Bedbug
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BEDBUGS

QUESTION: Bedbugs seem to be invading Southern California. If we don't exterminate unit interiors for fleas and ants, would bedbugs be treated the same way? If unit "A" gets them and they spread through the building, is the HOA liable?

ANSWER: Bedbugs are being brought to the United States by travelers to foreign countries. Bedbugs hitchhike on a person's body and luggage. Once they arrive at their new home, they hide in beds, carpets, furniture, baseboards and electrical outlets. Bedbugs then come out at night to feed on the blood of humans and their pets.

Respective Duties. Since bedbugs are initially brought to a unit by the owner, it’s the owner's responsibility to hire an exterminator to eradicate them. The problem is when bedbugs spread from an infested unit through the common areas to adjacent units. Clearly, associations are responsible for treating the common areas but what about other units? That will depend on the governing documents--they could make the HOA additionally responsible for pest control inside units once the pest starts to spread.

Reimbursement. Often an association's governing documents authorize boards to special assess owners who cause the association to incur extraordinary costs. If provided for in the documents, boards could bill an owner for the expense of eradicating bedbugs brought into the building by the homeowner or his family or guests.

Recommendation: Whether or not the association has a duty to treat for bedbugs, boards may have an obligation to notify all units in the building so owners can take preventative measures of their own. Boards need to talk to legal counsel about how best to proceed in light of their own governing documents.

ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.

Adams Stirling PLC