Bedbug Form Required in Leases

A new city ordinance requires landlords to attach the following form to all new and renewing apartment leases effective December 8th 2013.

Preventing Infestations in Apartments
CHICAGO DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH


Bed bugs can be found in homes, apartments, hotels, schools, dormitories, shelters, offices and other places. This brochure provides information on bed bugs and what you should do if you have or suspect you have a bed bug infestation in your apartment. It also describes your rights and responsibilities as a tenant.

In 2013, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance to help address the growing problem of bed bugs. This ordinance provides that landlords and tenants share the responsibility in preventing and controlling bed bug infestations. Further, the ordinance requires that landlords provide an informational brochure on bed bugs to tenants. This informational brochure, developed by the Chicago Department of Public Health, is intended to meet this requirement.

What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small, flat, wingless insects. They feed on blood and can be a nuisance for individuals. They are named for their tendency to live on mattresses or other parts of a bed.

What do bed bugs look like?
Adult bedbug: actual sizeAdult bed bugs are roughly the size, shape and color of an apple seed: 1/4 of an inch in length and light or reddish-brown in color. Immature forms of bed bugs are smaller and lighter in color. Eggs are tiny and white. You should be able to see the adult form with your naked eye, but may need a magnifying glass to see the immature forms or eggs. Please refer to the website listed at the end of this brochure for pictures of bed bugs.

Where do bed bugs live?
Bed bugs can be found anywhere people sleep, sit or lay down. They can be found on mattresses and box springs, especially near the piping, seams and tags, and in cracks and crevices of head boards and bed frames. They can also be found in other furniture, especially in the seams and zippers of chairs and couches, in the folds of curtains, in drawer joints, in electrical outlets, behind picture frames and in other tight spaces.

How can bed bugs get into an apartment?
Bed bugs can get into an apartment by hitching a ride on mattresses or other bedding, furniture, clothing and baggage. Once in an apartment, they can crawl from one room to another, or get into an adjacent apartment by crawling through small cracks or holes in walls or ceilings or under doors. Because bed bugs do not have wings, they cannot fly into or around your apartment.

What can I do to prevent bed bugs from getting into my apartment?
Bed bugs can be found most anywhere, so ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. Always check furniture and bedding, especially those bought secondhand, for signs of bed bugs before you buy them. NEVER bring items that someone else has disposed of into your apartment, as these items may be infested with bed bugs. When returning home from travel within or from outside the U.S., ALWAYS inspect your luggage carefully for signs of bed bugs before you bring the luggage into your apartment.

What else can I do to prevent a bed bug infestation?
Reduce clutter, especially in bedrooms. Store unused items in sealed containers or plastic bags. Wash and dry bedding often. Check beds and furniture for signs of bed bugs. Purchase mattress and box spring covers.

Do bed bugs transmit disease?
No, bed bugs are not known to transmit disease.

Are there other health concerns related to bed bugs?
Yes. Their bites, like those of other insects, may cause an allergic reaction with swelling, redness and itching. Their presence may cause people to be anxious and lose sleep.

How do I know if I have a bed bug infestation in my apartment?
Though bites may be an indicator of a bed bug infestation, they are generally a poor one as not all people will react to bed bug bites or the bites may be due to other reasons. The best indication of an infestation is to look for physical signs of bed bugs such as live or dead bed bugs, eggs or eggshells or tiny dark spots or reddish stains on mattresses or other places where bed bugs live.

What should I do if I suspect there are bed bugs in my apartment?
Under this ordinance, tenants MUST call their landlord immediately then follow-up in writing. Tenants SHOULD NOT try to get rid of the bed bugs by applying chemicals, “bug bombs” or pesticides as these do not work and could make you, your family or neighbors sick. Once a tenant has notified the landlord, wait for additional instructions from the landlord and pest management
professional. Prompt notification and treatment will help prevent the further spread of bed bugs.

Should I dispose of bedding, clothing or other materials that may be infested?
Disposing of these items is probably not necessary unless directed by a pest management professional. If there are items than do need to be disposed of, do so carefully by sealing them in plastic bags so as to not spread bed bugs further. The ordinance prohibits the recycling of any bed bug infested materials and requires that any bed bug infested materials be totally enclosed in a plastic bag and labeled as being infested with bed bugs when disposed.

What should I do with any linens or clothes that may be infested?
• Wash all linen and other infested materials (including clothing) in hot water, then after drying the clothes, keep them in the dryer and dry for an additional 20 minutes on the highest setting.
• Put un-washable or “dry clean only” materials in the dryer on the highest setting for at least 20 minutes.
• If you have to launder in a common area of the building or at a laundromat, make sure all items are enclosed in a bag before leaving your apartment to prevent the further spread of bed bugs.
• Once all these materials are laundered and dried, seal them in clean bags so bed bugs can’t re-infest them.

What are my responsibilities as a tenant under this ordinance?
Tenants have two main responsibilities under this ordinance:
1) Notify your landlord within 5 days of suspecting a bed bug infestation;
2) Cooperate with the landlord by adhering to the following:
• Don’t interfere with an inspection or with a treatment.
• Grant access to your apartment for an inspection or a treatment.
• Make the necessary preparations, as instructed by your landlord or a pest management professional, prior to an inspection or a treatment.
• Dispose of any items that a pest management professional has determined can not be treated or cleaned.
• Enclose in a plastic bag any personal property that will be moved through any common area of the building, or stored in any other location.

Are there any exemptions to these tenant responsibilities?
Yes. The ordinance exempts tenants who live in an assisted living or shared housing establishment, or similar living arrangement, where the establishment is required to provide the tenant assistance with activities of daily living or mandatory services. In such cases, the landlord is responsible for making the necessary preparations and removing or disposing of any personal property.

What penalties can a tenant face for not complying with these requirements?
The ordinance allows the city to issue fines to tenants for not complying with these requirements. Fines can go as high as $2,000 for a third offense. Landlords can not fine tenants.

What are my rights as a tenant under this ordinance?
Landlords can’t retaliate against a tenant if the tenant:
• Complains of a bed bug infestation to a governmental agency elected representative or public official charged with responsibility for enforcement of a building, housing, health or similar code.
• Complains of a bed bug infestation to a community organization or to the news-media.
• Seeks the assistance of a community organization or the news-media to remedy a bed bug infestation.
• Asks the landlord to provide pest control measures.
• Testifies in court concerning any bed bug infestation.

What are my landlord’s responsibilities under this ordinance?
Click to download brochureLandlords have three main responsibilities under this ordinance:
1) Educate tenants about bed bugs by providing this brochure when tenants sign a new or renew an existing lease or other rental agreement;
2) Notify tenants prior to any inspection or treatment of their apartment for bed bugs and provide instructions for preparing the apartment.
3) Get rid of the beg bug infestation by providing pest control services by a pest management professional and paying for this service.

How much time does a landlord have to provide a pest management professional?
The ordinance allows landlords up to 10 days to have a pest management professional come to inspect your apartment.

Does the ordinance require any specific type of inspection or treatment?
If bed bugs are in an apartment, there is a chance they may be found in additional apartments in that same building, especially those closest to the apartment with the bed bugs. As a result, the apartments on either side and directly above and below the apartment with the bed bugs need to be inspected and if necessary, treated. Treatment will only occur if bed bugs are found.

Do these requirements apply to condominiums or cooperative building:
Yes, but only to units that are being rented.

What penalties can a landlord face for not complying with these requirements?
The ordinance allows the city to issue fines to landlords for not complying with these requirements. Fines can go as high as $2,000 for a third offense.

What should I do if my landlord is not responsive?
If you suspect there are bed bugs in your apartment, call your landlord immediately and follow-up in writing. Give your landlord up to 10 days to have a pest management professional come to inspect your apartment. If your landlord is not responsive, call 311 and file a complaint.

Additional information, including a copy of the ordinance, can be found at:
www.cityofchicago.org/health