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Q&A: Responsibility for Bed Bugs?

Who is legally responsible for A) coordinating the treating for and B) paying for the said treating, in regard to bed bugs in a condominium unit? If one of the condo units is rented out to a tenant by the unit owner, does that affect things? Once the bugs spread, does that alter anything? If the unit owner is responsible for paying, can the association coordinate and require professional treatment? Or is it only if the owner fails to act within a certain time?

—Pest Control in Peoria

“The answer lies in your particular association's documents (the condo declaration, bylaws and rules & regulations),” according to Attorney Jeanne M. Miller of the Law Offices of Jeanne M. Miller, LLC in McHenry, Illinois. “Generally, however, the unit owner is responsible for all interior issues, and the Association is responsible for all common elements or exterior issues. Thus, the unit owner would be responsible for extermination of bed bugs since that is an "interior" issue. If the bed bugs spread to other units, the initiating unit owner could be held responsible if it can be proven that was the source of the bed bugs. The association can coordinate and require professional treatment at the expense of the initiating unit owner. If the bed bugs were brought to the initiating unit by a tenant, the unit owner should be able to make the tenant liable for the expense of an exterminator, depending on the lease provisions. The written documents (the association documents and the lease) are the first place to look for an exception to the general rules, but if such written documents are silent on the issue, the above general rules would most likely apply.”        

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