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Delaware Senate Democrats

Legislation prohibiting landlord’s ability to rent units with bed bug infestations passes the Senate

May 3, 2022

DOVER — The Delaware State Senate unanimously passed legislation today that both prohibits landlords from renting units with known bed-bug infestations and spells out the requirements that landlords must follow when an infestation is discovered.

Introduced in April, Senate Substitute 1 for Senate Bill 240 requires landlords to eradicate any bed bugs that have been discovered within 60 days of initial occupancy. Furthermore, this legislation requires landlords to have their rental units inspected for bed bugs within 120 hours of receiving a complaint from a tenant and provide pest management services within 14 days. Landlords also would be required to inspect adjoining units, notify tenants of the findings and provide remediation where needed.

Finally, this bill also directs landlords to maintain written records of previous bed bug infestations, complaints, and remediation efforts for the previous two years.

“This legislation is about tenants’ rights,” said Sen. Sturgeon, D-Brandywine Hundred. “Landlords must ensure that every unit they rent out is safe and livable for tenants, which includes the guarantee that there are no bed bugs on the premises. I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate for passing this legislation today to provide an added layer of safety and security to tenants when these incidents occur.”

While bed bugs are not known to carry disease, they can be very disruptive to quality of life. Bed bugs are often spread unknowingly on furniture as well as clothes, luggage, and other objects that travel outside of the home, which allows them to spread easily from home to home. They can cause skin irritation from their bites, and cannot be eradicated effectively with over-the-counter products.

Moreover, bed bug remediation can be a lengthy and expensive process. Once bedbugs are introduced to an environment, they often inhabit difficult-to-reach places, including wall sockets and bed frames. Bed bugs are also largely resistant to common pesticides and pest-control practices, meaning removal is not only expensive but also requires specialized exterminators. Bed bug infestations in multi-unit complexes can be tricky to eradicate because their spread throughout a building largely goes undetected.

Other states, including New Hampshire and Connecticut, have taken direct legislative action to hold landlords accountable on bed bug remediation.

SS 1 for SB 240 now heads to the House for consideration.

“A bedbug infestation is a serious, persistent issue that causes health and quality of life problems for residents. Left untreated or under-treated, especially in apartment buildings, bedbugs will spread and cause problems for other residents. They will return repeatedly until properly eradicated,” said Rep. Kendra Johnson, D-Bear, the bill’s lead House sponsor. “Setting a minimum standard and expectation of treatment for infestations and establishing notification requirements are basic protections that tenants should expect and deserve. No one should have to live in a situation where their quality of life is jeopardized by something that is preventable and treatable, and that is what we are doing with this bill. I look forward to passing this bill in the House.”