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More than 100 million citizens of the United States are currently living within rental properties, and a surprising number of these rental properties are infested with insects right now. Experiencing an insect infestation can be a stressful experience for a tenant of a rental property, as some landlords are reluctant to hire a professional to address infestations on their property when they occur. In some cases, a tenant may be ultimately responsible for an insect pest problem that occurs within his/her rental home. For example, some insect infestations occur as a consequence of keeping unsanitary living conditions, but other insect infestations result from factors that are beyond a tenant’s control. Termite and bed bug infestations often occur in rental homes that are well-maintained by tenants, and this is the case for most insect infestations. Most reasonable people would agree that such infestations should not be addressed at the tenant’s expense, but each state has laws that specifically address which party is responsible for maintaining an insect-free rental home.

In highly populated cities like Boston, the average monthly price-rate for a rental property, and the average number of citywide bed bug infestation cases, are both relatively high, so it is not surprising that pest control professionals in big cities have no problem finding work. Massachusetts law states that “occupants” of one room dwellings are responsible for using their own resources to eradicate insect pest infestations, and this is the case whether the “occupant” is the owner or the tenant of an infested property. However, if the rental property is categorized as a “rooming house”, then the owner is responsible for addressing insect pest infestations no matter how many rooms the property contains. “Rooming houses” are homes that are rented out temporarily, rather than on a month-to-month basis. When it comes to insect infestations within Massachusetts rental properties that contain more than one room, the owner is responsible for having the pests exterminated. Although tenant-landlord laws in Massachusetts clearly state which party is responsible for maintaining pest-free rental homes, legal disputes of this kind are common in the state

Have you ever lived within an insect-infested rental home?