On May 29th a jury in Anne Arundel County returned an $800,000 verdict for a tenant for injuries she sustained as a result of her landlord’s failure to treat for bed bugs. The Court entered judgment on May 31st. The details of the case are important in several respects. First, the tenant argued that the bed bugs at the property preceded her tenancy and that the bites from bed bugs began as soon as she moved into the premises in September 2011. Also, the landlord had been ordered by the city of Annapolis to correct the bed bug problem but did not take sufficient steps to do so. Additionally, the landlord in this case took the alleged retaliatory action of attempting to evict the tenant after she complained to the city. Finally, the landlord did not file an answer in the case or offer any defense, so the jury returned a verdict after hearing evidence from only the tenant and her attorney. Despite some of the details that make this verdict less shocking than it initially appears, we recommend that landlords continue to be vigilant and aggressive in treating their properties for bed bugs and taking complaints by tenants about bed bugs seriously. Some common preventative measures are: bed bug addenda in leases, lease termination notices for tenants who fail to cooperate, and if necessary, lawsuits against those tenants for breaching the lease. Offit Kurman’s Landlord Representation Group is available to answer any questions you might have about bed bugs as they relate to your property. Click here to view all Landlord Alerts.
If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, or any other landlord representation matter, please contact Billy Cannon at 240.507.1771 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.