"Help! I have bedbugs in my apartment!"

If you think you have bedbugs:

  1. Write a letter to your landlord right away;
  2. Put the date in the letter;
  3. Tell him about the bedbugs, and ask him to hire a licensed exterminator to inspect and treat your home right away;
  4. Keep a copy of your letter.

Next, call the Board of Health for your town and get an inspection. The Board of Health may need to inspect neighboring apartments and stop the bedbugs from spreading further. The Board of Health will write a report documenting the bed bugs. They will cite the landlord and order fumigation.

You may want to research signs of bedbug infestation and point them out to the inspector if he doesn't see anything on his own.

If the landlord is not fixing the bedbug infestation, you have the right to stop paying your rent until the problem is fixed. You should save the rent in the bank. See Getting Repairs made and the section on withholding rent in the article Options If Your Landlord Refuses to Make Repairs for more information on keeping your rent until the bedbug problem is fixed.

If there are dirty or cluttered conditions in your home which are contributing to the infestation, the Board of Health may also cite you. This does not happen often, however.

It is very important to call the Board of Health as soon as you see bedbugs. Later on, if you have to go to court, a judge might not believe you about the date you first saw bedbugs, especially if the landlord disagrees with you and tells the judge a different story. But a judge will always believe the inspector if the dated inspection report said you had bedbugs.

Produced by Massachusetts Justice Project
Created September 2010

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