I live in an apartment in Nebraska and recently got bed bugs from our neighbor. While our the landlord handles hiring the exterminator, they have failed to communicate important details that have put mine and my wife's health at risk multiple times.

When the exterminator comes to spray, we have to vacate the unit for 4 hours for it to be safe to re-enter. We only found that out because we tried to contact the exterminator's company directly due to the lack of information provided by our landlord. We then contacted the landlord and requested that they inform us once the exterminator has left so we could calculate when it would be safe to return. Not only did they not call us, but the staff member we spoke to said to re-enter "whenever" and it "should be safe" even if 4 hours hadn't passed yet.

After the first spraying, we were told that was it and that they would inspect our unit in two weeks. The next week they put up notices that they would be spraying for general insects. It turns out the exterminator had to do a second spraying (which they said wouldn't happen) and unlike general insect sprays require you not re-enter your unit for 4 hours. If my wife hadn't arrived home early she wouldn't have been able to tell him we weren't prepared and would have returned during the unsafe time period.

When we talked to them about the misinformation they were providing us with, the manager laughed at us and told us that it wasn't their job to know those details and that we should "Google" the exterminators number and call to learn the details. We have, even before the first visit and each time we were told that because we technically are not the customer they are unable to provide details about our units treatment plan.

I want to know if I have legal grounds to break my lease without penalties. I know you can if you have been injured due to negligence by the landlord, but what if they put you at risk multiples times due to negligence by the landlord? So far my wife and I have been able to be proactive enough, and in some cases do the landlords job to the extent that we have remained unharmed so far, but I don't want to be stuck here until we are actually harmed.

1 Answer 1


The availability of legal liability for "risking" (i.e. placing someone at elevated risk of something bad happening when the bad thing doesn't actually happen) is a controversial and developing area of tort law.

At a minimum, putting the landlord on notice of the risk that the landlord is creating, ideally in writing, would improve the strength of your case in a subsequent negligence action against the landlord if you were harmed in a later incident.

In general, to break a lease due to the physical condition of the property, you need circumstances that amount to "constructive eviction" that render the property not habitable for an extended period of time (certainly more than four hours necessitated by remedial efforts to address a problem with the premises initiated by the landlord at tenant request, even if not by you).

Alternately, the lease may have language requiring advanced notice before your possession is disturbed, which may have been violated, but it would be a pretty risky proposition to attempt to break the lease on this sole landlord default.

So, while the landlord's conduct could have led to liability or ground to break the lease, it probably hasn't actually risen to that level, even though the landlord has behaved badly.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .