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Bills to deal with bedbug problems proposed in Michigan

Disputes between Michigan landlords and their tenants centered around bedbugs have been a more frequent media occurrence of late. Landlords want to protect their investments but also have to balance that with respecting the rights of their tenants. Current Michigan law does not mention bedbugs, which are becoming a presence in both residential buildings as well as public buildings like schools, hospitals and libraries.

In addition to defining the responsibilities of tenants and landlords in cases involving bedbugs, the bills would also make it possible for health departments to order property owners to take care of bedbug infestations. It would also allow for the development of a policy for the management, control and prevention of the insects.

House Bill 5199 would make it so that tenants had to notify landlords in writing of any bedbug infestations and grant the proper people access to the apartment so that the problem could be dealt with. Landlords would also have clearly defined responsibilities, including responding to infestation notifications within five business days and not being able to rent a unit that has bedbugs. The bill does not put the cost of the bedbug removal on one of the parties, however, and instead allows for that to be detailed in individual residential lease agreements.

The bills have yet to be voted on, but even the proposal of the bills suggests that the issue is getting serious enough to warrant statewide legislation. Commercial property owners dealing with bedbugs can incur significant costs, and the buildings can sustain damage as well. If the bills are passed, it would increase the chances of landlords being informed of possible infestations in a timely manner so that they can be dealt with as quickly as possible.

Source: mlive, "Don't let the bedbugs bite: Michigan bills define landlord, tenant roles in eradicating pests" Melissa Anders, May. 07, 2014

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