Arizona is currently considering a bill, SB 1306, that addresses some of the tough issues facing landlords and tenants when it comes to dealing with an infestation of bedbugs in rental units.
Landlords and tenants have been tussling over who's responsible for bedbug eradication for years. The law is simple enough: Landlords are responsible for keeping multi-family structures free from such vermin; but if a tenant is the one who has introduced or otherwise caused the problem, the cost of dealing with it can be laid at his door. But with bedbugs, it's practically impossible to trace the cause of the outbreak. Consequently, landlords almost always end up paying. But whether they should also pay for collateral expenses, a demand being made by some tenants, is another matter.
The Arizona bill employs a comprehensive approach to bedbug issues in the landlord-tenant realm. Besides prohibiting the rental of units that the landlord knows are infested, it requires landlords to educate tenants on the nature of the problem and the landlords' and tenants' legal duties once an infestation is found. Responsibility for treatment is placed squarely on the landlord (but if the property is single-family, landlords and tenants can decide differently). Making landlords responsible for treatment, however, does not take away the landlord's power, using traditional legal principals, to look to a tenant for reimbursement if the landlord can prove that the tenant introduced the problem.
The bill is tough on tenants, requiring them to report in writing any evidence of bedbugs and to allow access for treatment and otherwise comply with treatment measures, and to refrain from taking self-help steps, getting treatment from unlicensed persons, or moving infested furniture into a dwelling. Tenants who fail to comply with these rules face the prospect of paying for mitigation (treatment) costs.
Tenants get an important right, however -- if landlords fail to inspect and mitigate an infestation within the specified timelines, tenants can hire a licensed applicator and deduct the expense from the rent (up to $500 or half of the monthly rent, whichever is higher).