The New Bed Bug Disclosure Compliance Date is Around the Corner. Are you Prepared?

Puneet Singh, Esq

June 2017

Recently California passed Assembly Bill No. 551, a new bed bug law imposing several requirements for owners and managers of rental property. Starting July 1, 2017, an owner must provide to all prospective tenants with written notice in at least 10-point font containing the following information:

  • General information about bed bug identification, behavior and biology;
  • The importance of cooperation for prevention and treatment;
  • The importance of prompt written reporting of suspected infestations to the landlord; and
  • The procedure to report suspected infestations to the landlord.

Codified in California Civil Code Section 1954.603, the language of the written notice may substantially be in the following form:

Information about Bed Bugs

Bed bug Appearance: Bed bugs have six legs. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about 1/4 of an inch in length. Their color can vary from red and brown to copper colored. Young bed bugs are very small. Their bodies are about 1/16 of an inch in length. They have almost no color. When a bed bug feeds, its body swells, may lengthen, and becomes bright red, sometimes making it appear to be a different insect. Bed bugs do not fly. They can either crawl or be carried from place to place on objects, people, or animals. Bed bugs can be hard to find and identify because they are tiny and try to stay hidden.

Life Cycle and Reproduction: An average bed bug lives for about 10 months. Female bed bugs lay one to five eggs per day. Bed bugs grow to full adulthood in about 21 days. Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding.

 Bed bug Bites: Because bed bugs usually feed at night, most people are bitten in their sleep and do not realize they were bitten. A person’s reaction to insect bites is an immune response and so varies from person to person. Sometimes the red welts caused by the bites will not be noticed until many days after a person was bitten, if at all.

 Common signs and symptoms of a possible bed bug infestation:

  • Small red to reddish brown fecal spots on mattresses, box springs, bed frames, mattresses, linens, upholstery, or walls.
  • Molted bed bug skins, white, sticky eggs, or empty eggshells.
  • Very heavily infested areas may have a characteristically sweet odor.
  • Red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms, and other body parts exposed while sleeping. However, some people do not show bed bug lesions on their bodies even though bed bugs may have fed on them.

For more information, see the Internet Web sites of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Pest Management Association.

It is important that the notice include the procedure to report suspected infestations to the landlord. The notice must also be provided to existing tenants by January 1, 2018.

In addition to the new written disclosure that must be provided to new and existing tenants, AB 551 imposes the following requirements:

  • Landlords cannot retaliate against a tenant for reporting bed bugs. Acts of retaliation include but are not limited to evicting the resident, raising the rent, or decreasing services.
  • Landlords cannot show, rent, or lease vacant units that the landlord knows has a bed bug infestation.
  • Landlords must give the required written notice (as required by California Civil Code Section 1954) before entering a unit to inspect or treat for bed bugs and the tenants must cooperate with remediation efforts. Tenant cooperation includes reducing clutter, washing clothes, or performing other activities in accordance with the treatment strategy.
  • Landlords must notify tenants of inspected units of the results of the bed bug inspection within two days of receiving the pest control operator’s findings. If the infestation is found in the ommon areas then all tenants must be provided notice of the pest control operator’s findings.

The text of AB 551 can be found at:


NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For legal advice please contact an experienced attorney.