Last year, the City of Chicago took a big step towards addressing the growing bed bug problem with the passage of an ordinance clarifying landlord/tenant responsibilities in the case of bed bug infestations. Under this new ordinance, renters are now required to notify their landlord in writing within 5 days of seeing, or suspecting, bed bugs in their unit, clothing, furniture or other personal property located in the building or of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings, irritation, sores of the skin or body which the tenant reasonably suspects is caused by bed bugs.
Once the landlord has received this notice or has observed or suspects bed bugs, the landlord must begin pest control services within 10 days. Pest control services consist of hiring a pest management professional to conduct an inspection, to treat the affected unit, and if necessary to treat the units on both sides and directly above and below. The landlord is to continue to treat the infestation in this manner until it has been resolved. Prior to an inspection of a renter’s unit, the landlord must give a written notice to the renter advising the renter of his/her responsibilities to prepare the unit for treatment.
The ordinance also imposes fines for non-compliance. Therefore, it is important that renters notify their landlords in writing right away if they suspect or see any bed bugs and cooperate with the landlord by allowing access and preparing the unit for extermination and disposing of any personal property that is untreatable. Renters needing assistance or reasonable accommodations should contact their landlord. If a tenant lives in an assisted living facility or shared housing establishment, or similar living arrangement, when the establishment is required to provide the tenant assistance with activities of daily living or mandatory services, the landlord is responsible for preparing the unit.
In collaboration with community partners, LCBH staff attorneys have prepared a sample bed bug infestation notice and instructions for use. If you suspect your unit has bed bugs, it is very important to read the instructions before sending the letter to your landlord. All renters are protected under the bed bug ordinance, but the individual remedies, such as reducing your rent, are only available in certain limited situations. Renters should consult an attorney before including any rent reductions in a bed bug infestation notice.