Who pays for bed bugs?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's one of the worst type of infestations you can have... Bed bugs! They bite and they're hard to kill.  But to make matters worse, if you rent a house or apartment and have bed bugs, it raises the question, who pays to get to rid of them?

For months Mike Colbert suffered in silence.  His one bedroom apartment at Grace Place, at 4th and Grace is infested with bed bugs. But he didn't tell anybody. He couldn't.  Mike is a deaf-mute.

His best friend, Robert Dunham, rushed him to the emergency room at MCV, for treatment and notified the landlord. Soon after a letter arrived announcing that the carpets would be pulled up and the exterminators will be going through the entire building. But there's a catch - each tenant must pay $300.

"All these people who live in this building are on low income.  Even with the ability to pay for it a little bit at a time - it's a financial hardship for them", said Dunham.

There's no guarantee that it'll work. There's been one extermination treatment already and  there are still bed bugs. Mike has to move everything off the carpet so they can pull it up. The exterminators come in two days. He and his friends are hoping that this time, it'll work.

"They have sprayed once already and apparently did not get all the bed bugs.  Now they're gonna do what they should have done to begin with  and that's take the carpeting out and do a thorough extermination," said Dunham.

Legal experts say Mike has legal recourse. According to the landlord tenant, Mike could face higher rent, but he shouldn't be stuck with extermination fees.

"The owner can get additional funding from HUD to take care of it, the owner can raise rent to take care of it, but it is the owner's responsibility - period, paragraph, end of story," said Marty Wegbreit, Central Virginia Legal Aid.

If you'd like more information on tenant rights - you can call legal aide.  The toll free number is 1-800-868-1012.

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