According to pest control company Orkin, there were more bed bugs found in several Ohio cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, compared to most other areas — making Ohio one of the worst bed bug areas. Bed bugs are an extreme nuisance and, if left untreated, can turn into a major infestation that could affect your physical and mental well-being.
It’s important to know the Bed Bug laws in Ohio to learn how they can best protect you.
Ohio Bed Bug Laws
If you reside in a rented space in Ohio, the Landlord-Tenant Act, which states that landlords promise tenants habitable spaces, dictates your rights when it comes to possible liabilities and future actions. However, you must also put forth your best efforts to prevent bed bug infestations inside the rental space.
Bed bugs thrive in densely-populated spaces, including apartments, duplexes, condos, and other housing types, which are plentiful in Ohio. The limited space versus high population density allows these pesky critters to spread out and create an infestation.
What are Existing Ohio Bed Bug Laws?
While there isn’t a specific Ohio law concerning bed bugs, general law states that all landlords are responsible for keeping their rental properties in habitable conditions. Since bedbugs-infested apartments do not make for habitable living conditions, they will have breached this law.
However, if your landlord finds out that there is a bed bug infestation in your home, they can’t just waltz in with a tank of EPA-regulated pesticides and hose you and your furniture down. The Ohio Pesticide Apartment Law 921.06, backed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, states that a licensed pest control professional is the only one able to apply commercial pesticides to kill bed bugs.
The Ohio R.C. § 3731.13 Hotels and Single Room Occupancy Facilities protects you should you find bed bugs in hotels. This law states that hotels and motels are prohibited from using bed frames and mattresses infested with bed bugs, and that all pillows, bedding, carpets, and floors must be kept clean and in a sanitary condition.
Furthermore, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of Public and Indian Housing issued a list of rules that tenants and Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) must abide by. The US Environmental Protection Agency and Center for Disease Control and Prevention also have resources on preventing, finding, and eliminating bed bugs.
The Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force, set up by Franklin County, helps combat the bed bug problem within Central Ohio, including Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus. This county resource identifies the best methods of disseminating education and guidance on bed bug prevention, detection, and elimination.
The city council in Lakewood, Ohio, had passed an ordinance to clarify owner and tenant responsibilities about pest management (Property Maintenance Code 1306.34). Here are a few of the regulations stated:
- Maintenance of apartments and other rental properties is the sole responsibility of owners.
- Property owners are responsible for getting rid of infestations in their apartment spaces.
- Tenants should let the apartment owner know of all suspected and confirmed infestations (in writing).
- It is the sole duty of the property owner to let the rental spaces adjacent to the infested unit know of all suspected and confirmed infestations (in writing).
- Tenants should allow access to their unit for pest treatment as the property owner sees fit.
Know Your Legal Rights to Pursue a Lawsuit
While the Landlord-Tenant Law does not have a specific memorandum on handling bed bug infestations, this law states that landlords have the duty of keeping their rental properties in habitable conditions. As bed bug infestations can take a toll on your physical and mental health, having these critters in your home does not make for habitable living conditions. Get your bed bug demand letter sample here.
Compensation for Damages
Most bed bug cases are filed on the basis of negligence, i.e., the property owner failing to uphold their duty of care towards you. If this breach caused you injuries (in this case, bed bug bites), they could be held liable for damages, and you will receive compensation.
Statute of Limitations
In Ohio, bed bug cases are subject to the statute of limitations . Bed bug victims have a maximum of two years to file a lawsuit, whether for personal injury or property damage.
If victims do not file the case within the appropriate statute of limitations, they could lose the right to sue and receive compensation.
Things to Do When Pursuing A Bed Bug Claim
Aside from understanding your rights as an Ohio citizen suffering from a bed bug infestation, there are other things you can do. These do not guarantee success in Ohio bed bug cases, but these raise your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve. Take these to a bed bug attorney.
- Photograph your bed bug bites as soon as you notice them. If the bed bug bites caused an allergic reaction, get those in documentation.
- Take photos that would serve as evidence to identify bed bugs (blood, excrement) in the mattress, box springs, new furniture, etc.
- Secure a written report of the bed bug infestation to the apartment owner, hotel owner, or motel owner.
- Evaluate the value of the property damage caused by the bed bug exposure.
- Seek medical help for all physical, mental, and emotional injuries caused by the bugs.
- Keep records of all documentation, conversations, and costs related to your exposure to the bed bug infestation.
Are Ohio landlords responsible for bed bugs?
Yes, Ohio landlords are responsible for bed bugs. While there are no cut-and-dry Ohio laws for bed bug infestations, all landlords are responsible for making their apartments habitable. If they were to lease units with bed bugs, they would have breached this law.
Do bed bugs need to be reported?
Yes, bed bugs need to be reported. It’s important to tell the landlord immediately if you suspect that there are bed bugs. You will also be helping out those who live nearby, as bed bugs can quickly spread from one place to another.
Can you report a neighbor who has bed bugs?
If you live in a rented space, yes, you can report your neighbor who has bed bugs to the property owner so they can deal with the issue. However, if the home is your personal property and you suspect your neighbor has bed bugs, you can file a claim against your neighbor (although it might be difficult to prove).
Laws on Bed Bugs in Ohio
While there are no specific laws that deal with bed bug infestations in Ohio, remember that there are mandates that protect you and your family should you chance upon these pests. Document accordingly so you have sufficient evidence to back up your claim and receive compensation.
As a tenant, however, you must prevent bed bugs from coming into the rental space, and you must work hand in hand with the property owner to make sure that your living space remains bed bug-free.
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.