Bed bugs and the law in California under Civil Code 1941.1

Landlord Obligations

The landlord according to the California state law requires that landlord do the following things;

  • Protect the roofing of the house, maintain the exterior walls, widows and also the doors
  • Provide adequate running cold water and hot water
  • Provide heat
  • Provide electric systems, wiring and equipments that are working
  • Very clean premises that is free of rubbish, filth and garbage and vermin’s
  • Provide with adequate trash containers
  • Maintain the house floors and stairs

The tenants duty civil code §1941.2

The tenants are required to do the following under the civil code;

  • Ensure the compound is clean and sanitary
  • Dispose any waste
  • Use the electrical and plumbing services as designed for use
  • Not to intentionally destroy the building
  • Personallytake care of any damage caused by their actions or neglect

Retaliation by the landlord

California Civil Code 1941.1 does not allow the landlord to, under any circumstance; retaliate if the tenant does the following;

  • If the tenants calls an agency for inspection, therefore landlord cannot evict tenant for calling agency to inspect the building or the agency asked for bedbugs treatment
  • If one of the tenants organizes other tenants to air their views
  • If the tenants requests the landlord to make repairs of things that are broken in the building. This is because it is the landlord’s obligation to ensure that tenants live in habitable environment free from damages


The tenant is allowed to retain the rent, or a portion of the rent, when the landlord fails to meet the requirements of making the premises habitable. When the building is poor condition and not fit for living and the landlord refuses to meet his/her obligation the tenant can withhold rent. However, the law prohibits the landlord from evicting the tenant when they withhold the rent for reasons that they have raised and the landlord refuses to take care of them. These issues should be in written format and presented to the landlord.

 Lawsuits against the landlord

The tenants can file a suit against the landlord when they fail to maintain  habitable environment but they must prove the following;

  • That the defects that exists violates the California Civil Code§1941.2
  • That the landlord was given a notice to make the construction
  • That the tenants living in the premise have incurred damages in the process of neglect

 Who is supposed to pay for bedbug’s treatment?

  • Landlords should not charge the tenants for the costs of bed bugs treatment
  • The landlord should not say that they do not have money to afford for bed bug treatment
  • Tenants should not be reluctant to report problems to the landlord which makes the problems worse

The civil codes say that the landlord who try to pass the costs for bed bugs treatment to tenants will be violating the law which says that it is his/her obligation to maintain the premise. The HUD also has established guidelines for landlords to follow in maintaining the house bed bugs treatments in the subsidized housing places. Knight Vs Hallsthammer (1981) states that, it is the obligation of the landlord to maintain the house to be habitable regardless of their financial ability and funds availability. The costs incurred in the bedbugs treatment should be covered by the landlord and not at any circumstance should the tenants cover the costs related.

 Landlord cannot argue not to have money

Sometimes the landlord may argue that the tenants did not provide notice of the bed bugs infestation in case of Petersen Vs Superior Court 10 4th 1185. In most cases, the landlord argues that the tenant did not provide them with enough time for them to treat the bedbugs. There is need to give the landlord 24 hours notice so that the landlord has enough time to treat the bedbugs.