When it comes to figuring out whether the landlord or the tenant is responsible for bedbug invasions and who should cover the costs for exterminating them, matters often grow heated to say the least. Because bedbugs are a recent problem in Canada, a lot of provinces and municipalities do not currently have legislation dictating who is responsible for extermination and ridding the rental premises of bedbugs. As it stands now, tenants usually go before a landlord-tenant arbitrator with their case and it is then up to the arbitrator to decide where the bedbugs originated to assess who is the responsible party. This is extremely difficult to prove and usually becomes a subjective decision by the arbitrator.
Information regarding local arbitrators may be found at: http://www.adrcanada.ca/about/contact.cfm Below are summaries for each province regarding how bedbug infestations are handled:
Alberta: Regulations regarding the public health and housing act state that it is the responsibility of the tenant to report any bedbug incidents to their landlord. The landlord must then hire a professional exterminator that is approved by Alberta Environment Public Health office. Landlords or tenants may contact their local Public Health Office with questions:
Edmonton Main Office: (780) 735-1800
Calgary Main Office: (403) 943-2295
Lethbridge Main Office: (403) 388-6689
Grande Prairie Main Office: (780) 513-7517
Red Deer Main Office: (403) 356-6366
British Columbia: In British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Act, it is the stated responsibility of the landlord to deliver a healthy and safe apartment dwelling at the time the rental agreement is signed. Although it does not specifically mention bedbugs, there is a by-law with regard to health in Vancouver that says the landlord is obliged to exterminate bedbugs. Bedbug infestations are handled by British Columbia’s health authorities who work with local governments, healthcare providers, building owners and individuals to provide information and reinforcement in the extermination of bedbugs. Vancouver Coastal Health and the Vancouver Island Health Authority have helpful information on bedbugs on their websites.
Manitoba: Although there are no laws specific to bedbugs in Manitoba, there is a section of municipal by-laws that cover other parts of pest control. In general, it is the responsibility of landlords to get rid of any and all pest problems, including rats, roaches, and ants. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the tenant to keep the rental property clean and orderly.
New Brunswick: Currently New Brunswick does not have any legislation in place that pertains to bedbugs, but rental disputes in New Brunswick are governed by the Office of the Rentalsman, including tenant bedbug cases. The Rentalsman will demand that the landlord pay for the extermination of the bedbugs if the tenant can prove that they are not responsible for the infestation. Information on how to contact the New Brunswick Office of the Rentalsman.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Tenants and landlords who are experiencing a bedbug problem are told to work out a resolution themselves. If neither party can come up with a mutually agreeable solution, they are told to go to mediation. Mediation is overseen by a residential tenancy branch, and more information can be found at: http://www.servicenl.gov.nl.ca/landlord/residential_tenancies.html.
Nova Scotia: Halifax does not have any definitive laws regarding bedbugs. If the landlord can prove the tenant brought the bedbugs in, the tenant is then responsible for having them exterminated. However, because this is so difficult to prove, many landlords end up covering the costs of the extermination themselves. It is the responsibility of the tenant to write the landlord a letter requesting extermination within a reasonable timeframe from the bedbug discovery. Should the landlord refuse servicing the problem, the tenant can request a hearing at the Office of Residential Tendencies.
Ontario: Although there is no current legislation regarding bedbugs, the Ontario’s Tenant-Landlord Act clearly states that it is the tenant’s responsibility to keep their home “orderly and clean,” and it is the responsibility of the landlord to keep their property “healthy and safe.” Because there is no specific bedbug law enacted currently, the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board usually recommends that landlords pay for bedbug extermination. Contact information regarding the dispute resolution may be found at: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/
Prince Edward Island: All landlord-tenant disputes involving bedbugs are overseen by the Director of Residential Property. At time of publication, the present Director is Cathy Flanagan, who may be reached at:
Director of Residential Rental Property
Quebec: In Quebec, the burden of proof is on the tenant to prove that it is the landlord’s fault that bedbugs infested the rental property, if they wish the landlord to pay the costs of bedbug extermination. However, it is the duty of the landlord to make sure the infestation does not get worse.
Saskatchewan: There are no clauses in the landlord-tenant act to specify whether the landlord or tenant is responsible for bedbug infestations. Each case is brought before a hearing with an arbitrator, and if the tenant can prove the bedbugs had already infested the leased premises before they signed the rental agreement, the landlord will be directed to pay for the extermination.
Bedbugs are extremely resilient and difficult to eliminate. Getting rid of them can be stressful and expensive, so when the landlord and tenant can cooperate to eradicate them, the extermination is usually much smoother. Landlords should discuss bedbugs and other pest control issues with their tenants up front, and address them specifically in the rental agreement, so as to avoid any misunderstandings.