Bed bugs and Canadian Law

Black out bed bug detector / LightsOut bed bug detector

Courtesy of Market Place, this article resumes the basics of bed bugs and the Canadian law by province. 

Bedbugs and the Law         

Responsibility for bedbug infestations and covering costs of extermination is often a battleground for tenants and landlords. Laws vary across Canada, and because bedbugs have just recently become an increasing problem many provinces and municipalities don't have legislation outlining who is responsible. In many regions, tenants must bring specific cases before a landlord-tenant arbitrator, and often, they hinge on proving who brought the bedbugs in. This tends to be a difficult process, because the initial source of bed bugs is often hard to prove.

Tenants and landlords can consult individual local or provincial landlord-tenant agencies for recommendations.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, landlords and tenants with bedbugs are advised to work out a resolution themselves. If a resolution can't be met, a mediation process may be conducted by a residential tenancy branch.

In Nova Scotia, Halifax doesn't have clear-cut legislation for dealing with bedbugs. Responsibility for extermination falls upon the tenant if a landlord can prove a tenant brought the bugs in. The Halifax agency has found that landlords often foot the bill as it's difficult to prove there were no bugs before a tenant moves in. Tenants are advised to write a letter to a landlord asking to deal with the problem within a reasonable timeframe. If the landlord refuses, a hearing can be conducted in front of the officer of residential tenancies.

In Prince Edward Island, the director of residential property deals with individual cases of tenants with bedbugs.

New Brunswick's rental and consumer affairs department investigates cases for tenants with bedbugs, as the province doesn't have specific bedbug legislation. The department will order a landlord to pay if the tenants can prove they didn't bring the bedbugs with them when they moved.

In Quebec, Montreal tenants are often responsible for getting rid of bedbugs, unless they have proof they didn't bring them with a move. However, it's the landlord's responsibility to make sure the infestation doesn't spread.

Ontario laws don't cover begbug infestations, but, like most other provinces, the landlord-tenant act states a landlord is responsible for keeping a dwelling safe and healthy, while the tenant must maintain "ordinary cleanliness". The landlord-tenant agency recommends landlords take action for bedbug infestations, as there is no by-law in place. In most cases, the agency has found most landlords are more than willing to foot the bill for exterminators as they don't want infestations to spread.

In Manitoba, pest control falls under municipal by-laws or the province's public health act. Generally, landlords are required to get rid of pests such as rodents, cockroaches and bedbugs, while tenants must keep dwellings reasonably clean and uncluttered to keep infestations from spreading.

Alberta's public health act and housing regulations require a landlord to provide a tenant with a healthy and habitable environment. A tenant with bedbugs is advised to report the dwelling to the regional health authority. Health inspectors will then assess the problem and in most cases order the landlord to take care of it.

Saskatchewan's landlord-tenant act doesn't specify who's responsible for dealing with bedbug infestations. Each case is brought before a hearing with an arbitrator. Often, if the tenant can prove the bugs were on the premises before they moved in, the arbitrator will order the landlord to pay for an exterminator.

In British Columbia, Vancouver's residential tenancy act states the landlord must provide a safe and healthy rental unit. While it doesn't specifically mention bedbugs, Vancouver's health by-law states that the landlord is responsible for treating bedbug infestations. Bedbugs are becoming a large problem in Vancouver. The Tenants Rights Action Coalition is a place tenants can go for further information.