News Bedbug Law Forces Landlords to Reveal Past Infestations

Jose Peralta

September 07, 2010

Wall Street Journal 

by Melanie West

August 30, 2010 

Apartment renters of New York, get ready to have a bedbug conversation with prospective landlords. 

Gov. David Paterson has signed into law the Bedbug Disclosure Act. As Metropolis reported back in June, the bill requires building owners to disclose a one-year history of bedbug infestations to potential tenants.

Assembly woman Linda B. Rosenthal, who represents Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and State Senator Jose Peralta from Queens sponsored the legislation. 

“New York City tenants have been living in fear of bedbugs, and I am excited to offer them this new protection,” said Rosenthal in a statement. “Nothing is more horrifying than signing a lease after a lengthy apartment search only to discover that your new apartment is bedbug-infested.”

The scourge of bedbugs seems to be everywhere this summer, from the Hollister Epic store in SoHo to the Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn and even the iconic Empire State Building. In July, city officials appropriated $500,000 to fund anti-bedbug programs.

Strangely, however, the severity of the bedbug problem as measured by complaints to the city’s 311 nonemergency hotline appears to be on the decline. Bedbug-related calls are down about 13% compared to last year. From January through August of 2009, the city logged 22,459 bedbug related calls. During the same period this year, there were 19,529 calls. 

The newly signed law mandating disclosure might not be the end of bedbug legislation. Rosenthal has also introduced a bill in the Assembly that would create a state tax credit for bedbug sufferers who have had to replace furniture, bedding and other items because of bedbug damage.

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