HONOLULU (KHON2) — Beg bug infestations in the islands are a problem more common than you think. Now, a lawmaker wants to make it illegal for a landlord to rent a property known to have the pests.
They are tiny, flat, blood sucking parasites that often hide in mattresses, biting and feeding on their unsuspecting hosts while they’re asleep at night.
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While the health department said bed bugs don’t carry or transmit diseases, they are a nuisance.
So much so that Senator Karl Rhoads introduced a bill about them.
“The goal is that neither tenants nor landlords should knowingly rent a place that has bedbugs in it before they eradicate them,” Rhoads explained.
And, he said tenants should also be obligated to avoid introducing them to rental units and have to let their landlord know if they are experiencing them.
“It’s just a miserable experience,” Rhoads said. “And, I felt like we needed to do a little more proactive about keeping them under control.”
Jon Montalbo, Aloha Termite & Pest Control President said they’re more common than you’d think
“We do get calls, a few a week or so to do a few treatments a week. Not a lot. I’ve heard of other people that do daily stuff with these guys. So, it’s pretty predominant out there,” Montalbo explained. “Unfortunately, anywhere where people go, which is everywhere, you could find bedbugs.”
Montalbo said bed begs are hitchhikers. His advice to prevent bringing them home: check mattresses when you travel, inspect your suitcases and bags before you get home, and thoroughly inspect any second hand furniture you purchase before moving it into your house.
Sen. Stanley Chang said he dealt with bed bugs first hand back when he was in college.
“I made the mistake of buying a used mattress; and unbeknownst to me, it was infested with bedbugs,” Chang said. “So, pretty quickly thereafter, I started to notice these incredibly itchy bites on my body.”
Chang said of all the issues he’s dealt with, that was one of the worst because they were so hard to get rid of.
“It’s a problem,” Montalbo said. “It will 100% get worse. It’s not going to go away by itself. And, unfortunately, to my knowledge, there’s not a lot of home remedies that take care of it.”
And, he said it can be costly if it gets out of hand.
According to the proposal, the landlord would have to pay for remediation if bugs are found within 60 days of a tenant moving in. After that, the tenant may have to share the remediation costs.
The bill is scheduled to be heard Friday, Feb. 10 at 9:30 a.m. by the committees on housing and commerce and consumer protection.
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Chang said they will be looking at it closely and may consider adding it to the warranty of habitability law, which requires landlords to provide a safe living space and fix any issues within a reasonable period of time.