Bedbugs (Part 1): 5 Key Things to Consider to Reduce the Risk of an Infestation

We are hearing more and more about the risks of bedbug infestations. These risks are of particular concern in condominiums (and other “close communities”), because of the risk that an infestation can travel between residences. Here are 5 key things to consider in order to reduce the risk of an infestation:

  1. Depending upon the circumstances, the resident with the infestation may or may not be responsible. In general, we recommend that bedbug issues be treated as impersonally as possible – in order to avoid any embarrassment or shame that might delay a call for assistance.
  2. Consider sending a notice to residents and off site owners about:
    • the risk of bedbugs in a unit;
    • what bedbugs look like;
    • how bedbugs occur;
    • what to look for in their unit;
    • how often they should inspect their units;
    • any obligation pursuant to your condominium corporation’s rules to avoid the infestation of pests in the unit;
    • what steps they must immediately take to: (a) contain the infestation and prevent it from spreading to the common elements or other units, and (b) report an occurrence of bedbugs to the corporation;
    • state any consequences of not reporting bedbugs in a unit to the condominium corporation in a timely manner;
    • responsibility for the cost of treatment in a unit.
  3. Once an infestation is discovered, action must be taken quickly in an attempt to avoid the spread to other units and/or the common elements. If the unit is tenanted, be sure to communicate directly with the owner of a unit, in addition to the residents, since recovery of costs is typically against the unit owner, and they must be warned of the risks and kept informed of the problems in the unit.
  4. The board of directors and management could consider making a plan of action in advance of an infestation being discovered, in order to be able to act quickly, to address the following issues:
    1. What preventative steps will the condominium corporation take to warn residents of the risks of bedbugs?
    2. Will the condominium corporation arrange for treatment of a unit, or will owners initially be expected to eradicate an infestation in their unit? How will the cost of treatment be dealt with (keeping in mind the owners’ obligations under your declaration and rules, as well as their obligation to maintain and repair their unit)?
    3. What service providers will be used and what treatment options are available?
  5. The condominium corporation is typically responsible for the maintenance and repair of the common elements. Therefore, occasional inspections of the common element areas – including furniture, curtains, area rugs, carpets, around baseboards, and cracks in walls or other holes – are normally prudent, and might in some cases reveal the presence of bedbugs that have traveled from a nearby residence.