Thursday, 30 October 2014

Bedbugs: Can the Landlord Make a Tenant Pay the Cost of Treatment

It is not infrequent that I get calls from tenants and landlords alike asking about the costs that go with dealing with bedbugs.  Landlords, most often, are concerned about the costs of seemingly never-ending treatment by professional pest control contractors.  Landlords want to pass on the costs of treatment to the tenants or sometimes more specifically to tenants they have identified through whatever means as the source of the infestations.

Tenants of course, are extremely unhappy about the costs that they bear as a result of infestations.  It takes a lot of time and hassle to get ready for a bedbug treatment.  At a minimum, a tenant will have to take all washable clothing, jackets, fabrics, stuffed toys, and wash them and dry at high temperatures to kill any bugs.  Further, tenants will have to bag their items, move the furniture in their home and be ready to be inconvenienced for an extended period of time.  Some property might also have to be thrown out as pest treatment for some things just aren't possible.

One fact that everyone can agree upon is that dealing with bedbugs is an expensive and highly disruptive process.

So, can a landlord make a tenant pay for the costs of treatment?  The straightforward answer, in the vast majority of cases is "no".  For the most part, maintaining a rental property to a standard that is fit for habitation requires a landlord to spend the money to treat for pests.  Bedbugs, ants, cockroaches are all part of the same over all problem and are the responsibility of the landlord.  At the time of writing this article I am unaware of any Board decisions that impose the entire cost of pest control treatment on a tenant.

There are, however, some exceptions to the landlord being solely responsible for treatment costs.  The presence of bedbugs, specifically, is something that is very difficult to source.  How did the bedbugs get in the unit?  The presence of bedbugs is not usually attributable to the condition of the building.  Nor is their presence necessarily attributable to whether a tenant is clean and maintains their unit.  Bedbugs can infest a perfectly constructed and new building and further they can infest a perfectly clean and meticulously maintained apartment.  The fact is that bedbugs can hitch a ride into any kind of building--in furniture, clothing, luggage, and even in new furniture that comes into contact with old furniture in moving trucks.

The point about bedbug infestations is that it is incredibly difficult to determine where exactly the bugs came from.  There are, of course, exceptions.  Some known risky sources for bedbugs is used furniture, stereo equipment and even used books.  In buildings where tenants source furnishings for their units from "free" sources or used places there tends to be a higher incidence of bedbug infestation.  Where it becomes increasingly clear that a particular tenant is introducing bedbugs into a unit or building by bringing "risky" furnishings into the building it may indeed be possible to bring eviction proceedings against the tenant for doing so.  It is possible to assert that the costs associated with bringing infested furnishings into the apartment complex--contrary to an agreement not to do so--can be the basis for claiming the costs of bedbug treatment.  In my experience, claims founded on such allegations tend to work after numerous treatments and observations of the tenant introducing bedbug infested furnishings into their unit.

Another avenue of possible financial recovery for bedbug treatment against a tenant is when the tenant fails to adequately prepare for treatment.  The ability of bedbugs to survive treatment is quite high.  For treatment to have the best possible chance of success, a tenant is required to prepare their unit for treatment.  Pest control companies normally have a unit preparation sheet that sets out a whole list of things that need to be done to make a unit ready for treatment.  That sheet needs to be delivered to the tenant well in advance of the intended treatment and it needs to be stressed to the tenant that the instructions need to be complied with.  While many landlords don't do it, I strongly urge landlords that I represent to not only deliver the instructions sheet but to also contact tenants to ask if they need any help in complying with the instructions.  It is in the interest of both the landlord and the tenant that a unit be properly prepared for treatment.

If a tenant fails to prepare a unit properly for treatment the landlord will normally receive a report from the pest control company that the unit was not sprayed as it was not properly prepared or that the unit was treated but that the failure to prepare it properly likely will mean that treatment will not be effective.  The end result is that the cost of treatment will increase as the pest control company will  be invoicing the landlord for multiple treatments or wasted attendances due to incomplete preparation of the unit for treatment.  These costs can indeed be used in a Notice of Termination and charged back to a tenant if there is no good excuse for the failure to prepare the unit for treatment.  In this respect, having documented not only the delivery of the preparation sheet but also the inquiry to the tenant about them needing "help" to prepare is useful evidence.

In summary, in the vast majority of situations, the cost of treating for bedbugs is the sole responsibility of the landlord.  Bedbugs are a pest, like other pests, that simply are a reality of modern living that the landlord needs to anticipate as part of its maintenance obligation.  The same is true with respect to the impact of bedbugs on tenants living and their property.  For the most part, so long as a landlord follows the advice of a licenced pest control company and that advice is comprehensive and sound, a landlord will not be liable to a tenant for the inconvenience associated with a bedbug infestation.

Michael K. E. Thiele
www.ottawalawyers.com


24 comments:

  1. Do landlords (or property management companies in my case) have to hire certified pest control companies? My property manger hired a green pest control company that isn't certified and has no licensed technicians. As such I still have cockroaches in the apartment. (I also had to was off some of the gel because it was right in the front of my cabinets where my children's hands would go right in it.) Is this legal?

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    1. Hi:

      A landlord has the obligation to maintain and repair a rental unit and maintain it to a standard that is fit for habitation. When there is a pest infestation (cockroaches, bed bugs, etc.), the landlord is required to respond to the infestation by dealing with it. Generally speaking, the landlord avoids liability for not maintaining the unit to a standard of "fit for habitation" by demonstrating that the landlord, upon learning of the infestation, hired a professional to deal with the problem in an expeditious manner.

      Must the landlord hire a "professional"? No, there is nothing in the RTA that requires the use of professionals or licensed individuals for pest control (so long as the products used may be used by unlincensed persons). In theory, the landlord could go to Canadian Tire, buy some product and do it himself. He could also hire a "green" pest control company as in your case. However, if the "do it yourself" treatment did not work, or if the "green" company process did not work and the tenant continued to suffer from the infestation then it is arguable that the landlords manner of proceeding was not reasonable nor expeditious. By choosing a method that does not return the apartment to a state of "fit for habitation" as soon as possible the landlord opens himself to liability and a tenant application for an abatement of rent and other damages. Of course, if the "other" methods work then there is nothing to complain about. The risk of proceeding in this way is the landlords.

      Hope that answers your question.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    2. I have read many of your responses on the matter of bed bugs! By far the best resource I have found on the topic! I truly appreciate your time, contribution, and knowledge on the issue.
      My issue is that I returned after being away for 2 weeks over the holidays, to find bed bugs in my unit. I immediately emailed the landlord regarding the issue at 3am. I complied with all washing and prep work. The landlord is now telling me that I have to pay the large bill for treatment of 3 units in a 30+ unit building. I do not believe I am the source, as I have had to remove bats personally from my unit.
      How do I combat these allegations? And what are the steps and actions I can take to not pay?
      Thank you again, this has been a stressful time, and your blog has been the first piece of good news!
      -Jordan

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  2. My landlord didn't inform us that there was a bed bug infestation. I saw the pest control here last Friday and then started getting bit. I had to ask for them to bring the pest control here. Are they not responsible to tell us?

    Also while my place is being treated. I will have no where to sleep. Are they required to put me up in a hotel?

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    1. Hi Jennifer: The answers to these questions are not explicitly set out in the Residential Tenancies Act. Accordingly, there will always be some debate about exactly what a tenant or landlord is required to do. In my view, if a landlord is aware of an infestation in a particular tenant's unit then the landlord is obliged to inform the tenant of that infestation. Is the landlord obliged to inform a tenant of an infestation in another unit in the building? My answer to that is "it depends". If the infestation is such that it needs to be of concern to other tenants then I imagine the answer is yes. However, if the infestation is localized and unlikely to require action of other tenants then the answer is likely "no". Depending on the type of infestation, an infestation of say bedbugs in one area of the building does not mean that there will be an infestation throughout the building. In larger buildings you have actually have spot treatments going on throughout the building.

      I would be surprised if your bedbug treatment required you to sleep away from your rental unit. The last pest control technician I examined provided a 4 hour window of time that no one could be in the unit after treatment. That time frame would not normally take you out of the unit over-night.

      If you have a treatment that requires you to be out of the unit overnight it is arguable that the landlord should pay for accommodation. Presently, the chance of getting an order requiring the landlord to pay for a hotel is unlikely, but certainly as the pendulum swings in these cases there have been decisions from the Court where landlords have been ordered to pay for the cost of accommodation. The usual outcome today (after hearing at the Landlord and Tenant Board) is that tenants bear the cost of getting ready for treatment---and they get the unit ready---and the landlord pays for the treatment. It would be unusual to require the landlord to put a tenant up in a hotel, pay for preparation etc..

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  3. My landlord has given me notice that a pest control company will do a preventative maintenance inspection of my apartment. This is because apartments near mine have had bed bug treatment. There is no trace of bed bugs in my apartment. Do I have to submit to the full treatment if there is no trace of bed bugs in my apartment, and if I am doing my own preventative maintenance? Thanks.

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    1. Hi: For the most part the answer will be "yes". The landlord may give a proper 24 hour notice to do this inspection. It is a reasonable notice to deal with a real problem. The treatment if any will be recommended by the pest control expert. If you disagree with that pest control expert (because you have your own expert), then you could bring an application to the Board seeking an Order that the Landlord not conduct the work. The adjudicator would decide whether the landlord may proceed or not and of course the adjudicator would hear the basis of your objection.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  4. "in the vast majority of situations, the cost of treating for bedbugs is the sole responsibility of the landlord." I don't see your answer to Jennifer's question, which was a good one. Mine is similar. Can a tenant require that the landlord bear the cost of 3rd-party unit preparation, especially in the case of re-infestation when the tenant believes that the re-infestation is a result of insufficient effort to prevent the reoccurence?

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    1. Hi: Certainly a tenant may require a landlord to bear the cost and that may lead to a fight before the Board. The tenant's case gets stronger if the tenant is able to demonstrate that the treatment to date has been inadequate or poorly done. However, my experience has been that landlords who follow the advice of professional pest control companies are not required to pay any costs beyond the cost of the pest control treatment.

      That being said, an argument can certainly be made tied into the duty of the landlord to provide a unit that is fit for habitation. The obligation is contractual and does not rest on negligence theory. Having a unit that is infested with bugs is generally accepted to be a breach of the obligation to provide a unit that is fit for habitation. Expenses incurred/damages suffered as a result of that infestation and breach of the lease to provide a unit fit for habitation can lead to the conclusion that the landlord is responsible to pay for all of the associated expenses. The argument is a strong one. However, in the cases I've dealt with the tenants end up being responsible for the costs of preparation etc., and the landlord is responsible for the cost of treatment until the infestation is resolved. Certainly if you have a case where the treatment or dealing with the problem is poor--and you can prove it--then the argument becomes stronger that the landlord should indemnify you further for damages sustained.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  5. Hello there,

    Tenants found bedbugs in unit in September and landlords immediately actioned an exterminator. Treatment was successful, however the tenant paid partial cost of treatment before learning of The RTA. The tenants requested the payment be returned, the landlord is now threatening legal action (small claims) for the entire cost of the treatment.

    Can a landlord take a tenant to small claims court or must they first go through the LTB?

    Thank you!

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    1. Hi: The landlord should proceed before the Landlord and Tenant Board on this issue as the Landlord and Tenant Board has exclusive jurisdiction to determine all applications under the Act and with respect to all matters in which jurisdiction is conferred on it by the Residential Tenancies Act (see section 168 Residential Tenancies Act). I would presume that the landlord's angle is that the bedbugs constitute "damage" to the rental unit--either willful or negligent. The issue of tenants causing damage to a rental unit is a "matter" in which jurisdiction is conferred on the Board. This power is conferred in section 62 (includes eviction) and section 89 of the RTA which allows an application--similar to court claim---for damage willfully or negligently caused.

      In my opinion the landlord must proceed to the LTB, so long as the tenant is in possession of the rental and the claim is for under $25k. That being said, you can indeed find some cases that have proceeded at the Small Claims Court and you can find some cases where small claims court judges have ignored the issue of exclusive jurisdiction or have determined that there is a concurrent jurisdiction. While these cases are out there, there are also several that I think have the best analysis of the issue and in those cases the Small Claims Court matter is dismissed/stayed on the basis that the exclusive jurisdiction is with the Landlord and Tenant Board. If the landlord files a claim with the Small Claims Court one of the defences you lead is that the proper forum is the Landlord and Tenant Board on the basis of its exclusive jurisdiction and that the Small Claims Court matter should be dismissed. (this changes if the tenant vacates or the claim exceeds $25K and the landlord wants to proceed to Superior Court for more than $25K).

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  6. Are landlords required to inform tenants about known bed bug infestations before the tenant moves in? As in, if there was a previous history of bed bugs that was known in the building, are they required to inform the tenant before they move in before, so they knew what they were getting into? My apartment is filled with bed bugs right now that we got after moving in and there is no way we brought them - i saw a bed frame covered in bed bug stains in the garbage outside a few months after moving in and a few weeks before noticing I was getting bites, so it was clearly from another unit. I'm wondering why they didn't warn the building or why we didn't get a notice that there were bed bugs. Also, are landlords required to cover the cost of all of my damaged furniture? I bought all brand new things before moving into this place and they are all destroyed, stained, and overall ruined. I asked the company I was renting with and they out right refused to cover the cost of my ruined furniture without giving me an explanation as to why.

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    1. Hi: The answer to this question is not as straight-forward as you might expect. In residential landlord and tenant matters the first place to "look" for an answer to a question like this is to open the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA)--this is the law that governs the relationship between landlords and tenants. It is generally understood that landlord and tenant relations are governed in a code like manner with the RTA setting out the rules. The RTA provides that any deal, clause, or agreement contrary to the RTA is void and unenforceable. All this lends to the idea that the RTA provides the scope of rules, rights, responsibilities.

      Based on the foregoing, if you flip through the RTA you will not find any section dealing with pre-occupancy disclosure by landlord to tenant. The RTA is silent on this topic. Does it have to be silent? No, it is a legislative choice by the Ontario government not to require this information to be disclosed. Indeed, you can find other disclosure obligations in the RTA on other issues. Technically speaking then, there is nothing in the RTA that makes the landlord disclose the presence of bedbugs, pests of any kind etc.. Some people think that landlords should have to disclose the incidence of violent crimes in rental units (which isn't required either) but which makes for an interesting debate.

      That being said, I do think tenants have (or should have) recourse for a landlord's failure to disclose the presence of bedbugs in a rental unit or complex. Especially if the bedbug infestation is active at the time that the tenant is moving in. A basic requirement of a landlord, under the RTA, is to provide a unit that is fit for habitation. It is accepted that an infested rental unit is not fit for habitation. The damage that will be caused to a tenant who is moving into an infested unit is foreseeable and virtually assured. The landlord's failure to provide a unit that is fit for habitation and indeed knowingly allowing a tenant to move into a unit that isn't fit for habitation should, I think, form the basis for termination of the tenancy and compensation for all damages incurred as a result.

      There may indeed be decisions in line with the foregoing, though I confess not having seen any and I haven't researched this answer. However, I have indeed heard decisions being rendered by the Board terminating tenancies where the tenant moved into an infested unit. In those cases there were no claims for damages--just termination. I don't think it is a stretch to argue for damages. A caveat though, all cases must be proven and you would still bear the burden as the applicant to prove that the landlord knew of the problem, knew that you would suffer losses (on a balance of probabilities), and of course you need to prove your damages.

      Good luck

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  7. Michael you are a great person to address all these comments and in a thorough way. If you address mine then I will add you on linkedin and I owe a favour within my expertise and skill set. I'm a network specialist btw.

    I need your expertise to a particular situation please

    Here is the story.

    I moved to a condo in Nov. Found out that the unit has a major cockroaches problem that drove the pervious tenant away

    (Let's say I can't bring prove because i don't know how to reach them but got confirmation from the neighbour which I'm not sure she will testify in court if required).

    Back to the story...
    The first few weeks of moving I was dealing with 3-5 cockroaches a day between dead and alive because the unit was Sprayed in October. Now of course the landlord knew about the cockroaches problem because he sprayed the unit by a professional but he didn't inform me and also he didn't verify the issue is cleared before leasing the unit.

    Now another treatment from a professional was arranged by the same company which came in February and did a gel treatment which didn't fix the issue.

    Again a third treatment/spray of a new company (The building pest control specialist) in May.

    The landlord said it would take 3 days to clear according to the specialist but I kept see cockroaches then again he said 7 days and I also saw a cockroach 9 days after the treatment.

    Now to proof I started bringing newspaper home with me with the date on it and I took a video when I found a cockroach 9 days after the last treatment then moved the camera to the news paper with the date on it then to the unit number outside as a proof that I still deal with cockroaches. (So far one video only but I'm sure more will be available soon)

    The landlord is asking for a month worth of rent on top of my actual rent if I break the lease or he would come after me for the remaining period in court which is 5 months worth of rent.

    I gave him notice of evacuation on May 2nd that I'm terminating the lease by May/31st.

    Please notice the following summary points:
    1) that all communication between me and landlord are documented by email.
    2) Landlord knew about cockroaches problem before I move proofed by the treatment in October
    3) Landlord always responded quickly to hire a company although the situation is improving but I still see cockroaches which is why I want to break the lease. I don't think it is fair he is treating the unit on my tap. every time a company comes I have to empty the kitchen and washroom which takes me two hours on top of the stress dealing with cockroaches in my bedroom sometimes.
    4) I have a video to proof with news paper date that I saw a cockroach 9 days after the treatment
    5) I gave official notice of termination by email with date, address on it on May/2nd to end the lease on May/31st
    6) I want out of the lease because I'm sick of the unit
    7) Landlord gave the following options:
    A) get out by May/15 and he keeps last month rent (October rent) = 1.5 month worth
    B) get out by June/30 and he keeps last month rent = 1 month worth of rent
    C) stay the whole period until end of October

    I also stopped the check for May/1st because I think he should use October rent(Last month) towards May so I can get out by May/31st. Ofcourse he is pissed about it

    Sorry for the long comment but I thought it is good you have all the information and I owe one for sure.

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    1. Hi Khaled: There is no perfect solution to your problem nor is there any strategy that doesn't come with a bit of stress and risk. Even simply accepting the lease and staying there to the end of term and giving notice to terminate 60 days before the end of the term brings stress and hassle for you. Seems that however you approach it, you are in an unhappy spot.

      When this is the situation I generally ask my clients what it is that they want. Some want the bugs treated, some some money back, some want nothing less than to terminate and be out of the rental unit. This is the first and most important thing to determine. If you would be satisfied with a rent abatement then giving you a strategy to terminate fails to address your desired outcome. This question may seem obvious and the answer may be obvious but what I find is that many clients don't know the different kinds of remedies they could seek. A rent abatement, compensation for damage to property, termination, a fine for the landlord, there are options that range from maintaining to the tenancy with terms to terminating the tenancy with money being returned. It all just depends. People have all kinds of considerations in deciding whether to terminate, seek compensation, or other remedies and most of these considerations are unique to the individual tenant.

      So that being said, I accept your number six statement that you want out of the lease because you are sick of the unit. I take this to mean that no remedy short of moving elsewhere will be satisfactory to you. I'm pleased for you that you know what you want---it makes the steps to take rather clear.

      You must accept that by moving out you are breaching the lease. The typically approved methods of moving out early (assignment and sublet) are not being pursued by you (just as well as they can be really difficult to do on a unit that is infested with bugs). Another option, to fulfill your goal of terminating the tenancy is to apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board and ask the Board to terminate the tenancy and allow you to move out. You may also ask the Board for a rent abatement, moving costs, etc.. Whether you win such an application depends on your advocacy skills versus your landlord's advocacy skills, the evidence led, and the perspective of the adjudicator towards termination for bug infestations (there are different philosophical considerations on this issue). Filing such an application really begs the question, will you accept a decision that says "no" to termination and perhaps only awards you money or something lesser than what you are seeking? Sometimes, the client's answer is that I am leaving regardless, I'm not concerned about getting money or being ordered to pay money--it is a risk worth taking--as I won't live in these kinds of conditions. From your comment/question, I put you in that camp--especially given your rather aggressive stop payment of the May rent.

      At this stage, the landlord's options are irrelevant. You can give him your own option. You are terminating the tenancy for May 31, he can use the Last Month's Rent deposit for May and (this part is up to you). Do you want money back, a rent abatement, other orders? Or are you satisfied to move out and consider the matter closed?

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    2. It is reasonable enough to stay in the unit until May 31, 2016 and move out as it works for you. The Landlord may decide to serve you with various Notices of Termination--an N4 for termination for non-payment of rent is an obvious choice. That Notice gives you 14 days to pay, after which he can apply to the Board for a hearing date. By the hearing date you have likely already moved out. Attend the hearing, and you can argue for termination as of May 31--the N4 itself also terminate your tenancy--and if you have your evidence of the infestation and evidence that the apartment when rented to you was not fit for habitation you could argue for a refund of all rent paid plus moving expenses to your new place. There is a basis in law for such an argument--though winning this would be a grand slam home run in Landlord and Tenant law circles. However, if the evidence comes out supporting your contentions and you have proof of your expenses you could indeed win this.

      The point is that your landlord assumes risks in chasing you--either at the Board or even later at the Small Claims Court. You are moving for a reason--a good reason. Any adjudicator or Judge will have sympathy for you especially given that your landlord knowingly let you move into an infested premise.

      A big question is to ask--what is the risk to you of simply moving out? The worst case scenario is that the landlord sues you for lost rent (make sure to take video and photographs of the condition of your unit on moving out). In a claim like that you can still defend on the grounds of the landlord renting you a unit not fit for habitation and claim expenses and rent abatements. Even if your claims are not successful, the law requires the landlord to re-rent to mitigate his damages. This means he must actively advertise to re-rent and he has to prove that he took these steps reasonably. He must do this to reduce the extent of his rental losses to your benefit. If he fails to do it the Court will not award him any rent losses. Typically, a Court will order that a reasonable period of time to re-rent is 60 days. Beyond 60 days a Court will get suspicious about the mitigation attempts. This generally plays out as the landlord winning two months rent (plus legal costs) from you--and generally speaking this is your worst case scenario. Your upside is better than your downside. Is you landlord clever enough to know this? If so, you will never hear from your landlord again after you move out. If not, he may try to sue or take you to the Board--but you have a good position and argument against whatever his demands may be.

      Hope that helps. Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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    3. It helps a lot
      Thank you very much for the thorough explanation.

      Would you be interested in the case if it makes it to the court? Would it be possible to get an estimate of the fees if you were to take over the case?

      Delete
  8. Our landlord wants to come in our unit and spray for bed bugs himself does he have the right to do so? We have pets and allergies that we need to be well aware of what's in the protected being spray and what it contains.. If he is allowed to spray himself are we allowed to buy the spray ourselves? Or will that end up making us pay for a professional in the end and not our landlord?

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    1. Hi: Is your a landlord a professional pest control contractor? If not, I'm fairly certain that treatment by your landlord is doomed to failure. Further, I have spoken with enough pest control contractors over the years who truly object to this kind of self help off the shelf usage of chemicals on the grounds that it makes their eventual jobs more difficult. Whatever your landlord sprays may knock down populations temporarily but it is unlikely to work in the long run. In my experience even professional and licenced pest control contractors have difficulty getting rid of bed bugs. The process is more than just spraying chemicals.

      I certainly don't recommend that you pay for the sprays yourself and I would object to the landlord self treating the unit unless he is somehow qualified for the work. That your landlord would rather spray himself than hire a company suggests a level of frugality that is unlikely to recognize the value of professional help. Consider calling property standards and filing a T2/T6 application with the Landlord and Tenant Board at your earliest opportunity.

      Is there a legal basis to object to your landlord doing this work? Certainly the Pesticides Act and the regulations thereto speak to qualified persons doing the work and speak to prohibitions of unqualified people using pesticides. If your landlord has gotten his hands on pesticides that are not otherwise exempted in their use, it is probably illegal for him to use them in your apartment. There are enough instances of people being made ill by improperly used pesticides. Recent examples in Ottawa that I can think of included the use of outdoor pesticides indoors and number of people becoming ill.

      Good luck to you.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  9. Hi,

    Our landlord informed us that another unit in our building had a severe case of bed bugs about a month ago. This tenant also failed to report the issue. The landlord informed us that the only way she knew about the bed bugs was due to the fact that she noticed the dozens of bites all over their bodies when she was conversing with them regarding an unrelated topic. The landlord was the one who suspected bed bugs, thus had pest control assess the situation. Once the bed bug infestation was confirmed, she told us that the pest control would come in to spray and inspect our unit as a preventative measure. After doing so, she informed us that our unit was bug free. However, over the last week, my partner has found several bug bites all over his body, and we actually found a bed bug yesterday in the unit. My landlord advised that she would drop by today to give us the preparation sheet for treatment, and that the pest control would be in on Thursday to do the treatment. We have so much clothing, bedding and stuffed animals. It will cost us a fortune to wash all of these seeing as how we must pay for laundry in the building. Is she required to pay for this, considering there is proof that the bedbugs were brought in by another tenant, or by herself and the pest control when they did the inspection?

    Thanks,

    Kayla

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    1. Hi Kayla: Generally speaking tenants absorb the cost of laundry. The RTA does not specifically say that the landlord must pay for laundering the tenant's possessions when conducting pest treatment and further there is no binding authority that I am aware of that makes this an expense that the landlord must incur. That being said, there are some interesting cases out there, some operating under the banner of accommodation under the Human Rights Code where landlords have been required to pack and move possessions and provide additional supports to tenants for work that needs to be done to prepare for treatment. Coming up with the argument requiring the landlord to provide access to laundry is not a difficult case to make. Whether you would win or not I don't know. I am aware of a few landlords who provide laundry cards to tenants who can not otherwise afford to do the laundry. They also provide bags for bagging clothing and mattress bags to throw out mattresses and other sundry items including detergent. I think these landlords are supplying this level of support because they will otherwise spend a fortune trying to exterminate bedbugs without success.

      The question of how far a landlord has to go to support extermination in a rental unit is, I think, still an open question. In situations where the tenant can afford it--but just wants to be reimbursed--I don't know what the Board would say.

      Let me know how your situation turns out.

      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

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  10. Mr. Thiele,

    I came across your blogs and have a interesting situation that I am not sure falling into your expertice but I figure why not ask.

    İ was in a common law relationship for 6 yrs.
    My partner suddenly passed away due to a car accident in January
    We have purchased a house together. Hər name was only on title due to a law suit against my company that extended my assets so we felt this was a safe move
    We had no will
    Her parents are now the beneficaries of the house and do not want to recognized me as contributing to the house.
    İ have a claim against the estate for the house.

    Now this brings me to my question. What legal action can he take to have me removed from the house, if any. İs there any notice period? Would I be recognized as a lease holders on the house/renter? Or would I even  be  classified as squatting, and what comes along with that? Last in Ontario would he be able to evict me during the winter months and when is that deadline?

    As I started at the beginning mr. Thiele I am not sure if this is anything you have heard of or seen but I thought I would ask because you give such amazing answers.

    Thank you very much for your time to read through this and any time you spend replying is much appreciated.

    All the best.

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    1. Jake: I think it is unlikely that you will be recognized as a residential tenant under the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act. Your relationship with your partner was not one of landlord and tenant and there is no reason that your relationship with the estate would now be characterized as a landlord and tenant relationship. Unless there are facts I am unaware of, I don't see how the Residential Tenancies Act will help you.

      That being said, and to be clear this is well beyond the scope of this blog, you have several remedies open to you in the estate context. You may have rights as a common law spouse, dependent's relief, and legal and/or equitable interests in the property--perhaps on a trust basis. This area of the law is exceedingly complex and if you are not already with an estate's lawyer you should get one very quickly. You have claims to assert and the clock is ticking.

      Good luck to you and I am sorry for your loss of your partner.

      Yours very truly
      Michael K. E. Thiele
      www.ottawalawyers.com

      Delete
  11. Hi,

    I have a detached single family dwelling which has been rented to the same tenants for 2 years now...they just informed me about bedbugs. The house has never had bedbugs and it is clear that they just got them recently by bringing them or from a visitor. I feel that something like this in an detached house is their responsibility. Just like clogging a drain with hair or clogging a toilet, it is the tenants responsibility.
    Is there an actual law about the landlord paying? I can understand how an apartment building can be different as there are independent people living there but this is one house and its detached and one family living there.

    ReplyDelete

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.