bed bug news, information, activism, and support — Got bed bugs …

Perhaps New Hampshires famous motto Live Free or Die will be slightly amended the state just passed a new law which means tenants and landlords may have an easier time living bed bug free.

Like other pieces of bed bug legislation were aware of, the new law, which we told you about when it was NH House Bill 482, isnt perfect. We outlined some concerns about it in that earlier story.

The New Hampshire law, which was passed in June and goes into effect January 1, 2014, stipulates that landlords have to pay for bed bug treatment initially. (This helps make sure everything happens quickly.)

However, the law allows landlords to later charge a tenant for having their own unit treated (with an installment payment plan if needed), if that tenant is considered responsible for bringing bed bugs into the building. That is fair, I think, but (as usual in these scenarios) I have some concerns about how it will be determined who is responsible.

As HB582 notes:

there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the tenant is responsible for the infestation if during the 6 months prior to the inception of the defendants tenancy, and throughout the defendants tenancy, there were no reports, to the landlord or a municipal health or housing authority, of the presence of bed bugs in the defendants unit or the dwelling units of a multiple-unit building that are adjacent to or directly above or below the defendants unit, or by previous tenants in a single-family home.

In other words, the law seems to suggest that if no other tenants report their bed bug problems, the tenant who does report bed bugs is assumed to be responsible.

This is faulty reasoning, because there are lots of possible reasons for those adjacent neighbors not to come forward and report their own problem with bed bugs.

We know for a fact that some people will have bed bugs and not notice, sometimes for a long time. More often, perhaps, some tenants will fear repercussions (not least of which, having to pay for treatment they may be unable to afford) and may stay silent. Some admit they are willing to put up with bed bugs rather than pay for treatment. And then there are the tenants who stealthily treat their own units rather than report bed bugs even though many DIY methods (like aerosols and foggers) make it more likely the bed bugs spreadto neighbors.

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