By Dan Rivoli
A recently passed law by the New York State Legislature requires landlords to notify prospective tenants if there was a bed bug infestation in their building within the past year. The law is part of an effort to help eradicate the blood-sucking insects and an acknowledgement of their growing presence in the city.
But would landlords be unfairly stigmatized for having bed bugs that came from an old tenant?
Linda Rosenthal, an assembly member from the Upper West Side that wrote the law, feels that the bill is a simple disclosure law that will help those about to sign a new lease make an informed decision.
“They deserve to know the history of infestation in that apartment and in that building so they can make a choice whether they want to move in or undertake an extermination process before the move-in,” Rosenthal said of her bill.
The law requires landlords to give these tenants the bed bug notice. As of now, there’s no fine for violating the law, but Rosenthal wants to see the compliance rate before seeking penalties.
Rosenthal believes landlords will be more vigilant in fighting bed bugs if they know prospective tenants will find out.
“I also want it to be an incentive for them to ensure that apartments and buildings are properly treated for bed bugs,” she said.
This is the latest bed-bug regulation to become law. The City Council created a task force and allocated $500,000 to create a web portal with information on preventing and getting rid of bed bugs.
The Rent Stabilization Association, a group representing property owners, believes the new law unfairly targets landlords for a problem often caused by tenants.
“Why was there no requirement enacted into law that a tenant has a legal obligation to inform an owner about the presence of bed bugs?” said Mitchell Posilkin, general counsel to the Rent Stabilization Association. “All of a sudden, a landlord gets associated with having a bed bug problem that’s already been cured.”
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