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It's Tenant Vs. Landlord In Irving Bed Bug Fight

IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) - Irving resident Lenell Wyatt is well aware of the old saying... "Don't let the bed bugs bite."

Unfortunately she found out it's not hard to find those bugs in beds and sofas. Wyatt's apartment at the Vista Pointe complex in Irving is crawling with bed bugs.

"I mean, I literally sit there and watch them come out of the sofa," she said of the infestation. And the bites the bugs leave behind, well they're unpleasant. "They would be raised up on my skin with red markings."

To prove the point to management, her niece bagged some of the bugs up to show the landlord. "I am very frustrated. I took a whole day off from both of my jobs," said Wyatt. "I was up 24 hours because they were pressuring me to get everything out."

Wyatt had to dismantle two beds and uproot her sofas so exterminators could treat her apartment and there's a catch. She may have to pay for the treatment.

Tony Mallers is an attorney with Cowles & Thompson who handles landlord-tenant law. He says in most cases, the landlord must pick up the cost of any problems that affect the health or safety of a tenant, but there are exceptions.

"A landlord is not responsible for items that are caused by the tenant or by guests or invitees of the tenant," explained Mallers. "So therefore an argument arises in favor of the landlord if it can be proven that a tenant brought an infested mattress into the rented dwelling."

And that's exactly what the managing company of the Vista Pointe Apartments is arguing.

A spokesman for the company said tenants are asked to inspect their apartments before moving any furniture in. If no bed bugs are found, then the apartment is considered clean. If bed bugs are found after furniture has been moved in they are considered the responsibility of the tenant.

And Wyatt faces another obstacle. Her lease has an addendum specifically addressing bed bugs. It places the responsibility of paying for treatment on her.

CBS 11 News contacted the Dallas Tenants' Association and we were told that bed bug addendum's are rare. Attorney Mallers agrees and said he had never seen such a clause.

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