A landlord recently contacted HousingLink with this dilemma:
"I have tenants that still have 6 months left on their lease. Since they moved in, bed bugs have infested the unit 3 times! This unit never had bed bugs before.
Each time we used a professional pest control company to use heat treatment. The company also did a follow up inspection a month after to confirm it worked.
I would like to avoid the expense and complication of eviction (and another bed bug problem), but still have the tenants move out before the lease is up. Here is what I am considering:
A "cash for keys" arrangement where the tenancy is mutually terminated, and I give them their security deposit back plus $600 (their rent amount) to encourage them to find another place to live."
Your turn! What would you do if you were this landlord? Here were some of your answers:
"Add an addendum to the lease that limits the amount you pay for pest control."
"It is probably not three separate problems, but failure to eradicate the bugs entirely. They are very difficult to get rid of, even with professional help. Sometimes using a month-to-month lease is the best way to go."
"I recently had bed bugs in one of my rentals so this hit home to me! Here's how I handled it:
In my lease it states that if a tenant brings bed bugs into the residence that they are responsible for removing them. I also have a clause in my lease that used furniture cannot be brought into the unit (I do make exceptions for furniture from relatives).
So when my tenant reported potential bed bugs I found a place that would bring out a dog to verify the existence of bed bugs for $75. My tenant paid for this.
The treatment was a little over $1,000 and my tenant doesn't have a lot of extra money. My tenant suggested that he wait a month or two so he could save up and pay for the treatment.
Since this could spread I suggested the following: I pay the $1,000 and my tenant pays me and= additional $333/month for the next 3 months and we get this taken care of immediately. My tenant was very happy with this arrangement. We're in month 2 now and I have gotten 2/3 of my money back. So far bed bug free!"
"Under the ‘cash for keys' proposal, there is no guarantee the tenants will move when mutually agreed upon, if they move at all. Also, ‘promises’ to move might go on for some time, and the tenants could still claim they’re entitled to their security deposit.
However, if you think the tenants are trustworthy, draw up the agreement, covering all your bases. Include a clause that states if they haven’t moved by the agreed upon date, they will not get their security deposit back, and no $600 incentive either."