Know Your Rights! Colorado Bed Bug Laws
In 2019, the first (and only) law regarding bed bugs was enacted into law in Colorado. It defines tenant rights and landlord responsibilities. The summary is:
According to the Bed Bugs in Residential Premises Act HB19-1328, a tenant is required to promptly notify a landlord in writing when the tenant knows or reasonably suspects that the tenant’s dwelling unit contains bed bugs.
Once a landlord is notified about a possible bed bug infestation, the landlord (or property manager) has 96 hours to:
Obtain an inspection of the unit by a qualified inspection company
If bed bugs are found, they must inspect all contiguous units
Not just anyone can inspect a property for bed bugs. They must be considered a "qualified inspector", which is defined as: a K9 bed bug inspection team, local health department official, certified pest control operator, commercial pest control applicator, qualified pest control supervisor, or pest control technician who is retained by a landlord to conduct an inspection for bed bugs.
If a Denver rental property is infected with bed bugs, the units around that property will also need to be inspected to make sure that the entire bed bug infestation is treated.
After the inspection has taken place, the Denver landlord or property manager has additional responsibilities including:
Reporting the inspection results to the tenant within two business days
If bed bugs are NOT found, the notice must inform the tenant to contact the local health department if they have additional concerns
If bed bugs are found, the qualified inspector must issue a report to the landlord or property manager within 24 hours
If bed bugs are discovered and the inspection is positive, Denver landlords have five business days to commence reasonable measures to eradicate as determined by the qualified inspector. This essentially means that the landlord needs to do whatever the qualified inspector tells them to do in order to get rid of the bed bugs. If the inspector tells them it will take five treatments to eradicate the bed bug problem, they legally must accept their professional advice and direction.
With any professional inspection and property treatment comes a cost, and under Colorado law, the landlord is responsible for covering the full cost to inspect and eradicate the bed bugs. Even if the landlord suspects that the bed bugs were brought to your property through the tenant, the tenant is not responsible for paying the cost of inspection or treatment of the bed bug issue.
Before the bed bug inspection takes place, Denver landlords are required to give a notice to their tenants at least 48 hours before the scheduled inspection. The only way it is acceptable to give a notice shorter than 48 hours is if a shorter time period is listed in the lease. If the lease doesn’t address it, the landlord is obligated to give that 48 hour notice, and nothing shorter.
Tenants also have a role to play in this bed bug inspection and eradication process. Once they are notified of a bed bug inspection in the property they are residing, they must agree that they will not interfere with the inspection and they must cooperate.
The tenant will also have additional cleaning responsibilities before the eradication process takes place that could include washing all of their clothes, stuffing them in bags, rolling up mattresses, and many other cleaning duties which will be listed by the inspection company.
Parts 7 & 8
Colorado law gives qualified inspectors certain powers to inspect:
Tenants are required to comply with reasonable measures to inspect and treat as determined by the qualified inspector, and are also responsible for all costs associated with preparing the rental property for treatment.
For example, if the bed bug inspection company tells a tenant that they need to remove a couch from the property, the tenant is responsible for moving and disposing of that couch at their expense.
Parts 9 & 10
Part 9 is a very good and common sense section that states A landlord may not offer for rent a dwelling that the landlord knows or reasonably suspects to contain bed bugs.
Part 10 addresses a disclosure requirement for properties that have been treated for bed bugs. When potential renters ask about bed bugs in a property, metro-Denver landlords are required to disclose:
Whether, to the landlord’s knowledge the dwelling unit contained bed bugs within the past eight months
The last date, if any, on which a dwelling unit being rented or offered for rent was inspected and found to be free of bed bugs
If a landlord breaches any aspect of this law, the landlord is liable to the tenant for the tenant’s actual damages. If the landlord fails to act or fail to act within any of the timelines outlined above, be prepared to be responsible for your tenant’s costs and damages associated with a bed bug infestation.
The full bill is available here: https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb19-1328