GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2011

H                                                                                                                                                   2

HOUSE BILL 721

Committee Substitute Favorable 6/9/11

 

Short Title:        Landlord/Tenant/Bedbug Liability.

(Public)

Sponsors:

 

Referred to:

 

April 7, 2011

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT requiring landlords and tenants to take certain actions to  exterminate bedbugs in dwelling units.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1.  G.S. 42-42(a) reads as rewritten:

" 42-42.  Landlord to provide fit premises.

(a)        The landlord shall:

(9)        Not offer for lease any premises that, at the time the landlord and tenant enter into a rental agreement, the landlord knows to be infested by the species cimex lectularius, also known as bedbugs. The landlord may, prior to leasing the premises, obtain an inspection from a licensee under G.S. 106-65.24(15). If no evidence is found, the written report of the inspection shall serve as evidence of the landlord's compliance with the provisions of this subdivision. G.S. 42-43.1 and this subdivision shall comprise the sole and exclusive duties of a landlord relating to an infestation of cimex lectularius, also known as bedbugs;  no other subsection of  this section shall be construed to impose any duties or obligations upon a landlord relating to an infestation of bedbugs."

SECTION 2.  G.S. 42-43(a) reads as rewritten:

" 42-43.  Tenant to maintain dwelling unit.

(a)        The tenant shall:

(8)        Comply with the provisions of G.S. 42-43.1 in dealing with any infestation of the species cimex lectularius, also known as bedbugs."

SECTION 3.  Article 5 of Chapter 42 of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read as follows:

" 42-43.1.  Bedbug infestation; landlord and tenant obligations.

(a)        Landlord's General Obligations. - If the landlord did not obtain an inspection from a licensee under G.S. 42-42(a)(9), and the tenant took initial possession of the premises less than 60 days before the written notification was given, then, within five days of receiving the notice from the tenant, the landlord shall contract with a licensee to exterminate any bedbugs in the premises.

(b)        Landlord's Obligation to Inspect and Treat Neighboring Units. - Upon receipt of notice of the presence of any infestation of bedbugs in the premises, the landlord shall obtain an inspection from all neighboring units to discern whether there is evidence of a bedbug infestation in any neighboring units. If no such evidence is found, the written report of the inspection shall serve as evidence of the landlord's compliance with the provisions of this subsection. If such evidence of a bedbug infestation is found in a neighboring unit, then notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) and subsection (d) of this section, the landlord shall be responsible to contract with a licensee to exterminate any bedbugs in the premises and the neighboring units.

(c)        Landlord's Provision of Educational Materials to Tenant. - The landlord shall provide educational materials regarding cimex lectularius, also known as bedbugs, to new tenants.

(d)        Tenant's General Obligations. - A tenant shall not knowingly or recklessly introduce onto the premises any person or thing infested with bedbugs. A tenant shall notify his or her landlord, in writing, within five days of suspecting the presence of any infestation of the species cimex lectularius, also known as bedbugs. If the landlord did obtain an inspection from a licensee, or if at least 60 days have passed since the tenant took initial possession of the premises, it shall be the tenant's responsibility to have the bedbugs in the premises exterminated. Within seven days of notifying the landlord of the suspected presence of bedbugs, the tenant shall do both of the following: (i) contract with one of the licensees suggested by the landlord or, if no licensees were suggested, with any licensee, and (ii) have the premises treated for bedbugs by the licensee. The tenant shall be solely responsible for any fees charged by the licensee and any damages associated with the presence and elimination of bedbugs from the premises and any attached units and spaces. The tenant shall furnish to the landlord proof from the licensee of the services performed. The landlord may provide the tenant with either the name, address, and telephone number of the licensee that inspected the premises or with the name, address, and telephone number of the licensee that the landlord deems reputable. In all situations, the tenant shall allow the landlord and the licensee access to the premises for the purposes of inspection for, and treatment of, bedbugs and shall carefully follow all instructions provided by the landlord or licensee to facilitate the elimination of bedbugs. The failure of any tenant to comply with the provisions of this section shall be a breach of the tenant's obligations under G.S. 42-43(a)(8), and the landlord may do any or all of the following: (i) contract with a licensee at the tenant's expense to exterminate the bedbugs; (ii) terminate the tenant's tenancy; or (iii) pursue a cause of action against the tenant for damages.

(e)        G.S. 42-42(a)(9), G.S. 42-43(a)(8), and this section shall form the sole and exclusive duties and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in North Carolina relating to an infestation of cimex lectularius, also known as bedbugs. Counties and municipalities shall not enact or enforce any ordinance or law that creates any additional duty or remedy for landlords or tenants relating to an infestation of bedbugs except as provided herein.

(f)         For purposes of this section, the term "licensee" shall have the same meaning as in G.S. 106-65.24(15), and the term "neighboring units" shall mean immediately adjoining rental units that share a common wall or floor or ceiling with the premises."

SECTION 4.  G.S. 42-51 reads as rewritten:

" 42-51.  Permitted uses of the deposit.

Security deposits for residential dwelling units shall be permitted only for the tenant's possible nonpayment of rent and costs for water or sewer services provided pursuant to G.S. 62-110(g), damage to the premises, damages due to a violation of the tenant's obligations under G.S. 42-43(a)(8), nonfulfillment of rental period, any unpaid bills that become a lien against the demised property due to the tenant's occupancy, costs of re-renting the premises after breach by the tenant, costs of removal and storage of tenant's property after a summary ejectment proceeding or court costs in connection with terminating a tenancy. The security deposit shall not exceed an amount equal to two weeks' rent if a tenancy is week to week, one and one-half months' rent if a tenancy is month to month, and two months' rent for terms greater than month to month. These deposits must be fully accounted for by the landlord as set forth in G.S. 42-52."

SECTION 5.  This act becomes effective October 1, 2011.