Bugs Bugging Your Association? Don’t Grab That Jug of Bug Spray Until You Read This!

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By William (Bill) S. Budd, Esq.

While associations have historically used licensed pest control operators to perform structural (and occasionally general common area) pest control, it was also common to have staff or maintenance contractors apply pesticides around the association as a routine maintenance item without prior notice to residents.  That all changed on January 1, 2017, with the adoption of Assembly Bill (“AB”) 2362, which added a new Civil Code section 4777.

Under this new law, associations intending to have pesticides applied (without using a licensed pest control operator) in common area or a residence must post notice of the impending pesticide treatment and notify adjacent residents at least 48 hours in advance, except in the case of emergency.  The law is broadly worded, and would apply to anyone acting on behalf of the association, including employees, contractors, and even volunteers.

The laws differ depending upon whether the pesticides are to be applied by a licensed pest control operator, or by the association or its agents; for example, a maintenance worker or landscape contractor.  Note, that since the code applies to “an association,” arguably anyone acting on behalf of the association, including volunteers, are covered.

The following is a summary of the requirements, but you should refer to the full text of Civil Code section 4777, and/or seek advice of legal counsel prior to applying pesticides in the common area or a separate interest.

Licensed Pest Control Operator

A State-licensed “pest control operator” must provide certain information to the association to pass on to its residents. This information generally includes:

  • The date(s) of the scheduled application of pesticides to the property;
  • The identity of the pesticide by brand or common chemical name; and
  • The precautions printed on the pesticide label or included in laws or regulations to protect persons doing the application.

[For more information, see California Code of Regulations section 6618(b).]

Unlicensed Pest Control Operator –  New Civil Code Section 4777

Section 4777 generally requires an association to provide notice to its members and residents when pesticides are to be applied to an owner’s separate interest, or to common area, by an unlicensed pest control operator.  The notice must generally include information regarding:

  • The name of the pest(s) to be controlled;
  • The name and brand of the pesticide product to be used;
  • The approximate date, time and frequency with which the pesticide will be applied; and
  • Specified language in the Code disclosing that pesticides are toxic chemicals.

 

This notice must be provided at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the pesticide application by posting notice in a conspicuous location within the common area in which the pesticide is to be applied. If a posted notice is not practicable, notice must be provided by individual delivery.

[For more information, see California Civil Code section 4777]

In Summary

An association can still apply pesticides, but must follow formalities of notice.  Like other highly regulated activities (e.g., towing) it is always a good idea to take guidance from licensed professionals in the field.  Often, when all is considered, it is more cost effective to use the services of licensed insured professionals.