69-year-old Faika Shaaban began her long fight against bed bugs when she moved into her Annapolis apartment in the fall of 2011. She feared the worst when she developed hundreds of bites along her body, resulting in lesions and scarring. It was not until later that she found out that the bites were from the bed bugs in her newly rented apartment and that the landlord had been notified of a potential bed bug infestation just weeks before her move.
This case is only one of many bed bug suits all across the country, demonstrating that jurors are getting tough on landlords, ensuring that they deal with known bed bug infestations. The results of a bed bug infestation can be extremely costly as infestations are aggressive, contaminating your home, furniture, and clothing.
While landlords do not cause the infestation, they are burdened with fixing the problem for tenants. Because of this, many landlords attempt to shift the burden onto the tenant with lease terms stating that if the bed bugs do not appear before or soon after the tenant has occupied the residence, the tenant is responsible for dealing with the infestation. Some leases state that if the landlord can prove that it was the tenant who brought the bed bugs, the landlord has grounds to terminate the lease and evict the tenant. Landlords are also increasingly encouraging tenants to purchase renters' insurance for their property in case of a bed bug infestation.
In the Shaaban case, it was found that the infestation had not been handled and that the landlord ignored complaints of bed bugs from other tenants. As the landlord attempted to amend the infestation, the infestation actually grew and much of Shaaban's personal property was damaged. When Shaaban finally rid her apartment of the infested property onto the curb outside her house, scavengers came to claim the belongings, ignoring the signs for them not to do so, thus, spreading the infestation further. As a result of the above, a verdict of $800,000 was obtained by Whitney, LLP.