Some states have had laws regarding bedbugs, infestations, and their control since the early 1900s when bedbugs were a significant pest. Then, as bedbug infestations waned, so too did bedbug laws. But as the 21st century continues to see a resurgence of the tiny biting bugs, states began reassessing their laws, with many updating or adding new regulation.
According to the EPA, there are 21 states that have some level of law or regulation that applies to bed bugs, nine of which have been enacted since 2005. Requirements focus on hotels and landlords or other property managers. The National Conference of State Legislatures lists the following states as having laws addressing bedbug infestations:
- In rental properties: Arizona, California, Florida, Nebraska and New Hampshire
- In hotels: Alabama, California, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Dakota and West Virginia.
- In institutional facilities: Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin
- In schools: New York and Utah
- In railcars: Illinois
- In migrant labor camps: Iowa, Nevada, and Pennsylvania
- As public health nuisances: Arizona, Kansas, and Texas
NCSL also has compiled a table providing the statute and a brief summary of the current regulations of these states. A few examples of the summaries are:
- In Arizona, bedbugs in any public sleeping accommodations are considered to be a public nuisance dangerous to public health. Landlords may not knowingly rent a unit with a bedbug infestation to a tenant and must provide tenants with educational materials on bedbugs. Tenants may not knowingly bring materials that have been infested with bedbugs into a rental unit.
- In Florida, landlords must make reasonable provisions for the extermination of bedbugs in a rental property.
- Nevada requires that a hotel room infested with bedbugs be fumigated, disinfected and renovated until the bedbugs are entirely exterminated. (The law also applies to other vermin)
- Wisconsin law requires that institutions take all necessary measures to eradicate bedbug and pest infestations.
Although EPA regulates pesticides that can be used against bedbugs, its jurisdiction does not include the state regulations governing the management or reporting of bedbugs. However, the EPA includes a document prepared by the National Pest Management Association staff that provides in-depth detail on State Bed Bug Specific Laws and Rules. These rules were updated in July 2013, but because states continue to propose and enact new laws, EPA recommends that you check with your state for any changes or new laws. Additionally, some states allow cities and municipalities to enact regulation, so local laws should also be checked.
Chicago's Bedbug Law
One example of local regulation is that of Chicago, which passed an ordinance in 2013 to help alleviate the bedbug problem. The ordinance established requirements for both landlords and tenants of rental housing as well as requiring condominium and cooperative building associations to have written bedbug plans. The law also:
- Requires every Chicago-licensed business to provide pest control services when a bed bug problem occurs on the premises.
- Prohibits any establishment that provides sleeping accommodations (such as hotels) from renting rooms with a bed bug problem.
- Prohibits the disposal of any bed bug infested item unless it is enclosed in a plastic bag and labeled as bedbug infested.
- Prohibits the recycling of any bedbug-infested item.
- Requires sellers of secondhand bedding to provide notices to consumers that the bedding is made in whole or part from secondhand material or has been previously owned or used.
- Requires sellers of new and secondhand bedding to inspect it and if found to be soiled, malodorous or infested with pests, prohibits them from selling it and requires it to be properly disposed of.
The city also provides some multi-lingual fact sheets and checklists including a Consumer Watch bulletin on Buying a Mattress, many of which apply to anyone—whether you live in Chicago or Illinois or any other city or state of the U.S.