Do you think you have bedbugs? Bedbugs are a common problem in Vermont. It’s important to act quickly to keep any infestation from becoming worse.
How can I tell if it is a bedbug?
- Visit the Healthy Communities website on bedbugs
- Watch this CVOEO video about bedbugs
- Read the EPA fact sheet on bedbugs
- Ask your Town Health Officer
- If you take a clear photo of the bug and put a penny next to it for scale, the Vermont State Entomologist may be able to tell you if it is a bedbug. Call them at 802-828-2430.
Who do I tell?
- Talk to your neighbors right away. Tell them to check for bedbugs. Ask them to let you know if they find them. Give them the link to this web page so they can learn more.
- You can call the Town Health Officer and ask for an inspection of your building to confirm whether they are bedbugs and determine if there may be bedbugs in other areas of the building. The Town Health Officer will tell your landlord about their inspection.
- In an ideal world, tenants should work with their landlord to get rid of bedbugs quickly and thoroughly right from the first bedbug they find. Landlords and tenants working together have the best chance to eliminate bedbugs from a building. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. If the bedbugs are only in your unit, or if it is clear they started in your unit, you, the tenant could potentially be liable for the costs to get rid of the bedbugs. That can be a lot of money, and for this reason, unfortunately, a lot of people choose not to report to their landlord; choose to try to get rid of the bugs on their own; or choose to move (and hope not to bring the bedbugs with them). If you know that the bedbugs are in more than one unit in the building, give written notice to the landlord about the bedbugs, as it is no longer your responsibility to exterminate. If the bedbugs are only in your unit, consider what your relationship is like with the landlord and how the landlord is likely to react. Then decide whether or not to involve the landlord.
- If the bedbugs are in more than one rental unit, every unit that has bedbugs should report them to the landlord in writing. See the “Steps to get repairs” section of our Repair Problems page for instructions and a sample letter.
Who is responsible for getting rid of the bedbugs?
If the bedbugs are in your rental unit only, you are responsible for extermination. Extermination means to take steps to get rid of all the bedbugs.
If the bedbugs are in two or more units, or the infestation is because the landlord did not maintain the unit (like the bedbugs were there before you moved in), the landlord is responsible for extermination.
Anyone who exterminates bedbugs in someone else’s home is supposed to be certified by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture. This includes landlords using pesticides in tenants’ homes. If you have questions or concerns about an extermination in your home, call the Vermont Department of Agriculture at 802-461-7160.
If a landlord contracts for services with a professional pest control applicator, then the applicator is required to leave an invoice with the landlord with:
- the trade name of the pesticide
- EPA registration number
- amount used
- pest treated for, and
- name/signature of applicator.
As a tenant, you should ask for a product label and Safety Data Sheet to understand what types of chemicals are being used and what is needed to stay safe.
If the bedbugs are only in your unit, you are responsible for extermination. Treatment by a qualified pest control professional can be very expensive. The new Vermont Emergency Rental Assistance Program (VERAP) may offer financial help to pay for treatment, if you meet certain eligibility requirements. Eligible tenants could get money to address unhealthy housing conditions. If you bring in a professional to exterminate, they may need to tell the landlord in order to do work in the building.
Things you can do
A qualified pest control professional is the best way to exterminate the bedbugs. You can also take physical control measures before and after treatment. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends these steps:
- Vacuuming reduces bedbug populations. Clean and vacuum bedbug-prone areas daily. Immediately seal and dispose of vacuum bag outside your unit.
- Put encasements or bedbug covers on your mattress and box spring.
- Put bedbug interceptors (traps) under bed and furniture legs.
- Make the bed an island: Keep bed away from the wall and do not let bedding touch the floor.
- Remove clutter where bedbugs can hide. This will also help your daily vacuuming.
- Isolate infested items in sealed plastic bags or containers. When you are ready to treat the items, take them out of the sealed containers and wash them, then treat items in a hot dryer for at least 30 minutes.
- Clean and scrub seams / folds of mattresses with detergent.
- Seal cracks where bedbugs can hide. Check with your landlord before this step.
If you have questions, contact us for quick advice.