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B.C. woman loses bed bug fight against landlord

Sharon Fraser first noticed the bugs when she saw them in her bed.
A woman claimed $895.29 for personal items, the cost of an exterminator, and cleaning supplies.

B.C.’s Civil resolution Tribunal has rejected a woman’s claim for damages as a result of an alleged bed bug infestation she claimed destroyed property.

In a decision dated June 15, tribunal member Deanna Rivers said Sharon Fraser claimed she had to pay for expenses relating to bed bugs in the home she lived in with Kristen Niessen.

Fraser claimed $895.29 for personal items, the cost of an exterminator, and cleaning supplies.

Niessen, however, said she was not responsible for the bed bugs, and that she hired an exterminator.

The parties agreed that Fraser rented a room in Niessen’s home, that bed bugs were found in the home in mid-June 2022 and that Fraser moved out the next month.

Fraser claimed Niessen’s son brought the bed bugs into the home when he moved in, in June 2022, as she had not seen them before.

Niessen said the bed bugs were there before her son moved in, but that she thought they were fleas.

“There is no evidence of where (Fraser) first noticed them, other than the bed bugs were in their bed,” Rivers said.

Niessen says that she immediately contacted the exterminators in July when she found out after returning home.

The tribunal said Fraser disputed that but added that emails between Niessen and the strata confirm that exterminators were contacted.

“I find the exact date is not relevant as the applicant had moved out of the home before the exterminator came,” Rivers said.

Niessen said that the exterminator found bugs in Fraser’s room, her own room, and a couch.

And, Niessen said, there were no bed bugs in her son’s room.

However, she did not provide a statement by the exterminator. "Nothing turns on whether the exterminator found bugs in the son’s room or not," the ruling said.

Rivers said the nature of a bed bug infestation makes it difficult to discern the source of the bugs.

“I do not agree with the applicant that the timing alone makes it obvious that Ms. Niessen’s son was the bedbug’s source. Rather, I find that the question of where the bed bugs came from is a technical one that requires expert evidence, such as from a pest control professional,” Rivers said.

However, Rivers said, Fraser did not provide any expert evidence.

“Without that, I cannot find Ms. Niessen responsible for the bedbug’s existence in the home,” Rivers said, adding Fraser provided no proof Niessen had acted unreasonably.

“The evidence before me suggests that Ms. Niessen took reasonable steps when she found out about the bed bugs to have them exterminated,” Rivers said. “There is no evidence that Ms. Niessen was negligent in any way that caused the bed bug infestation.”

And, Rivers noted, Fraser provided no proof she had sustained any damages.

“They provided no evidence that the bed bugs damaged the claimed items, of the necessity for the other claimed items, or for an exterminator to confirm there were no bed bugs at their new home,” Rivers said. “They provided no receipts other than for the exterminator.”

As such, the claim was dismissed.