Assembly Bill 551, which came into effect July 2017 and January 1, 2018 respectively, set forth new guidelines for bed bugs as a result of an increase in bed bug litigation in recent years and Los Angeles/San Francisco being ranked the highest cities for bed bug treatment.
Bed bugs are difficult to treat and can even move from unit to unit. California leases have an implied warranty of habitability with landlords being required to maintain a livable condition for each unit, including keeping it free from vermin and rodents. Bed bugs may cause itchy red welts and other harms to the person and must be treated.
As part of AB 551, landlords must provide literature (lease addendum) on bed bugs; may not show units for rent where there is an active infestation; and most notably, a landlord may not retaliate against a tenant who has reported an infestation by trying to evict them.
Further, Ca Civil Code 1954.603 reads that landlords must disclose bed bugs to existing tenants beginning January 1, 2018. The section reads in pertinent part that:
The notice shall be in at least 10-point type and shall include, but is not limited to, the following:
(a) General information about bed bug identification, behavior and biology, the importance of cooperation for prevention and treatment, and the importance of and for prompt written reporting of suspected infestations to the landlord. The information shall be in substantially the following form:
Information about Bed Bugs
Bed bug Appearance: Bed bugs have six legs. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about 1/4 of an inch in length. Their color can vary from red and brown to copper colored. Young bed bugs are very small. Their bodies are about 1/16 of an inch in length. They have almost no color. When a bed bug feeds, its body swells, may lengthen, and becomes bright red, sometimes making it appear to be a different insect. Bed bugs do not fly. They can either crawl or be carried from place to place on objects, people, or animals. Bed bugs can be hard to find and identify because they are tiny and try to stay hidden.
Life Cycle and Reproduction: An average bed bug lives for about 10 months. Female bed bugs lay one to five eggs per day. Bed bugs grow to full adulthood in about 21 days.
Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding.
Bed bug Bites: Because bed bugs usually feed at night, most people are bitten in their sleep and do not realize they were bitten. A person's reaction to insect bites is an immune response and so varies from person to person. Sometimes the red welts caused by the bites will not be noticed until many days after a person was bitten, if at all.
Common signs and symptoms of a possible bed bug infestation:
• Small red to reddish brown fecal spots on mattresses, box springs, bed frames, mattresses, linens, upholstery, or walls.
• Molted bed bug skins, white, sticky eggs, or empty eggshells.
• Very heavily infested areas may have a characteristically sweet odor.
• Red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms, and other body parts exposed while sleeping. However, some people do not show bed bug lesions on their bodies even though bed bugs may have fed on them.
For more information, see the Internet Web sites of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Pest Management Association.
(b) The procedure to report suspected infestations to the landlord.
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