The City of Chicago has recently been named the nation’s #1 city infested with bed bugs. Everyday MTO’s tenants’ rights hotline receives calls from renters throughout the City and suburbs dealing with the pesky pests. Bed bugs are not unique to Chicago. They are undoubtedly a nuisance and hard to control. Controlling bed bugs requires tenants and landlords working together.
On June 5, 2013, the City Council passed an ordinance aimed at putting an end to the spread of bed bugs. This ordinance will go into effect December 23, 2013. There are key components of the ordinance that all renters should know. Let’s start with landlord responsibilities:
- To supply a tenant starting or renewing a lease with an informational brochure
- To maintain a written record of bed bug control efforts
- To send a written notice to the tenant explaining their responsibilities before the inspection
- To provide pest control services when bed bugs are found by a pest management professional as many times as necessary to eliminate the problem
- To inspect within 10 days and treat if necessary the two units on either side as well as the two units above and below of the infested unit
The ordinance also outlines what tenants’ responsibilities are to help eliminate bed bugs. Please note that this section of the ordinance does not apply to tenants living in assisted living or a shared housing establishment, when the establishment provides assistance with daily living activities. According to the ordinance, tenant responsibilities include:
- To notify the landlord in writing of any suspected or known infestation in the tenants’ unit, clothing, furniture or personal property within 5 days
- To notify the landlord in writing of any recurring or unexplained bites, stings or sores suspected to be caused by bed bugs
- To cooperate with the landlord in the control, treatment, and eradication of bed bugs including
- To grant access at reasonable times upon reasonable notice for inspections and treatments/to not interfere
- To prepare unit prior to treatment including: cleaning, dusting, vacuuming
- To properly dispose of personal property that cannot be treated or cleaned before the pest control services
The Chicago Bed Bug Ordinance also mandates the disposal of bedding, clothing, furnishings or other infested materials. For example, you may not place, discard or dispose of any bedding, clothing or furnishings infested on the public way (i.e. dumpsters, sidewalks, hallways). To get rid of infested items, you must enclose the item in a plastic bag and label it as infested. Doing so should prevent neighbors from bringing to their home infested items, therefore stalling the spread of bed bugs.
The ordinance will be enforced by the Department of Buildings and the Department of Public Health. If any person is found violating the ordinance, that person may be fined $300.00 to $1,000 per day for each offense. By complying with the ordinance, these fees can be avoided. The full ordinance can be found at www.cityofchicago.org. You can make a request for a City inspector here.