Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite…

There are many theories behind this well known phrase, one suggesting that the saying dates back to the days when mattresses were supported by ropes needed to be pulled tight to provide a well-sprung bed. However, the ‘don’t let the bedbugs bite’ part has some suggesting that the ‘tight’ refers to the tightness of bed-clothes, intended to prevent bedbugs from biting. Those who had any experience with bed bugs know that they mainly live in mattresses, and tying bed-clothes tightly would not stop bed bugs from biting. Either way, the news is that bed bugs are back!

Bed bug infestations used to be a common problem thought to have been eradicated in the 1940s. In case anyone is wondering why the bed bugs are so undesirable, it is because they bite as they feed on blood, and they are extremely hard to exterminate. In addition to mattresses, bed bugs can live in tiny cracks in furniture, as well as on textiles, upholstered furniture, and cracks in wallpaper. They can live for months without feeding.

So if you are a tenant and your apartment is infested with bed bugs – you have a big problem! When bed bugs invade your apartment, who is responsible for the cost of extermination? You would think that the apartment owner would shoulder the responsibility and financial expense of providing pest-free housing. The problem is that the law is not necessarily that clear, often pitting landlords against tenants. This Thursday, for example, a NJ State Appeals Court ruled that the landlords are not necessarily liable just because an apartment has bed bugs. 

The Court said in an unpublished opinion that while it was a fact that a one-bedroom apartment was indeed infested with bed bugs, there was no evidence of an ongoing problem in the 800-unit, 17-building Kensington Gardens complex in Fords (Mitchell v. Capitol Management Corp., A-5068-08). Thus, the unfortunate Mrs. Mitchell was not able to prove that the landlord was negligent. A two-year old testimony about a previous infestation issue in the apartment directly below was not deemed sufficient to impute knowledge to the landlord of an infestation that needed to be addressed.

About teperlaw

I am an attorney practicing family law, immigration and wills and estate planning. You can find out more about me and my firm by visiting my website at: 106 W. Franklin Ave. Pennington, NJ 08534 (609) 737-3030
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