Who's responsible for rental property bed bug infestations? Unicam wants to add clarity

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Bed bugs are a problem no one ever wants to combat. But for Nebraska renters affected by bed bugs, there is no clear direction on who is responsible: Is it the landlord or the tenant?

Police said someone released bugs in a men's changing room. / (MGN)

A proposed state bill could create some clarity.

Tackling bed bugs is tough and pricey. There are bed bug traps that slide under a cushion or bed to indicate the possibility of an infestation.

LB-864 would create a reporting process for tenants in Nebraska and force landlords to act quickly, forcing them to respond to bed bug complaints within four days.

Landlords have questions.

"The vast majority of the time, the bed bug is brought in by tenants,” said Dennis Tierney, a private landlord.

Tierney said that every time he has an empty unit, he makes sure there are no bed bugs before he rents out again. It's a preventative step that would keep him out of trouble should the bill pass, but he still has concerns.

“With this law — we have no idea how much it would cost," he said. "This additional regulation on a small business person that is the typical landlord.”

Tierney said that if a unit is infected, the cost would most likely be charged to the tenant.

Hannah Wyble, who works with impoverished refugees, is neutral on the issue. She said those costs don't come cheap.

“The cost of professional bed bug mattress covers. The cost of having to get rid of furniture and replace it. There are a lot of costs associated,” Wyble said.

The bed bug problem is not just at home.

“This past year, I received numerous calls and emails from teachers who are worried because students in their classes have bed bugs, and they have found bed bugs crawling out of backpacks,” Wyble said.

If the bill passes, landlords would only be on the clock if the tenants first report a bed bug issue in a timely manner.