Bed Bug Prevention and Control
The Environmental Health Section encourages all stakeholders (property owners, managers, tenants and pest control operators) to cooperatively and promptly work together to resolve bed bug infestations. Contact Environmental Health if prompt action, as specified by the Director's Rules and Regulations (effective July 1, 2012), is not taken. The Department responds to complaints (i.e. credible allegations) that one or more Responsible Party is not taking appropriate actions to prevent or eliminate bed bugs (see the Helpful Links for resources needed to comply). If the Department finds evidence that bed bugs exist and that a Responsible Party has not followed the Director's Rules and Regulations, the Department will issue a Notice of Violation with instructions to complete actions within a specified time period.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are wingless, flat, reddish-brown, blood-sucking insects about the size of a chili flake that are found in most urban environments. Bed bugs spread from place to place on the person or on the belongings of persons with infestation. Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices in beds, wooden furniture, floors, and walls during the daytime and emerge at night to feed on their preferred host, humans. Bed bugs are not known to spread human diseases but their bites can cause, redness, itching and swelling.
Property Owner and Tenant Responsibilities
Property owners and tenants share a responsibility to maintain housing conditions free of pest infestations. Bed bug infestation , like other pest infestations, represent unhealthy housing conditions and, if not managed, are considered to be violations of both the San Francisco Health Code and the State Housing Code.
In 2006, the Department of Public Health adopted rules and regulations for bed bug management that clarify the responsibilities of owners and managers, tenants, and pest control companies. Property owners or managers must respond to tenant bed bugs complaints by securing the services of a licensed pest control operator to investigate the concern, and conduct appropriate treatment. Bed bug control also requires the cooperation of tenants to provide access to dwellings and wash clothing and bedding. Once treatment is initiated, bed bug eradication may require up to 30 days or more.
The Department continues to conduct educational workshops on the Director’s Rules and Regulations for apartment and hotel owners, community organizations, and licensed pest control companies/operators. The Department plans to increase efforts to educate property owners on their responsibilities to investigate, treat, and record tenant bedbug complaints. The Department will also be conducting additional compliance monitoring at properties with known histories of frequent violations.
National Pest Management Association Bed Bug Best Management Practices (external link)
National Center for Healthy Housing "What's Working for Bed Bug Control in Multifamily Housing" (external link)
Making a Complaint
If you would like to report a complaint regarding bed bugs to the Department of Public Health, click here.