brand names of the pesticide used and copies of the packaging and warning labels from the product. Ask for confirmation that the person who sprayed the pesticide was a licenced contractor. Inform the landlord, in writing, that you are having difficulty breathing, that there is a problem with the treatment and that you can't stay in the unit. Ask the landlord to send over a qualified expert contractor to investigate and deal with the problem.

      Consider then, seeking expert advice yourself. Will the Health Department come in and inspect, take samples? I don't know if they will--but if they don't ask for some guidance on who you could contact. Complain to them about your concern that you have been exposed to a chemical in your rental unit sprayed to kill bugs. If you have confirmation that the "guy" is not licenced mention that as well.

      The burden will be yours to prove that your rental unit is not habitable, that health and safety guidelines are not being followed, that your unit can only be occupied for short periods of time and that there are adverse health effects of being in the unit. If you have the evidence to establish what is wrong with your unit then you certainly may file an application against the landlord for an abatement of rent--and for other orders requiring the landlord to make your apartment habitable. If you proceed without the evidence proving what is wrong then you are asking the Board to take your word for there being a problem. Proceeding in this way is much riskier and you may not be able to discharge the burden of proof (you must prove on a balance of probabilities as you are the applicant).

      Good luck

      Michael K. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  21. Hi Michael,

    I live in Kingston for school and units in my apartment were recenetly affected by bed bugs. The landlord gave notice that their technician would come and put dust in the outlets as a preventative measure. However, they 1. delayed the treatment to several days after notifying me, 2. they did not treat the baseboards or the hallways (carpet) and 3. upon finding a bed bug (a week or so after the so called treatment) the super refused to come inspect and follow up when I notified them and told me over the phone I would have to wait a week for pest control. I called head office and the property manager came to confirm that the bug I caught was a bed bug and then did not follow up regarding treatment. At my own expense we have laundered and sealed the clothes I brought back to my home in Ottawa as well as tossed out sealed items. As the apartment is not habitable, I am now having to commute to Kingston for a few days for the next 5 weeks for my course and will have to stay somewhere else. (My lease is up at the end of June but I am effectively not living there for the rest of the lease.)
    My questions are would I have grounds for damages due to negligence and do you know of anyone I could speak to regarding this? Also, is there a period of time in Ontario for "reasonable" action to be taken on rental company's part? In addition, since they are aware that others are also affected and they are delaying taking action for treatment are there legal ramifications?
    I have proof of correspondence of my concerns via email and call logs between the superintendent and the property manager.

    Thank you

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    1. Hi: Bedbugs are a significant problem. Treatment is slow and after the initial treatment time is required to pass before further treatment is undertaken. Did your landlord act quickly enough? The answer depends on the circumstances and "why" it took as long as it did. If your landlord hired the only professional pest control company and said I need you here as soon as possible and the company responded by saying we're maxed out dealing with a massive bedbug infestation then the landlord might be excused by the passage of a few days. It is all context.

      Bed bug infestations, vis a vis landlord, are unlikely to be the result of the landlord's negligence. The infestation is likely from a tenant bringing in some item that was infested and it spread from there. A landlord can become liable for the presence of bed-bugs by failing to maintain the rental unit in a state that is "fit for habitation" (a statutory obligation). Often enough, there are contractual obligations as well and certainly a covenant for quiet enjoyment is at least implied in every residential lease. Breaches of lease terms and statutory requirements can lead to claims for rent abatement, termination, and other remedies under the RTA (see. the T2 and T6 applications on the Landlord and Tenant Board website).

      There is nothing automatic about an entitlement to damages for not being able to use the rental unit. Certainly , if you can establish that the unit is not fit for habitation and that you can not live there during the treatment then a complete rent abatement is possible. However, don't assume that just because there are bugs that the unit will automatically be considered "uninhabitable". It would be an interesting question for a professional pest control technician.

      As for speaking with someone. The last I heard there was a former adjudicator from what is now the Landlord and Tenant Board practicing in Kingston. Some google searches should let you find him. If not, email me privately and I will send you his name. If he can't help you he may be able to refer you to someone in Kingston who can.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  22. Hi Michael
    One of the tenants in the building said they found a bed bug. We had someone come out and confirm it was and had them inspect all units. The unit above the tenant in question was horrible the parents bed. We had that unit fully treated and the tenants in question. This tenant in question then refused to pay rent and claimed damage to her unit from the pest control. The pest control came back and re inspected after the 14 days and all was clear. Then after we request rent the tenant claims that she is being bit again and can't go to work. Takes pictures of these bites. We call the pest guy back he found one on her couch and found it odd that he found it. He checked the unit and re did a boundary spray. The tenant said she couldn't live there. Then gave us an ultimatum that we give back her last mth rent plus damages to her or she will get a lawyer. We requested rent again and she is not even staying at the unit. Then last week the pest guy calls and said she had called him and wanted him to inspect her unit so she could move out. We told him we are not covering this. Now we got served to go to the board. By the way the infested unit was cleared and the other 4 units had nothing but we still paid for a boundary spray. I know the tenant can not hold back rent, any advice on this?

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    1. Hi: You don't say whether the tenant is on a fixed term lease or a month to month lease. If on a month to month the tenant can give 60 days notice to the end of term and move out. If on a fixed term the tenant can not technically terminate and move out under the end of term. If she is on a fixed term do you want to keep her to it? If it's month to month then she can legally get out on 60 days notice whether you want that or not.

      You don't say what kind of application the tenant filed nor the relief that she is seeking. Presumably it has something to do with the bedbugs and she wants a rent abatement, damages, possibly termination of the tenancy? Are you content to let her go?

      One approach to this is to serve the tenant with a valid N4 to terminate the tenancy for non-payment of rent. Wait the 14 days and then file the L1 application to get an eviction and Order for the rent arrears. If the tenant has limited assets and you're not confident that you will ever see the money this is the way to go.

      However, if you don't want to let the tenant go and the tenant has assets or a good job and you know that you can get the money if you get a judgment consider filing an L9 application against the tenant. This application is for rent arrears but NOT for termination. There is no N4 (Notice of Termination) for this application. You would end up with a money Judgment to enforce through garnishment etc.. You could never evict the tenant for the rent arrears found to be owing on the L9 application--which shouldn't be a problem if the tenant has assets and you can enforce collection.

      Going the L9 route may be worthwhile as you can issue that application very quickly with the only condition being that the tenant be in possession of the rental unit. If you have an upcoming hearing on the tenant application and there isn't enough time to serve the N4 and wait the 14 days this might be the ideal way to get your claim for the rent arrears heard. Certainly, if the tenant is seeking termination of her tenancy in her application, and you are fine with her terminating her tenancy, you could proceed with your L9 and make the hearing of the L9 conditionally on the Board agreeing to terminate the tenancy in accordance with the tenant's application and giving you enforcement rights (i.e. file the Order with the Sheriff) under the tenant application. That way, the tenancy is terminated, you can force her out if she doesn't move and through your own L9 application you have a money judgment for the rent arrears.

      Delete

    2. With respect to the tenant's application related to the bed-bugs. There are exceptional cases all around and there isn't one pat answer. However, one can generalize and the more average your case is the more likely it is that this is the outcome. It is well understood that there is a bed bug epidemic in the province and generally in North America. Since we stopped using certain pesticides there is nothing that kills bed bugs as effectively. The treatments today take longer and are not as aggressive or thorough as when other pesticides were used. Accordingly, bed-bugs are a scourge that has come back and through choices in relation to the use of pesticides one could say that society has chosen to deal with the bed-bug over the chemicals once used to eradicate them.

      Bed-bugs in most circumstances are not the landlord's fault. The bugs come in through various means and can be transported on people, in luggage, on furniture, on pets, etc.. The landlord's responsibility is to deal with a bed-bug infestation once made aware of the problem. The problem should be dealt with diligently by hiring the services of a professional and licenced pest control company and following the recommended course of action (presuming that is an industry standard recommended course of action). If a landlord does this, and follows up properly, then it is unlikely that any tenant will get a rent abatement or even termination of the tenancy. The mere presence of a pest is not going to be enough to terminate a lease. A landlord's failure to respond properly to a pest problem may result in rent abatements, termination of a tenancy, and other damages, but generally speaking a landlord who responds promptly will not have any order made against them.

      The argument sometimes made by tenants is that a landlord contracts with a tenant to give them quiet enjoyment of the premises and that the premises provided are fit for habitation and that the units meet health and safety standards. The argument is that regardless of how the bed bug got in the unit, the landlord is in breach of its obligations. The obligation to provide a rental unit that meets a certain standard is not subject to a negligence test or failure to respond promptly to a complaint about bugs. The argument is that the obligation exists without exception or caveat and that the presence of a bed bug puts the landlord in breach for which damages need be paid. If the breach is serious enough, it could be grounds to terminate the tenancy.

      This argument, in my experience, does not find the favour with the Board that it once found in the Courts. There was a time that the Court's interpreted the law in such a way that the landlord effectively had to guarantee continuous quiet enjoyment and fulfillment of providing a unit that met all statutory conditions failing which (for any reason at all and without fault) the landlord could be ordered to provide the tenant an abatement.

      My experience is that the law has moved away from imposing such a strict obligation on the landlord. Now, it is more likely that a landlord will not be ordered to pay anything if the response to a bed bug infestation is dealt with promptly and professionally. It is now implied that bed bug infestations happen, they are unavoidable and simply a part of life. So long as the infestation is dealt with promptly and properly it is considered unfair to impose the consequence of bed bug infestations entirely on landlords (i.e. pay for the treatment, and give rent money back or other damgaes to affected tenants.).

      Hope that helps

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  23. Hi Michael,

    so glad to see all these responses and questions.

    I moved into my apartment near Carlingwood in the winter. 1 year lease. At the end of May we had a preventative treatment, and a week later I started to find bedbugs. A week after I found and reported it, we finally got a treatment in mine and the surrounding apartments -- I know this wasn't just my problem as I saw multiple people throwing out pillows and suitcases the days leading up to the treatment. The instructions from the rental company and the exterminators weren't very clear or informative, and speaking to the admin office was less than helpful. They didn't tell people to inspect items as they came in and out of the bags, or how long they should be staying sealed in bags. There was also nothing preventing/warning garbage pickers from taking items that were being thrown out.
    After doing some research, I found out that the first set of preventative treatments were being done almost a month before they did my apartment. I've now had one preventative treatment and then an actual treatment of the apartment. We just had an inspection and now they are going to be doing the entire wing of the building from the top down. I'm now taking medication and seeing a doctor to help with my stress from the situation, and throwing out so many of my belongings. I realize that my chances of getting any kind of compensation back from the rental agency for the tonne of money I've spent on this with the botched treatments and having to be out multiple times and getting my pet in/out and, but what are the chances of getting my landlord to terminate my lease early? I still have 5 months left on the lease, but I don't feel comfortable coming home or sleeping here, I work from home and working while I'm home is proving difficult because of the anxiety I get being here. I've spoken to other tenants and I'm not the only person in this boat, they're all over the building.

    Is there any hope for me of getting out of here without me losing an arm and a leg, seeing as there was a full month that passed before I even got treated and the process is being started from scratch a month after my first treatment??

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    1. Hi:

      If you are convinced that you need to move out of the building and are in a position to do so, then my first suggestion would be to approach the landlord (someone with authority) with a Form N11 in hand. The N11 is an Agreement to Terminate Form. You can have it filled out an ready for the landlord's signature (have two copies). Be ready to explain to the landlord what you have lost as a result of the bedbug infestation problem--point form notes are handy. Then explain that you think the landlord botched the treatment process thereby exacerbating the effects of the infestation thereby causing you to lose a lot of time, property, and money. Be prepared to discuss whether you will waive all claims for damages in exchange for the landlord signing off on the Form N11 (i.e. let me out of the lease and I won't sue or take you to the Board).

      If that conversation goes well and the landlord understands your position then hopefully you will walk away with a signed Agreement to Terminate and life goes on. If the landlord is not willing to let you out, then you may consider filing a T2 & T6 application--seeking a rent abatement, the various orders permitted under the applications, and termination of the tenancy. Will you get Termination at the Board? I think the argument is a "fit for habitation" argument--meaning the landlord failed to provide you with an apartment that is fit for habitation AND failed to take reasonable steps to make the unit fit for habitation in a timely manner. If you can point to a failure on the landlord's part in dealing with the infestation your chance for winning termination will be stronger. If the evidence doesn't get you termination it should at least get you a rent abatement that other's in the building might also want to apply for if you are successful. You mention two things about the landlord's plan that seem problematic to me. The spraying, preventative and otherwise, do not seem to be well planned. From how you describe it, it sounds like earlier preventative spraying actually drove the bugs to your unit. While it would take some work, you may wish to consult a pest control expert to ask whether the landlord's plan was reasonable and proper. The second thing you mention is that garbage pickers were not discouraged from bringing potentially infested items back into the building. I think this is a failing on the part of the landlord as a fairly standard protocol today is to instruct tenants---who are throwing out infested items--to destroy the item or damage it in such a way that the item will not be picked up by people going through the garbage.

      If you are able to demonstrate that the landlord breached its obligations to provide a rental unit that is fit for habitation then it is likely that you would win termination of the tenancy. The burden of proof rests on you and there will be a fair amount of work in proving your application. However, in a job well done, with the risks of the application being apparent to the landlord, you might find that the landlord is willing to mediate a resolution in preference to letting the matter be decided by an adjudicator. A landlord will think about the risk that your properly done application might be copied by other tenants who will also look for rent abatements etc..

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    2. Thank you for the information Michael, very helpful and brings me some great peace of mind.

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    3. Hi Michael, I received a reply to a letter I sent to the landlord, asking for more information, especially why the exterminator didn't find any bedbugs when he first did a preventative which was supposed to include an inspection of the bed. The exterminator had told me when he did the actual treatment, that I had them for at least 2-3 months and that he didn't really look before because I said I hadn't noticed any problems (this is true, I did say this but this was also before I was educated more). The response from the landlord was that he didn't find them because they weren't there before, and they're trying to blame other units for not reporting it. This sounds like they're trying to cover their asses to me?

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  24. Hi Michael I live in Brampton ont I called my landlord about 2 months ago telling him I found weird bugs and my kids where getting bitten and asked him to come look he never did I only found a few then a few more weeks went by I found more and again I told him and freaked. I also have someone living in the basement we have shared laundry room in basement (I don't use the washer nor dryer anymore I bought my own and use them in my kitchen since that day) when I went down I notice his couch was covered in the same bugs so I ask a friend and they said it was bedbugs ( I have never seen these bugs before in my life) so again I asked my landlord to come look and told him it was budbugs and again nothing. The person in my basement haven't been home in 5 weeks ospca had to be called a week ago and had to come remove 2 very sick dogs last week as per court orders finally landlord cleaned the basement but still haven't got the bugs cleaned up. Animal control said bugs are coming from the basement and landlord still nothing what can I do as I have 3 kids under 13 that are being bitten like crazy and bugs are more since basement cstuff got emptyed ( all the stuff from basement had to go out my main door and now we are seeing the bugs In daylight. What can I do please help.

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    1. Hi: Your apartment and the entire building is clearly in need of professional pest control on an urgent basis. Your landlord's inaction is utterly unacceptable. How to proceed depends in part on what kind of financial resources you have and what kind of risks you are willing to take. The "proper" answer, meaning the one that the LTB would give you if you call the 1-888 number, is that you can immediately file a T2 and a T6 application with the LTB. The T2 is a tenant's rights application and the T6 is a maintenance application (T stands for tenant, and the number is just the number of the form). Tell your story in the applications and request a rent abatement, an order requiring the landlord to get professional pest control, etc.. The Board will schedule a hearing and in a few weeks you can be heard. In the mean time make sure to document your complaints to the landlord--write, text, fax, him often about the problem. Take photographs of the bugs and the locations you see them in. Take the kids and yourself to the doctor and get medical notes confirming what the bites are (and make sure no infections from the bites). Also, you can call the City of Brampton and the Property Standards Division. Advise them that you have a bedbug problem with a landlord who is unwilling to do anything about it. See if they will help you. They may refer you to the health unit.

      The evidence you collect through pictures, medical reports, letters to landlord proving you gave notice of the problem and anything the City does for you will allow the Board to make Orders to deal with the problem.

      The problem with the "proper" approach of course is that it takes time. In the face of being bitten regularly time is not a luxury that you have. More aggressive responses (meaning they come with some risk), include simply terminating the tenancy, moving out to a new place, disposing of infested personal property and either suing the landlord or taking him to the LTB for not providing residential premises that are fit for habitation. It is very important to collect strong evidence of infestation and proof that you complained to the landlord with no response. What you are basically doing is breaking your lease and refusing to live in the premises. Obviously, this is only an option if you are okay with moving.

      Another more aggressive way of dealing with this is to write the landlord and tell him that unless you see a professional pest control company on the doorstep in the next 24 hours that you are going to hire one yourself, have the premises treated, and that you are going to deduct the cost from the rent. When he tries to evict you for non-payment of rent you will defend on the basis that he was in breach of his duties and that you want the Board to authorize the work that you did. This is an aggressive position but it should work and usually does. However, any strategy that is anything but the first "proper" response brings some risk of the Board not seeing it your way or not agreeing with your self help approach to dealing with the problem. How serious this is really depends on your financial flexibility.

      Ideally, you hire a lawyer or paralegal who is very familiar with LTB issues. Let that person guide you and follow that advice as it is likely to be an objective view of the situation. If money is a big obstacle then consider your local community legal clinics. I'm not sure how good service is in Brampton but if they have Landlord Tenant services then it will be free for you if you qualify.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  25. Thank you so much for all the info I will keep you post on how everything works out for me and my family

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  26. Hi Michael,

    I live in Ottawa, and have been renting a townhouse for several years, and discovered bedbugs in my room in January of this year. My Landlord has flat-out insisted that treatment of bedbugs is not his responsibility. I plan to respond to him, citing the RTA and relevant court orders (as well as this webpage), but I'm wondering if I did submit an order through the LTB, whether he'd have any likeliness of winning. I'm not sure when I first got them, but when I noticed them in January I promptly called him to let him know, and ask about getting rid of them. (I suspect I may have gotten them as far back as August last year, when I travelled to Montreal for a weekend - there's no way to be sure since I only discovered the infestation in January though.) When he refused to pay for pest control, I decided to try to tackle it on my own, and have been steaming/heat treating everything, etc, ever since. (5-6 months)

    Needless to say, it's been ridiculously stressful and I haven't been sleeping well for the past few months, but treatment of the entire unit (which is really large) would be too expensive for me, especially with follow up visits.

    Finally I decided enough was enough, and did my research over the last two days. Does it sound like anything in this scenario would protect him, or can I be fairly certain that an application to the LTB would succeed?

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    Replies
    1. On further thought, I will probably not cite this webpage, but will stick to court orders and legislation..

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  27. Hi,
    We moved out from a bed-bug infested building 2 months ago after 8 months with no signs of infection. We moved into a rented house, thinking we were clear but just found a bug the other day. We assume it came to us from the old building, but who can say really? We told the landlord and his plan is to come over and give us "some medicine" (his words) for the problem. After reading through the previous posts (very informative!) it seems I have no leverage to demand he use a professional. I really would like to have a professional heat treatment done so that our furniture and his property get equally treated. I think this will be best for both of us. The pest control company I contacted provides a 100% guarantee their treatment works. Therefore any subsequent treatments are free. They quoted me $1600. I could cover the whole cost myself, but I feel the landlord should contribute some to this, as it is treating his property as well. What's the best way to convince him to share this cost with me? Are there any legal arguments I can use to convince him that spraying "medicine" will only result in more cost and continued infection later?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi: A landlord is taking a very big risk if they do not use a professional pest control company. Certainly, a landlord has a duty to maintain the premises including pest control. How that is done is within the broad discretion of the landlord. However, if a landlord adopts a process that is ineffective and the tenant continues to suffer for much longer than is reasonable or necessary then the landlord may expect an application to the Board and for a tenant to win at least a rent abatement and perhaps other remedies. A landlord, by using a credible professional pest control company and following the recommended treatment is unlikely to be accused of failing to meet their obligation under the RTA.

      As between specific methods of treatment I think the bias of choice favours the landlord. Heat treatment is an option but other choices are cheaper and also considered as a reasonable method of treating bedbugs.

      I think you might negotiate with your landlord respecting your preferred method of treatment. If you will pay something then perhaps you cover the difference between chemical treatment and the heat treatment cost. Doing so is a bit unorthodox but I don't see a problem with it. However, if your landlord's idea of treatment is to give you a coupon for a can of Raid then obviously you have a problem. Document your landlord's position and get him to confirm what he is prepared to do or not to do. Depending on your financial circumstances (i.e. if you can afford to not recover the money), you might decide to use the landlord's unwillingness to treat professionally as a basis to hire the company you want and then take the landlord to the Board on a T6 application. The safer route is to do the T6 before the treatment and look for authorization from the Board for you to hire and get the treatment done and deduct the cost from future rents.

      So, how do you convince your landlord? In my experience, cheap is cheap, and no amount of explaining is going to convince a landlord to hire a professional when a can of powder from Canadian Tire only costs a pittance in comparison. Have the conversation and then consider an application to the Board first, or do the treatment and gamble that the Board will authorize the steps you took and order the landlord to pay for it.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    2. Thank you for the great information. We had a conversation with the landlord and at the time he agreed with us that we could never know the exact source of the infestation and that we needed to pursue some kind of professional treatment. I outlined my case for heat treatment and we discussed the cost of various measures. He was upset at having to spend any money, but he seemed convinced that he would need to do something. I told him we would be more than happy to cover the difference between chemical and heat treatment. He said he would need some time to think about it and he would get back to me. I gave him the information of the professional company I spoke to and told him to contact them if he has questions. I thought it went well.

      Flash forward one week with no word. Today we get a text message saying he thinks we brought it ourselves because we are "dirty" (I was so offended! we are very clean). He refuses to pay for anything as he says it is all our fault. Typical. I reminded him that the law states he is responsible for extermination as it is near impossible to prove the source of the infection. I also told him that we may be forced to get the treatment and he might then have to reimburse us. He said he didn't know what to say. My approach will be to offer him a choice: we divide up the cost of the heat treatment or we seek permission from the board to proceed without him then ask him for full reimbursement (via rent reduction). Does this sound like a reasonable plan?

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  28. Hi Michael, My husband and I just co-signed a one year lease for an apartment for our daughter located near Carlingwood in Ottawa...which might very well be the same place as Anonymous June 22/2015 post. Obviously we did not know there were bedbugs in the building when we signed the lease. She has not moved in yet....can we get out of the lease? Is the landlord not required to let us know of the problem?

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  29. Hi , I'm from Hamilton and I'm in need of any help you may give regarding a issue with living with bedbugs .
    Landlord has told me that Ihave to wait for a week and a half because the exterminator said he couldn't go in and spray rightaway as it was sprayed in june on the 16th no follow up spray occured. And here we are in AUGisnt it illegal to be renting a apt that is classified as unhabitable?I fell my rights are being violated as no human being should have to endure this quality of life thank you soo much for this blog and your continued effort to give up your spare time to help us lil guys...you have no idea how much that means to me and I'm sure countless of others!!!

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  30. Hi some great advice here ...
    I have a nightmare of a problem with cockroaches..
    I am in Toronto and the property manager doesn't do yearly spraying. The past month or so we have become infested. The unit across from us was sprayed and two weeks later the unit underneath us moved out and they were sprayed. I was told by the superintendent that the unit under us was infested. Sure enough now we are . we have diamataoueceous earth all over our apartment along with traps and spray that we have used since moving in 4 years ago.
    We put in a request to be sprayed and they did do it but I received a knock on the door from the property manager saying we may have to move to another unit and to come to the office to speak with him. Upon arriving in the office he tells me that my place is so infested I have to throw everything out or .move out of the building . I tried telling him that it's from the other apartments but he became defensive, and blaming me . he is saying I should get rid of my dog because the dog is attracting the roaches. I don't have the money to move or to replace all of my furniture . the place us falling apart .we had a flood in 2011 and the florrs are severely damaged . a wall fell down in 2012/due to mold after they rufesed to fixed the problem , once it fell down they just covered with drywall.I am at my wits end with this place. I don't know what to do. Other tenants are saying the whole building is full of roaches . is there anything I can do ?? I am having the place sprayed again in two weeks . but he wants me. To throw the majority of my things away.. And bag. Everything I plan to keep.

    Can I get any financial reimbursement for the hell we've goon through thus far with this roach motel?
    Any advice is appreciated .

    Thanks ! One stressed Mama!

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    1. Hi One Stressed Mama: It is strange to be told to throw out personal possessions because of a cockroach infestation. For bedbugs yes---that is common in my experience. Cockroaches not really. If you have had a professional pest control company at your place it would be worthwhile to talk with the exterminator and ask him what he thinks and why. Perhaps the issue is that there are a great many cockroaches in the place and you have to much stuff to be able to property spray and bait. Perhaps what the landlord was getting at is that it would be a lot easier to treat your unit if it had less stuff in it? I can understand that argument but that is not grounds to ask a tenant to simply dispose of their property.

      Your description of your unit and the complex begs for a property standards inspection and order for repair. Call the city and ask them to come and take a look. Beware that if the required repairs are so extensive that they require vacant possession and a building permit that the landlord can give you a 120 notice of termination. If the City makes an Order to repair there is no compensation. However, you would have the right to move back in after the work is done.

      You would benefit from going to a legal clinic and showing them your paperwork, lease, and photographs and they could help you map out a plan of how to get your apartment into decent shape. Alternatively, they could also show you how to get a sizeable rent abatement for what you are dealing with that you might be able to use towards a new apartment.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  31. I live in an apartment that is currently being treated for bed bugs. I believe that in the beginning the treatments were not done properly and may be the same as Anonymous from June 22nd. My question is, if I choose to stay and, after several treatments, am advised that furniture must be disposed of, who is responsible for the cost of replacement? I also was treated in May for a preventative treatment, then began to get bitten quite badly shortly thereafter.

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    1. Hi: Generally speaking the tenant bears the losses associated with infestations. The landlord has an obligation to treat the premises and it is generally accepted that the tenant has an obligation to make the premises ready for treatment. You can find a few outlier cases suggesting that a landlord has to prep the unit for the tenant etc.. The norm, though, is that landlords pay for treatment and tenants bear the cost for preparation. If items need to be thrown away that too is a loss that the tenant suffers without compensation (as a general proposition). If you can demonstrate that the loss arises from a failed treatment process (i.e. done improperly) that makes the claim stronger.

      It is not impossible to construct an argument for damages based on contract and you certainly can find caselaw that supports such a claim. However, that law is older and the law now seems focused on landlords treating promptly and professionally to avoid any liability to the tenant. There was a time when the breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment led almost automatically to damages. That argument today could include the landlord breaching the obligation to provide a unit that is fit for habitation. Where that breach causes the loss of property the argument is that the landlord is liable for it. The logic of the argument works but I see the Board approaching landlord breaches of various covenants (i.e. quiet enjoyment, fit for habitation) from a negligence perspective as opposed to a contractual one. Hence, if the landlord is not viewed as negligent then there is no liability.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  32. Thank you for the prompt reply. Ultimately what I expected, but still disappointing. In this case I don't think it was a case of improper treatment so much as I don't believe the landlord originally followed the recommendations of the pest control company to the letter. By taking some shortcuts it allowed the infestation to spread farther before it was taken seriously by a more senior management individual. The problem began three floors below me, so it is frustrating that it wasn't contained much sooner.

    Again, thank you for the prompt reply. Much appreciated.

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  33. In Ottawa, is it legal for a Landlord to force you to allow them to steam your mattress? There is a pest problem in the building (100+ apts). When I moved in I completely sealed every nook and cranny, I had no problems for 8 months, I know because I have sticky traps everywhere. then they baited my apt and suprise bug in my sticky traps 3 days later. Now they want to completely clean, spray and even steam our mattress. The mattress is thing is going to far. Do I have to comply?

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    1. Hi:

      You are very fortunate to have a landlord who is following such a protocol--it will be an expensive one for sure. A great many landlords would not bother with steaming tenant mattresses even though bedbugs can be in a mattress. I'm presuming that the treatment is by a professional company and that they will take steps to do this work hygienically and be clear about preparation. I would expect them to be prepared to answer your reasonable questions about the process. If a pest control expert has advised the landlord that this level of treatment is required to get the infestation under control then in my opinion you need to comply barring any serious basis for objection (just not wanting to let them do it is not enough). Heat kills bedbugs which is why they are likely steaming mattresses.

      If you do not comply, I would not be surprised if you received a Notice of Termination in Form N5 for interfering with the landlords maintenance of the building--i.e. pest control.

      Sorry that the answer isn't what you were looking for but I think the Landlord and Tenant Board would side with your landlord on this one.

      Good luck
      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  34. Can a landlord ask you to sign a waiver, when you give your notice, telling you that you will be responsible for bringing any future infestation of bed bugs to a new building (under the same management company), and also acknowledging that you are responsible for costs should a future tenant in your current unit have problems? This sounds like complete insanity to me. This sounds like a proposal completely outside of the law to me, especially in light of the fact that they are telling you your unit is "pest free". Please adivse. Thanks!

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    1. Hi: I'd like to see this waiver to review exactly what the landlord is trying to do. I don't see the basis for liability in your current unit and I can't imagine any circumstance in which the landlord could win this argument. The idea that you might be liable for an infestation of a new unit--because it is known that you have a current infestation--is an interesting thought. If an infestation in the new unit is closely linked in time to you moving in then the landlord may be able to prove that you are the source of the infestation--leading perhaps to an argument of wilful or negligent damage for which you can be liable. I don't think that the liability would flow from the waiver--but instead from the ability to prove that you are the source of the bedbugs.

      Good luck.

      Michael K.E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  35. Here's my dilemma. There are no bedbugs in my apartment (I know the signs). The landlord placed a notice in my door that another unit in the building has an infestation, and they wish to spray my unit as preventative action. The notice was delivered in the evening, effectively giving me four days to prepare. I have a strong dermatological sensitivity to and olfactory sensitivity to chemicals - the paper says it suggests 24 hours for sensitive and pregnant blah blah blah.

    I have a bad back, heavy furniture, a vast collection of books, and small caged (sensitive) pets. I have no-where to stay for 24 hours. I have no where to place my pets for 24 hours.

    Four days does not seem like sufficient notice to me for such a daunting task. I do not have people to turn to for help. I cannot find out what the law considers "sufficient notice" to prepare for such an invasion of peace and privacy. So what does sufficient notice usually mean?

    (Ps - it's one of those huge Mc-Rental properties with about 160 units)

    Thanks, Much appreciated.

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    1. Hi:

      Thank you for this question. Your dilemma is not entirely uncommon. Typically, in situations where pest treatment is required, the landlord retains a professional pest control company. The company coordinates with the management for a time to do treatments based on an assessment of what is required to deal with a particular type of infestation. There is very little consultation with tenants (typically). Often, the first thing that tenant's get is a notice in their mailbox advising that pest treatments will be done on a particular date. Notice can be as little as 24 hours in advance but generally is a bit longer given that no one would be ready for treatment on 24 hours notice. That being said, 24 hours is the legal minimum. Along with a notice of entry for the purpose of pest treatment, tenants are often provided a Unit Preparation Checklist. That checklist will contain instructions which tend to vary depending on the kind of pest being treated. For bedbugs the typical list has the tenant washing all clothing, fabrics, bedding, in hot water and bagging them. Then tenants are asked to move all furniture off of the walls to grant access to the baseboards around the entire unit. There are additional and other instructions depending on the treatment and intentions of the pest control company.

      The unit preparation sheets, as you can see, set out a lengthy list of instructions. To follow the instruction is time consuming and expensive. A failure to comply with the instructions sometimes results in some landlords serving a Notice of Termination or threatening to serve a Notice of Termination. For tenants who are unable to comply with the unit preparation sheets the pest control contractor will enter the unit in accordance with the notice, determine that the unit has not been prepped, and then leave. The pest control company will report to the landlord that certain treatments were completed and that some units were not treated due to a lack of cooperation by the tenant. How landlord's react to this information is different depending on who the landlord is and what their policies are. As you may imagine, the range of responses that tenants get is quite broad---from threats to evict to inquiries of what can be done to help. Ultimately, though, a great many landlords tend to get out the stick and threaten eviction and claims for costs of increased treatment costs and wasted appointments. The situation can get tense.

      The ideal response, which is what you are looking for, would be something like this. Realizing that you are unable to prepare in time and that you are unlikely to prepare at all given your personal circumstances, you attend at the office and lay out the problems you are having. You indicate that you suffer from disabilities, that you have health sensitivities and presumably from your comment I infer that you have limited funds and staying in a hotel is not an option(?). The issue with your pets perhaps raises questions that need a consultation with the pest control expert and your veterinarian to determine what is safe and what is needed. Is it imperative that the pets be taken out of the unit or is it safe for them stay? That question needs to be answered by an expert that you are comfortable with. I imagine that would be your vet and I presume that your vet would need to know the exact chemicals being used and how they are being put into the unit (in the air, gel, powder, etc.).

      You should set out all of these issues, in writing, and then attend the office to speak with the property manager. Ask for help for all of the issues and be prepared to offer solutions that do result in your rental unit being treated by the pest control company. For example, you could ask for the following.

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    2. If you are on a seriously tight budget and can prove it--meaning the cost of compliance is impossible for you. You could ask the landlord to provide you with laundry washing cards (i.e. pay for the laundry cost). You could ask the landlord to provide bags for bagging items. You can ask the landlord to provide you with some strong people to come an move the furniture under your direction after you have moved and tidied those things that you are capable of moving and tidying. After, consulting with your own doctor about the possible affects of exposure to the pest control chemicals, and after providing the landlord with satisfactory evidence of your dermatological sensitivities and your doctor's opinion that you shouldn't be in the unit for X days after treatment (if that is the opinion) then ask the landlord to put you up in a reasonably priced hotel for the required period of time. Link the need for the hotel to your medical conditions and the fact that treatment of the unit is only possible if you are out given the health risks to you specifically. Propose a solution for your pets, if after the pest control company provides written confirmation of the nature of the chemicals to be used, their own opinion whether the pets need to be removed, and your vet gives you and opinion about what is needed for the pets to come safely through the treatment. If that means putting the pets with a kennel equivalent for birds, ferrets or whatever is in the cages then so be it. If transferring to another room in the building is possible (can you be given a locked common room for a day or two for the pets?), perhaps you suggest that.

      The point is that you clearly identify the exact problems and communicate them clearly to the landlord and offer to provide medical records, notes, reports, as needed to establish the legitimacy of the problem. Then ask for the information you need to formulate a position that will allow the intended treatment to proceed. Then ask for the help you need--payment, space, time, labour, to get ready for the treatment.

      At this point you're thinking that I live in a fantasy world and that you've written to a lunatic on the internet. While that may be true, there is a method to this madness and a legal reason for doing this.

      The foregoing suggestion is the framework needed to set up a defence to any application to the Landlord and Tenant Board to evict you and it is the framework required for a complaint to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal and/or an argument for relief in the landlord's Landlord and Tenant Board application against you under section 83 (discretionary powers section) incorporating human rights arguments.


      What I have set out here is effectively your request for accommodation on the basis of disability as mandated to be provided under the Ontario Human Rights Code. All of the things I set out above--from laundry cards, to labour to move things, a hotel---all of these things are reasonable things to ask for and can be ordered to be provided to you by the landlord. Of course, context and specific facts are everything. If you are a very wealthy individual with significant resources and can solve all of these problems by writing a cheque then you are just being difficult and the suggested approach is unlikely to work for you. However, and as I suspect is the case, the required compliance presents a real and significant hardship for you, financially, physically and perhaps psychologically. In this instance, and because the hardship is occasioned by disability, the landlord has a duty to accommodate you.

      The duty to accommodate is an obligation imposed by law. That law is the Ontario Human Rights Code. The Residential Tenancies Act provides that the Ontario Human Rights Code takes precedence over provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act. This makes the OHRC a very powerful law.

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    3. A landlord's duty to accommodate is only limited by a notion referred to as "undue hardship". A landlord must accommodate a person with a disability up to the point of undue hardship. What constitutes "undue hardship" will be different for every landlord. In your situation, living in a Mc-Rental (love that phrase), might be a tremendous advantage. If your landlord is a big corporation the accommodation that you are requesting represents a financial drop in the ocean and the landlord likely has on staff workers who could provide the about you need. The landlord, if sizeable, may have a temporary unit for you, may have other space that your pets could stay a night or two, the point is that your landlord has significant resources and is in a position to accommodate your needs. It doesn't matter that accommodating you will cost the landlord money--that is perhaps "some" hardship for your landlord but it is hardly "undue" hardship.

      How your landlord responds to your positions depends on how in tune with its obligations the landlord is. I would expect a big Mc-Landlord to have professional property managers and a legal department that would know the obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act and the Human Rights Code. Granted, some landlords try to avoid the costs of compliance. However, if your landlord is a good landlord then they will play ball with you.

      The key and a VERY IMPORTANT in all of this is that you need to ask for help, accommodation, and you need to document that request. You need to be forthcoming about medical and physical disabilities and be willing to share that information to trigger the landlord's duty to accommodate. Once you do that, it is my experience that the tide turns to your favour.

      This is a rather long response and it describes only one path that could flow from your fact scenario. There are others of course, depending on how people react, depending on other treatment options, etc. etc. etc.. If you get any resistance from your landlord then I urge you to contact a lawyer, legal clinic, paralegal and get someone who is familiar with the Residential Tenancies Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code to help you. Having a representative involved who can respond to the changing positions and new facts will always be superior to this response (i.e. don't rely on this blog for legal advice).

      So you know, and I hope that everyone reading this answer understands, this answer is not about setting the landlord up for a claim. It is not a tactic or strategy to gain a legal advantage. It is simply the law and it is something that you can and should be utterly straightforward about. While I hope that you able to communicate clearly with your landlord about what the issues are, what you need etc., consider getting someone to help you communicate clearly with the landlord about your needs. Failing to deal with the problems squarely can result in expensive eviction proceedings that will feel utterly unfair.

      Good luck to you. If you are willing, I'd be pleased to hear the details of what happens and how your landlord reacts to your requests for assistance.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  36. Hi. I just wanted to say first off I'm glad to have found this blog post for the advice and comfort I am not the only one with the issues of bed bugs. I'm currently experiencing a major problem with an infestation and want to terminate my lease and wondering what I should do. The rental company did attempt to exterminate the bugs in a decently timely manner (about 5-7 days) however the treatment was unsuccessful ad the first night afterwards I found live bugs on my pillow attempting to sleep. I know for a fact that they did not cover the surrounding units and I was, in my opinion extremely precautious and well prepared for the treatment. I had all of my clothes washed properly and dried on high temperature sealed in bags, not even in the apartment. I was wondering if at all possible for there a way to go about being removed from lease as the stress and anxiety caused by the Infestation is overwhelming. I barely get sleep cause I constantly find myself feeling as if though the bugs are crawling on me and it's effecting my work and school life as a result. Any sort of advice would be greatly appreciated as I am forced to move out, whether I can terminate the lease or not, but that is the ultimate goal. As well as the infested furniture if there is any compensation for these damages either through the rental Company or my tenant insurance.

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    1. Hi Logan: Bedbugs are an unfortunate reality these days. I often say it is a question of "when" and not "if" a tenant is going to experience a bedbug infestation. I think you would be hard pressed to find any sizeable apartment building in Ontario that hasn't had bedbug problems.

      Terminating a tenancy for a bedbug infestation is not something that I am seeing as a typical remedy at the Landlord and Tenant Board. The Board is often focused on ordering treatment and providing rent abatements for delayed treatment but termination for the fact of an infestation is not something that I see happening. That being said, I am aware of cases where the Board has terminated for an infestation the grounds being that the premises were not fit for habitation. The tenant in those cases was exceptionally disturbed by the infestation and it was clear that the tenant was unable to live in the unit. I think that this is an exception though to the Board normally awarding rent abatement and ordering treatments.

      You are in the fortunate position that you have decided to move and terminate your tenancy regardless. While the law doesn't necessarily favour a termination of your tenancy because of the bedbug infestation your decisiveness in approaching the problem is commendable. The trick now will be to determine the repercussions for terminating without notice. I do think you should consider getting some legal advice from an experienced lawyer or paralegal. Depending on the sophistication of your landlord you could assert a right to terminate on the basis that the unit was not fit for habitation due to the presence of bedbugs and the ineffective treatment used by the landlord's contractor. The legal position is not entirely without merit and perhaps with each party considering their respective positions you might end up with a deal that you find acceptable.

      With respect to infested furniture and property (don't forget that bedbugs love electronics too) I am unaware of any insurance that covers for this loss. The only successful case for infested property that I ever saw was a case where the tenant moved into a unit that the landlord knew was infested at the time that the tenant moved in. I haven't seen any cases where a tenant obtained compensation for property where the infestation occurred after the tenant moved in and treatment was started within a short time of notice of the infestation being given to the landlord.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  37. Good Morning,

    In my case the landlord set up treatment however I did not get the required 24 hour notice to enter and lets face it, 24 hours notice is not enough to pack up everything and have a unit ready. When the company did come to treat they couldn't effectively spray my apartment. (I had 9 hours to prepare in which I also had to feed my kids, help with homework and take my dogs out so 6 hours tops to pack up and move all my furniture myself...) The problem is that the landlord refused treatment and he lives directly below me. That is acutally where the infestation is located. I would like to hire my own company as the other one only sprays but Orkin will vacuum, steam, spray and attempt to seal from the apartment below. Is it legal for me to get my own treatment considering the lack of the treatment to the apartment below.. I AM willing to pay the $650.00 for the Orkin full treatment.

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    Replies
    1. Hi: If your only question is whether it is "legal" to hire a pest control company to treat your unit then I can say that there is nothing in the RTA that prevents you from doing so. From that perspective it certainly is legal. However, you will likely find in speaking with your own pest control company that the failure to properly treat an infestation, at the source, will only result in the bugs coming back on a recurring basis. A treatment in your unit will knock down the population but they will be back regardless of the "sealing" attempts between your respective units.

      It is a strange situation to have a landlord who refuses to have his own unit treated. If the landlord doesn't play ball you have a tough fight ahead to get to a spot where you can be confident that your own property doesn't have bugs in it.

      If you pay for your own treatment it will be difficult to get the landlord to pay for it. That may not be the end of the world if the problem is actually solved--but it won't be and hence your expense will ultimately feel like a waste of money.

      It would be worth it to force the landlord to treat his unit and to commence proceedings to get an Order requiring treatment and payment of it. Alternatively, you can get an order allowing you to deduct your treatments from rent. While the Board can't order the landlord to treat his own unit, the Board could order that you may deduct all expenses associated with bed bug treatment, on an indefinite basis, from your rent until such time as the landlord produces a report from a reputable company certifying that his unit is bedbug free. An order like this is more likely to get action from the landlord.

      I can't imagine that your relationship with your landlord is all that great. Perhaps you scope out a new place to live and get an order allowing all of your personal property to be treated for infestation, moving costs, and rent differential for a year, making the landlord pay for it all.

      The basis for seeking these orders is that the landlord has a duty to ensure that your unit is fit for habitation. By allowing an infestation to be present and by refusing to deal with the source of the infestation from his own unit he is breaching his obligation to provide you with a unit that is fit for habitation. That conduct gives the Board great leeway in fashioning an order that deals with your own circumstances and gives you some measure of justice.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  38. Hello Michael,

    I live in Ontario, and the apartment I live in has a horrible bed bug problem.
    In a 12 floor building at least half the building is empty. My floor alone has 10 units... only 3 are occupied.
    I have been living like I just moved in and most of my possessions and clothes bagged boxed sealed out on my balcony. My blind 9 year old dog and I are being bitten alive. I've had to take him to the vet to treat bites that he has scratched, chewed, and an infection set in. So he needed antibiotics and I'm in fear for his general health because he has no escape from it.I have a phobia of bugs and have had many sleepless nights. I am now on antianxiety medication because of this issue. As soon as I noticed I had this problem I reported it to my landlord. They have done 5 treatments to no improvement. Besides the biweekly misting of the edges of my unit nothing else is being done. I have told my landlord they are in the walls and drains but nothing further. I found a better apartment closer to work and family in a more upscale building. With better rent and no bed bug reports on line for that building. But it is for April 1st. That means I'm only giving 30 days notice. I typed out a letter to give my 30 days only to have it rejected by the management company. And told to honor the agreement of giving 60 days notice. I cannot afford to have both places and I do not want to be in this building any longer then I have to be. With my living situation am I with in my rights to leave?

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  39. Hi there

    I have just found bedbugs within the house I am renting. I messaged the landlord about it, and he said he can set something up as soon as I pay some outstanding rent. Is he in his legal rights to not take care of the problem if there is outstanding rent owed? I have been trying everything in my power to get the rent paid off but have hit a very rough spot in my life.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kas: The landlord's position is illegal. Has he confirmed this in an email or some other way that you can prove? It would be great evidence for an application to the Landlord and Tenant Board for a rent abatement. You should not be paying full rent in a unit that is infested with bedbugs where the landlord is refusing to take action to treat those bugs. With evidence of his refusal there is no doubt that you would get a rent abatement. To get the bed bugs treated you could apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for an order (use Form T6) and while there ask for a rent abatement (use Form T2). Alternatively, if you're not inclined to go to the Landlord and Tenant Board call property standards at you municipal government (City--I presume), and ask them to send an inspector to make an order because you have bedbugs that need treating. In some locales they will refer you to the health department and someone from there will come an make an order.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    2. Alright. After some very tiresome back and fourth messaging between my landlord, he hasaid finally agreed to spraying my house this coming Tuesday, the day I go and see my free legal clinic lawyer. I am just wondering if I should still fill out a T6 and a T2 form from the Landlord Tenet Board to get compensation. I did message him all the way back in November about getting bitten by some type of bug (unknown at the time) and he passed it off on the tenets of the house and tried to get us to take care of the problem. Also, I mentioned to the landlord that he should let the tenets beside us (conjoined duplex house) that he should be spraying their house also. Since we have bedbugs, they will most likely have them also.. Everything has been saved, we even have the dead bugs in a baggie to show who ever comes to the house. Thank you for all the advice

      Delete
    3. Hi Kasi: I can't really tell you whether you should or shouldn't proceed with a T6 and T2. There is nothing mandatory about it and if your problem is being "solved" then it all depends on what you are prepared to do. Filing applications, proceeding to a hearing, will be time consuming and likely a bit nerve racking. Whether you will win, or how much you will win is also an unknown. Also, taking your landlord to the Board is hardly likely to endear you to him. These considerations and others are up to you to weigh. Given that you have suffered for so long it certainly would not be unreasonable to proceed to the Board. Perhaps you can take advice from the clinic that you are going to and see what they recommend based on a review of your evidence.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  40. Hi Michael,

    I live in Halifax, NS, and I am aware you are specifically in Ontario, but I'm just hoping to get some advice if you can.

    When I viewed my apartment last summer, I asked the landlord about bed bugs and they told me everything had been cleaned up and renovated. They were new owners and they hadn't had a report in a very long time. I was getting a good deal, so I moved in on September 1st and went 5 or 6 months without beg bugs. However, a couple months ago I started getting bites and I reported it to my landlord right away. They were awesome about it, brought in pest control within a week and did a chemical treatment. They also gave me a $100 laundry card to cover those costs. Following the initial treatment, they did another treatment exactly 14 days later and I went a while without getting bites, but about 3 weeks to a month later I started getting bites again.

    Once again, I reported it to my landlord and right away they brought in pest control and did another chemical treatment plus gave me another $100 laundry card for those costs. However, I was still getting bites after this, so I met with my landlord to work something out and possibly talk about early termination.

    Finally, after some discussion, we decided to do a different type of treatment to see if that worked better (heat treatment) but I'm still getting bites 2 weeks from the treatment and found one on my wall just this morning.

    A few weeks ago, I had a doctor sign a form from the tenancy board in order for them to let me move out early and now I have to move out at the end of this month and will be losing all my furniture in the process.

    My question is- Is it too much to ask my landlord to reimburse me for my furniture? My landlord has been awesome about the situation and has tried everything to help me, but the treatments just don’t seem to be working. I came into this lease agreement with new furniture and expected to leave with all of my furniture. My apartment has basically been a storage room for my stuff since this infestation started as I don’t feel comfortable staying there and I have lost sleep. I work two jobs, including one in the evenings from home, and with having to prepare extensively for each of the treatments, I have missed work and missed out on pay. I cannot afford to lose all my furniture and start over. Any advice on what I could do?

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    1. Hi: I'm sorry to read about the details of your situation. It certainly is unfair. Unfortunately, and you nailed it at the beginning of your comment, I can only provide information and comments respecting Ontario law and tenancies in Ontario. The laws in Nova Scotia will be unique to Nova Scotia and you may very well have rights that are again unique to Nova Scotia. Try to find a lawyer or legal clinic locally that can answer your questions. I'm sorry that I can't help. I really don't know what the answers are for Nova Scotia.

      Good luck to you

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  41. First Michael, thank you for this blog. I am a landlord with only a couple of properties and the question of bedbugs is alway on my mind these days. I know my units are currently bedbug free but, as you know, that can change very quickly.

    My dilema is this: I have a new tenant moving in shortly who is coming from a high-rise apartment that is infested with bedbugs. Their current unit is undergoing a treatment process of some sort and will be completed shortly. I have confirmed this with the apartment management and my new tenants tell me that they are trashing all soft furniture including mattress, sofa, chairs, etc and their linens as well and starting new. They have told me that their clothes have been 'bagged' but I have to get some clarification on just what that means.

    My question is: If I get signed statements from my previous 2 tenants that they did not have, and have not, a bedbug problem, can I have my new tenants sign a document that says they will be responsible for any bedbug infestation that starts after they move it? I am not trying to step around my responsibility as a landlord to provide a safe and clean home for my tenants but I don't think I should be held responsible for the clean-up of this sort of problem if it is not my fault. I go out of my way to ensure that my units are maintained properly and updated regularly. They are an investment for me and not a primary source of income.

    We have not yet signed a lease and I am having some doubts as to whether we will because of it. Thank you for your time and efforts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: A very interesting question for which I don't have a definitive answer. The argument against your proposition is that the Residential Tenancies Act imposes on landlords a duty to maintain residential units in a good state of repair and fit for habitation (section 20 RTA). It is generally accepted that a rental unit infested with bed bugs is not fit for habitation. Hence, if your units became infested, your section 20 obligation would require you to deal with the bed bug problem.

      Can you write a clause in your lease that shifts the expense of dealing with a bed bug problem to the tenants? To many, such a clause would be akin to transferring the section 20 obligation to the tenant. Such a clause would be void and unenforceable as conflicting with the RTA (section 4 RTA). The argument goes that the section 20 obligations belong to the landlord and trying to make tenants pay for these obligations is simply not possible.

      If I was asked to argue your position I would look for the very documents you propose to have--signed statements from the previous statements. I would also have the residential complex thoroughly inspected by a certified pest control technician and have that person provide a report confirming that there are no bed bugs in the residential complex. I would then write to the prospective tenants to advise that you are aware that they are coming from a building infested with bed bugs. You should advise that if they bring bedbugs to the building you will hold them liable for the costs of treatment and any consequential damages on the basis that they have "negligently" damaged the rental unit/complex. You should inform the tenants that they should ensure that they do not bring infested belongings to the premises and that all of their property should be treated by a professional (perhaps heat treated).

      With this evidence in hand, and the warnings given, I think a case can be made to charge the tenants for the cost of treatment under section 34 RTA. This would be negligent damage to the rental unit/complex and you could use a Form N5 to pursue the claim.

      The foregoing being said, I don't like your chances against the tenant if there is in fact a bedbug infestation. Your chances become even less impressive if any significant period of time elapses between the tenants moving in and an infestation occurring. I think it becomes increasingly difficult to prove how the infestation occurred. What is the negligent act (specifically) that the tenants have done to cause the damage? Simply saying--you brought bedbugs is not good enough. If you could prove that the infestation arose from bringing in an infested bed--you could say that the negligent act was failing to inspect the bed properly and bringing it into the unit when it was clear to a reasonable person that doing so would cause an infestation in the building. Sounds good---but the chances of having evidence as clear as this is exceptionally unlikely.

      Delete
    2. As you know, having a bed bug infestation is more a question of "when" than "if". It is entirely possible that the tenants move in perfectly fine and clean furniture (nothing negligent). Then they go and visit a friend in the old building and sit on an infested couch with a few bedbugs catching a ride in a pant cuff to your building. I doubt very much that this is actionable as "negligent" and frankly, good luck proving it. The insidious nature of these pests is that it could be anyone brining them over--including your existing tenants.

      I have certainly heard of cases where landlords have charged back treatment costs. I have brought numerous such cases myself and have been successful. However, the premise of these cases has been when the tenants have refused treatment or refused to properly prepare for treatment. Also, my clients have had success where we have been able to demonstrate that the tenant has repeatedly brought into the unit infested items. Otherwise, I've had no success on behalf of my clients to get tenants to pay for seemingly random or unexplained infestations.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  42. I am currently living in a rented townhouse (in Ontario) undergoing treatment for a bedbug infestation. The exterminator hired by the property manager has indicated that he does "not feel good about his chances" of getting rid of the bugs infesting a particular large couch and has asked if I might simply throw it out. Am I obliged to throw out my furniture if its suggested by the exterminator? Can the landlord require me to discard my furniture at my own expense or are they required to pay to treat the affected furniture, even if their hired exterminator believes it will be difficult and make it difficult/impossible for them to warranty their work?

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    Replies
    1. Hi: I'm not sure that there is an absolute right or wrong way to answer this question. What is clear in the law is that a landlord is responsible to treat for bed bugs (and other pests). The expense of that treatment belongs to the landlord. However, if the professional retained by the landlord advises that there is no effective treatment for your couch is the landlord off the hook for further treatment or for paying for the value of the couch?

      It seems to me that your loss of the couch is recoverable against the landlord using a Form T6. The unfortunate aspect will be that the value of recovery is unlikely to be the cost of a new couch. You ultimately end up out of pocket.

      I think an alternative would be to get an opinion from a different contractor and quote for treatment of the couch. I'm curious if you could have the couch heat treated and kill the bedbugs that way. How much would that cost and is there a local service to you that would do the work. There certainly are "heat" treatment contractors for this in Ontario. It seems on the advice of the landlord's contractor that the couch can't be successfully treated by him, getting a quote from a different contractor that can treat the couch is useful. If the cost of treating the couch is reasonable, relative to the value of the couch, then I think it is reasonable to require the landlord to pay the cost of the treatment.

      In reaching these conclusions I make the assumption that the cost of treatment for pests belongs entirely to the landlord. At present, this does appear to be the law and attempts at shifting responsibility for the costs onto tenants are largely unsuccessful.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  43. We are renting a home, and we're notified recently that the landlord will be selling the house. The realtor has been here twice. Now it's on the market and we are having to deal with multiple showings of the home each day, at different times through the day. It has become very disruptive. Is this legal? Is it violating our right to quiet enjoyment? Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi: Pursuant to section 27 of the Residential Tenancies Act (specifically section 27(2)) "A landlord or, with a written authorization of a landlord, a broker or salesperson registered under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, may enter a rental unit in accordance with written notice given to the tenant at least 24 hours before the time of entry to allow a potential purchaser to view the rental unit." Section 27(3) provides "The written notice under subsection 1 or 2 shall specifiy the reason for entry, the day of entry and a time of entry between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8 p.m.".

      The short answer is that your rental unit can be shown to prospective buyers with 24 hour written notice for a time between 8 a.m. and 8p.m..

      While the RTA doesn't set out limits to the number of showings anything that verges on the ridiculous is not something that you will be forced to put up with. If there are simply too many showings consider contacting a lawyer to write to the landlord advising that the showings need to be better coordinated given the impact of them on you and your family.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  44. Hi Michael,

    I moved into my apartment in March 2016 in Etobicoke.

    In June I started to notice some bites on my arms. I thought it must be mosquitos. I then got unfortunate news that my Grandfather passed away and had to travel back to Australia for 2 weeks. Upon returning I spent 1 night in my apartment to wake up covered in bites all over my body which I took photos of. I then went home and checked my box spring to find tiny bugs crawling around (my bed is $2000 brand new bed not even 1 year old).

    I immediately contacted my landlord who brought a spray bottle. I informed him I need to stay in a hotel as I cannot stay in my apartment. He told me that they were not paying for this and pest control would come out 2 days latter. I informed him this was an urgent matter and I am not waiting that long. I am a Property Manager so I contacted my own pest control who came out the following day. I also spent 6+ hours exhausted from work and jet lag laundering my belongings. My neighbours on my floor also said the people in my apartment had bugs... so why did everyone know yet I still have to deal with this?

    My pest control also checked the apartments on the sides (which my landlord paid for) and above and informed me that the infestation was an old one from the tenants before me and most likely drawn out by the heat. Following treatment I returned and put my mattress and box spring in encasements.


    A week later I broke my wrist and stayed with a friend. My place still bare and all my clothes etc in bags. As a result I was out of the apartment 2 weeks. I had a second spray done and returned a week later to sleep on an air mattress in the living area. The bugs returned. I got another spray but they are still in my apartment. I do not have many belongings and what I do have is brand new.

    I signed a one year lease and my landlord is saying he isn't doing anything further and that I need to move and he will refund my last month rent. I am disgusted... I am going to have to throw out most of my belongings and move into a share house to save up enough to be on my own again...

    What are my rights here? I want all rent I have paid for 4 months + my last month refunded to compensate for all the belongings I have to discard off... my sanity and moving costs.

    Anna

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    Replies
    1. Hi Anna: Bed bug cases are difficult. However, your facts as you describe them are favourable to getting the kind of order you want. If you can prove that the unit was rented to you when the Landlord (and apparently all neighbours) knew the unit was infested you were rented a unit that was not fit for habitation. Your landlord would have known that moving your property into the unit would result in it becoming infested or that it was very likely that it would be. On this alone you should be able to terminate and get compensated. The next most useful thing for you is your landlord's comment that he is not doing anything else. Hopefully this is confirmed in writing or in an email or a text or a voicemail--or somehow else that you can prove. The statement is moronic from a legal perspective. The landlord's refusal to treat and take the necessary steps to make your unit fit for habitation (i.e. get rid of the bugs), opens the door again for you to claim termination, all rent paid, compensation for lost property, moving costs, utilities, etc.. Put together properly, you have a great case.

      Whether you can argue this case yourself or not is another question altogether. There is a "legal logic" that establishes why you should get these remedies. The "legal logic" goes beyond the facts--and normally it is best if you can get a lawyer or paralegal to help you argue the matter. As you are trying to get back all rent paid, moving costs, and loss of property it is a substantial claim and having some caselaw as authority would be helpful in proving your entitlement in the case.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  45. Hi Anna, my employer has a tenant who has resided as his tenant for the past 16 years in an apartment in Toronto and advised in June 2016 that she was having an issue with bedbugs. Immediately upon being told the landlord called the condo mgmt team who arraigned for immediate action, on her apartment plus all other apartments in the building. They have had several treatments already and plan on having more, acting as swiftly as they can to rid themselves of this pest. Our problem is that the tenant feels she is not liable to pay any rent given the circumstances of the bedbugs and my employer is uncertain of how to procede as she is avoiding all conversation pertaining to paying anything inspite of still living in the unit. Please advise. Charlene

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    1. Hi: If a tenant has not paid rent then the way to proceed is to issue an N4 for termination for non-payment of rent OR if you do not wish to evict and getting an Order for just rent is realistically enforceable against the tenant then you could apply only for the rent arrears and not termination. The choice is the landlord's on how to proceed. If the tenant wants to argue for a rent abatement then fine, let her do so at the hearing. Be prepared to prove your actions in relation to the bedbugs and be ready to show that you proceeded swiftly and appropriately upon being notified of the infestation. Even if the tenant wins "something" (which is not at all clear), at least you will have the issues sorted. Ultimately, the LTB is not going to allow the tenant to live in the unit for free.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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IMPORTANT NOTICE

Any answers provided are intended to reflect the Law of Ontario, Canada. The answers are not legal advice and no one should rely on the answers provided as legal advice. The answers are intended to be general information about Ontario Law and are the personal view of the author based on the limited facts provided to the author. The answers may not be legally accurate and may indeed be contrary to the law of Ontario. Answers and conclusions drawn may have been different if facts had been shared that have not been disclosed in the comment/question. This blog is intended to assist people in learning about Ontario Landlord and Tenant Law. However, if you have actual legal problems this blog should under no circumstances replace proper legal advice obtained by retaining a lawyer or licensed paralegal to advise you. Nothing in this blog, comments submitted or answers provided, gives rise to a solicitor and client relationship. Comments are published as submitted and commenters should be aware that if they identify themselves in a comment that their identity will become public upon the comment being published. Comments that have been published may be deleted upon request to the author.

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About Michael Thiele

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Ottawa lawyer and partner at Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP.  Graduate of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.  Called to the bar in Ontario in 1997.  Undergraduate degree at Colby College, Waterville Maine, U.S.A.