January 8, 2019 | Press Release

Bedbug Control Act

Bedbug Control Act of 2019

  • Introduced by Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau in January 2019.
  • Requires landlords to provide notice of an infestation to tenants sharing party walls, floors and ceilings with the infested unit.
  • Requires owners to furnish each tenant signing or renewing a lease with a notice of the 12-month history of infestation before signing a lease and provide information about the prevention, detection and removal of bedbugs and other insect infestations.
  • Requires landlords and pest control operators to report to DCRA any outbreak of infestations.
  • Allows DCRA to inspect any dwelling where there is a sworn statement by a licensed exterminator of a likely suspicion of an infestation after repeated infestations of a property sharing a party wall.
  • Creates a fund to assist qualifying homeowners with the costs of abating bedbugs. 

Current laws don’t fully protect homeowners and tenants

  • There is no way for occupants living in units or property adjoining an infestation to be aware of the potential threat that can spread to their property.
  • There is no way for anyone to find out if there is an infestation in their unit before they rent unless they submit a FOIA request to DCRA or ask potential neighbors (who might not be aware of past infestations).
  • There is no legal authority for DCRA or DOH to investigate private residences suspected of harboring bedbug infestations.

Who will this bill help?

  • Tenants who need notice to prevent bedbugs from spreading.
  • Potential tenants who should know their apartment’s history.
  • Homeowners who need assistance abating the infestation or to address infestation in adjoining property.
  • Washingtonians, who will see reduced overall infestation.

Prevalence of bedbugs in the District

  • In 2018, DC was ranked the 2nd worst city in the nation for bedbug infestations. 
  • Bedbugs are small blood sucking parasites that feed off us while we sleep. 
  • They tend to cluster within 8 feet of where we sleep, in mattresses, bedframes, headboards, dressers, wallpaper or clutter.
  • Their bites leave raised welts, often in groupings.
  • Unlike cockroaches, ants, rats or flies, that feed on filth, bedbugs only need a body.
  • Bedbug infestations can happen anywhere since they attach to things – clothes, shoes and furniture – and they can live between feedings for five months or longer.
  • Bedbugs pose a significant threat to public health according to the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency because they cause physical harm through their bites which can cause some to have allergic reactions or become infected due to scratching. 
  • Single dwelling harboring of bedbugs in one rowhouse or apartment can lead to block-wide or apartment-wide infestations.