Housing

Bedbugs

Under Arizona law, the presence of bedbugs in a hotel or other place where sleeping accommodations are offered to the public is considered to be a public nuisance which is dangerous to the public health. Any person who maintains such a nuisance will be served with an order requiring that they remove the bedbugs immediately (A.R.S. § 36-601(A)).

Does this same standard apply to residential landlords?

No. In fact, Arizona law expressly prohibits cities and towns from requiring residential landlords to remove or in any other way control the bedbugs in their buildings (A.R.S. § 9-500.31). This rule also applies to counties (A.R.S. § 11-269.11).

The Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act addresses the issue of bedbugs at A.R.S. § 33-1319.

What are a landlord’s obligations regarding bedbugs?

Under A.R.S. § 33-1319(A), a residential landlord has the following obligations with respect to a bedbug infestation:

  1. The landlord shall provide bedbug educational materials to existing and new tenants.

Educational materials may include:

(a) A description of measures that may be taken to prevent and control bedbugs.

(b) Information about bedbugs, including a description of their appearance.

(c) A description of behaviors that are risk factors for attracting bedbugs such as purchasing renovated mattresses, using discarded mattresses and furniture, using used or leased furniture, purchasing pre-owned clothing and traveling without proper precautions.

(d) Information provided by the United States centers for disease control and prevention and other federal, state or local health agencies.

(e) Information provided by federal, state or local housing agencies.

(f) Information provided by nonprofit housing organizations.

(g) Information developed by the landlord.

  1. The landlord shall not enter into any lease agreement with a tenant for a dwelling unit that the landlord knows to have a current bedbug infestation.

(An “infestation” refers to the presence of bedbugs in sufficient numbers to materially affect the health and safety of tenants and their guests.)

What are a tenant’s obligations regarding bedbugs?

Under A.R.S. § 33-1319(B), a residential tenant has the following obligations with respect to a bedbug infestation:

  1. The tenant shall not knowingly move materials into a dwelling unit that are infested with bedbugs.
  2. A tenant who knows of the presence of bedbugs shall provide the landlord written or electronic notification of the presence of bedbugs.

Do these specific obligations apply to a single family residence?

No. A.R.S. § 33-1319(D) expressly states that the specific obligations regarding bedbugs described above do not apply to the landlord or the tenant of a single family residence.

May a tenant sue a landlord solely on the basis of A.R.S § 33-1319 for damages caused by bedbugs?

No. A.R.S. § 33-1319(E) expressly states that they may not.

Do landlords have any other recourse?

Yes. A.R.S. § 33-1319(C) expressly states that all the general rights, remedies, and obligations that landlords have under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act still apply – including those described in A.R.S. § 33-1341 (such as the requirements that a tenant “keep that part of the premises that he occupies and uses as clean and safe as the condition of the premises permit” and “conduct himself and require other persons on the premises with his consent to conduct themselves in a manner that will not disturb his neighbors' peaceful enjoyment of the premises”).

May a landlord sue a tenant solely on the basis A.R.S. 33-1319 for damages caused by bedbugs under?

No. A.R.S. § 33-1319(E) expressly says that they may not.

Do tenants have any other recourse?

Yes. A.R.S. § 33-1319(C) expressly states that all the general rights, remedies, and obligations that landlords have under the Arizona Residential Landlord and Tenant Act still apply – including those described in A.R.S. § 33-1324 (such as the requirement that a landlord “make all repairs and do whatever is necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition”).

Sources and further reading

Arizona Department of Agriculture – “Bed Bugs”: https://agriculture.az.gov/pests-pest-control/household-pests/bed-bugs

Arizona Department of Economic Security – “Health Information Fact Sheet: Bedbugs”: https://des.az.gov/sites/default/files/qafs_bedbugs_13.pdf

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 33-1319: https://www.azleg.gov/ars/33/01319.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – “Bed Bugs”: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs

Federal Trade Commission – “Battling Bed Bugs”: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0139-battling-bed-bugs

United States Environmental Protection Agency – “Bed Bugs: Get Them Out and Keep Them Out”: https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs

 

 

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