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Tenant claiming untenable residence unreasonably - NH

Hello, I'm new here.  Can a tenant claim that a residence is untenable because they found a bed bug and got a bite?  They knew before they moved in that there was a recent discovery of bedbugs in the building (although my previous tenants did not report any bites or see any bugs and the inspection of my unit by the exterminator did not turn up any either), and the unit as well as common areas and other units in the building were treated before they moved in.  This morning they reported seeing a bug and getting a bite (although this has yet to be confirmed by a third party) and I talked with the exterminator, who agreed to call them to reschedule a re-treatment as soon as possible.  Now they are saying it is untenable and will not pay rent until the apartment is bed bug free.  This just doesn't seem reasonable to me.  I was very upfront about what they were coming into.  No one in the building has moved out over this and it's actively being treated throughout the building.  For all I know, they could bring in new bed bugs after going to a movie theater or a hotel...  As I understand it, state law says that a tenant can withhold rent if a landlord is not treating, but that is definitely not the case here.  Anyone have experience with this in NH?

Instead of starting and giving them a full month free you can still give them incentive with a couple hundred off the months rent. I would not go more than a months rent of "forgiveness" just to give them incentive to leave the premises.
Another option you may have, but is still painful, is to tell them that there are no bedbugs or other infestations and you have an exterminator certifying it. You can offer them to leave by the end of this month and this month alone (state July 2011) and you will not collect rent for the month (incentive to get them out ASAP and re-list to get good quality tenants) or they can pay. Make sure you document it and get a signed agreement if you go this route, sometimes this is the easier way to get them out quickly without hopefully damaging the property and/or going through a long eviction process.   

Otherwise, I would say to them that even if there were bed bugs, which there aren't, that does not deem a property untenable and they can not deny rent. If they would like to continue renting the apartment they must pay in full or an eviction process will start for the amount of the rent and all late fees.   

Ultimately, I would prefer to get them out ASAP as they are costing you money, time, effort, and sanity (at least they would be for me) and you can get someone during these key summer months to rent and rent long term. It is much harder to rent around here during the winter months as people don't want to move/change schools/etc. By any chance have you screened them using this site or any credit checks? Just wondering if they came up clean or that wasn't done.
Well, I spoke with the exterminator this morning and he treated yesterday and inspected and said he had found no evidence of bed bugs.  This makes two inspections and treatments in a week's time and no evidence of bed bugs.  Yet the tenants are insisting that they're there and that I'm in breach of the lease and they're refusing to pay rent.  So...clearly I'm being scammed. I'll be serving the demand for rent and eviction notice tomorrow as soon as I can get to the property. Thanks for your advice, I really like how you have addressed infestations in your lease.   
I don't have exact experience with this situation, however the fact that you previously had an exterminator come in and go over the property and the fact that they are coming back shows a willingness and working to correct the problem. Claiming the property is untenable is saying that something necessary is not there or endangering the lives of the tenants. Bed bugs are an extreme pest, a pain to get rid of, but they do not make the place unlivable.

 I know that bed bugs are becoming much more of a problem here in Manchester NH - not sure exactly where you are located. If you have previously received an exterminators validation that there were no bed bugs (or other pests) I would write into your lease something to the affect of the following (may not help you right now but it's what I have in my lease). "Tenant shall: a.Properly dispose of rubbish, garbage and waste in a clean and sanitary manner at reasonable and regular intervals and to assume all costs of extermination and fumigation for infestation caused by Tenant;" then when a tenant reports a bug problem, you need to have the whole unit inspected and have the exterminator create a report of where the infestation started. One of the problems around here is that people pick up furniture on the street and bring them in without thinking about the whole bed bug problem. Hopefully the bugs are not bed bugs. Additionally, I would send them a certified letter stating that their rent is late and late charges etc. will start accruing - they can't report the issue on the 30th and deny you rent for the first (also a holiday weekend). As to the apartment being untenable, that is not the case and you are also in the process of getting it resolved within a timely manner and rent must be paid accordingly. If they still fail, evict them and get them out quickly, they aren't worth it because they will be complaining about every little thing and will waste your time and money. If they are just paranoid (doubtful) than try to reason with them and get the situation resolved quickly (as you are).  

Good luck and let us know how it goes!
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