If you have a bed bug infestation, it’s best to inform the landlord immediately to protect yourself from potential legal liability. However, the process can be dreadful, especially for tenants who encounter a bed bug problem for the first time.
Our team developed an in-depth guide to help you craft a letter of demand to your landlord.
Preparing A Bed Bug Demand Letter
The bed bug demand letter is the initial step in taking legal action if the landlord or hotel room management is negligent of their duties.
But before anything else, if you find bed bug bites all over you, the best course of action is to seek medical treatment. Bed bug injuries left untreated can be quite dangerous.
Next, review your legal rights, as it’s common for hosts to blame tenants and coerce them to shoulder the extermination process and any medical expenses.
Lastly, tidy up your room to further support your bed bug claims. The critters are associated with cluttered apartment rooms, so clean up!
What You Need To Know
If you have sufficient ground to pursue legal action, begin to resolve the issue by writing a personal letter of demand that details the following elements:
State Your Experience
In this section, you will describe your experiences as a victim of dreadful insects. It’s important to detail when you first noticed the bed bug problem accurately.
Proceed with discussing any injuries incurred, medical attention you received to treat the problem, and any steps you’ve committed to eradicating the critters. Include photos of the insects or bites on your person, if possible.
All states except Arkansas demand landowners and hotel owners to ensure the habitability of hotel guests. It’s an implied warranty to keep living quarters safe, so any pain beyond this is subject to settlement.
Determine the Cost of Damages
In this part of the letter to your landlord, you can discuss any financial damage the critters have caused you. Inserting the costs will add more leverage in your favor. Use the examples below if they apply:
- Medical bills from the treatment of bites
- Lost belongings
- Furniture damages
- Lost wages
- Interrupted vacations
- Cost of extermination actions
When you seek compensation, the settlement amount you state in the letter will be the basis . Make sure to request money that is within reason. That is, considering all injuries and property damages caused by these pests.
Most cases are often settled in a small claims court so long as the claims are reasonable and an apartment or a hotel’s insurance carrier will pay the costs. One tactic to accurately price your bed bug claims is to read online resources on average settlement values in the U.S. or consult attorneys specializing in the insects.
Seek Professional Help
If you don’t know how to move forward with the litigation process, it’s best to contact a law firm. A licensed attorney can provide relevant insights specific to your setting and the problem at hand. An attorney can definitely assist you in writing a letter to your lessor.
Some attorneys provide free consultation for such predicaments, and it’s better to seek assistance to avoid additional expenses.
5 Tips When Drafting A Bed Bug Demand Letter
1. Observe Professionalism
Being a victim of an infestation from pesky bed bugs can be infuriating. But then again, there is a legal procedure to address such issues.
More often than not, a hotel owner or landlord will comply with the pay when pursued via due process. So, maintain professional decorum when you file your demand.
Attorneys can also help you write, but we’ll provide an example below.
2. Make It Clear & Simple
The last thing you want is a landlord saying, “this letter doesn’t address all my questions.” So being clear, concise, precise, and straightforward is necessary.
Ask for the money you want in light of the issue in a simple manner. Don’t complicate things by beating around the bush. Any money claims should be calculative; that is, explain in writing how you arrived at the number.
Basically, write each value of your losses from the infestation, then sum them up.
3. Stick to the Facts
Everything you state will be added to the evidence, so always be truthful. Photos of the bed bugs or bites will be instrumental in helping your case. If their insurance company doesn’t reach out soon or no action is observed, then you may choose to sue.
Start by sending a certified letter, including the return receipt, to whoever is concerned. Then ask them to preserve documents stating maintenance, service requests, letters, invoices, payments, and prior complaints for two years before your stay.
Most of the time, hotels take action before they file a lawsuit.
4. Set A Deadline
Set a deadline to motivate the hotel owner or landlord to deal with the situation. Typically, a couple of weeks would be enough time.
Then, supply an actual date explaining that you’ll be forced to resort to legal steps if the bed bugs are not dealt with. Get a sample bed bug report here.
5. Cite Local Laws
If your landlord tends to play the victim and pin the issue on you, citing local laws or ordinances against bed bug infestation may strengthen your position. Here’s an example:
“According to [law name], as the landlord or hotel owner, it is your responsibility to have any unit infested with bed bugs investigated within three days. If bed bugs are found, you have ten days to hire a licensed pest management company to provide extermination services until the bed bugs are eradicated from the unit and those adjacent.”
Read: Ohio Bed Bug Laws
Sample Bed Bug Demand Letter To A LandLord
[Landlord’s City, State, and Zipcode]
Dear [Landlord’s name],
My name is [your name], a resident of [name of the apartment] currently checked into [your address and unit number].
I write this message to let you know that there’s a bed bug infestation within my unit. I first noticed them when I saw a cluster of dark spots along my bed and now I experience bites and sore areas caused by the insects.
This letter aims to remind you that per our State’s Municipal Code, it is within your scope as a landlord to hire a pest management professional who will eradicate the suspected pests occupying the unit.
According to the law, you are required to render said services within ten (10) days upon receiving this letter and until the bug infestation is dealt with and the insects completely eradicated. Moreover, the law urges you to record all control services executed by the pest management expert.
To completely adhere to the municipal standard, you are demanded to perform the same inspection and treatment to units directly adjacent, above, and below the affected dwelling.
If you so fail to inspect and treat the bed bugs, you are liable for violating [your state’s] municipal code which entails a fine of [fine amount range in dollars] for the offense. Alternatively, this may escalate into a legal complaint falling under the category of premise liability and gross negligence. Each passing day the violation perpetrates, and an offense fine is incurred and accumulated.
Furthermore, pursuant to the said ordinance, I shall withhold my monthly rent amounting to [amount in dollar] until the case is resolved. The amount reflects the diminished value of the unit given the bed bugs.
If you fail to address the condition within [a certain amount of days according to your city’s ordinance] upon receiving this notice, I will begin withholding my rent beginning [projected date]. Lastly, our city ordinance clearly states that you may NOT terminate my tenancy or increase my payable rents as retaliation for my complaint regarding the bed-bug-infested unit.
Sincerely, [Your name]
[Your unit number and tenant address]
[Your City, State, and Zipcode]
Note: You may also include your phone number and email address below as additional information.
Bed Bug Demand Letter To A Hotel
The demand letter to a hotel typically follows the same route as the sample document above.
Suppose you experienced the same infestation at a hotel and the management didn’t take appropriate steps to deal with the issue. In that case, you may craft a demand addressed to the hotel’s corporate headquarters. However, if you checked into a chain hotel, you may reach out to their corporate office instead.
If you’d like to file a lawsuit against the hotel, you must provide more evidence and prove their negligence.
The following may classify as evidence:
- Medical bills – Costs incurred when treating injuries
- Lost wages – Lost work time due to injuries
- Pictures of the bed bugs (nest, eggs, feces)
To make your case stronger, you can state proof of their negligence, like:
- The hotel was made aware of the infestation but didn’t take appropriate action to resolve the issue properly.
- The hotel took action, but the resolution was inappropriate or insufficient to address the problem effectively.
How much is a bed bug case worth?
Insurers typically offer a settlement of $200 to $800 to release liability, but in reality, it can go as high as $15,000. Most insurance of a hotel or landlord describes these cases as nuisance value, so make sure to seek a free case review from an attorney to understand your specific setting.
Do bed bugs always leave evidence?
Yes, bed bugs usually leave evidence of where they’re hiding. You may find bed bugs in your mattress’s piping, seams, or tags . They can also hide in crevices along your headboard, bed frame, or wall. The presence of spotted stains, small eggs, or shells indicates they’re nearby. Learn how fast bed bugs move from room to room here.
How do you prove bed bugs?
You may prove the presence of bed bugs through pictures of the pests, bites over your body, or medical statements from experts corroborating the bites. If you have tangible evidence of bed bugs in a hotel or apartment, contact the management immediately. But why does Ohio have so many bed bugs?
Bed bugs are a big problem in the U.S., and anyone may fall victim to them. If you reside in an apartment or are staying in a hotel, it’s necessary to know the legal steps to address the problem to protect yourself down the line.
Addressing any bed bug infestation begins with writing a demand letter that initiates immediate action from your apartment or hotel’s management.
We hope the above article and examples can help sort out your pest issues.
Alene Schill is a property manager from Columbus, Ohio, who has dealt with numerous pest control agencies. She helps families find the perfect homes and knows very well that bed bugs are an ultimate deal-breaker. She enjoys cycling around Scioto Mile during her spare time.