The Low Down on Bed Bugs in New York City

Bedbug

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As of August 2010, landlords in New York State have an obligation to disclose a history of bed bug infestation to prospective tenants of a building.  Practically, this means that if you intend to move into a rental in a condo, co-op or a rental building  the landlord must provide you with a DBB-N (Notice to Tenant: Disclosure of Bedbug Infestation) that discloses whether there have been any bedbug infestations in the building within the past year.  Both the tenant and the landlord must sign this document when leases are signed.  However, landlords are not legally required to provide the disclosure to existing tenants in a building who are considering renewing a lease.

Landlords have worried that such a requirement will make it difficult to rent any apartment in a building that has seen bed bugs, regardless of how small or large the infestation was and how effective the treatment was.  Supporters of the law counter that it will place appropriate pressure on landlords to properly respond to problems and point out that after one year, landlords are no longer required to disclose a history of bed beg problems.  In 2009, 311 reported 33,772 bed bug related inquires.  In 2010, complaints were up by over 5%.  The city has spent over $500,000 on its strategy to deal with the problem which includes an information campaign and a dedicated staff.

But what happens when the problem has already occurred?  Who must shoulder the responsibility of eradication?  In answering this question, it is best to consult an attorney who can examine the particular facts of your situation and advise you accordingly.  A local tenants’ rights organization may also be of help.  That being said, there are a few generalizations that may be useful to a tenant in the midst of a bed bug crisis.  You should begin by contacting your landlord immediately.  If they fail to address the issue begin contacting 311 and keep records of your complaints.  Keep at the landlord and document the infestation as well.  The Department of Housing Preservation and Development should send an inspector in response to your 311 complaints.  If the inspector finds evidence of the critters, a violation will be issued to the landlord.  The violation will provide the landlord with up to ninety days to deal with the infestation (depending on the severity of the problem).  If the landlord fails to respond in a timely manner, the tenant must turn to the housing part of the New York City Civil Court.  A lawyer should certainly be consulted at this point.

It should also be noted that owners of condos or co-ops are generally responsible for their own pest control.  However, if there is a large infestation across multiple apartments and the source cannot be identified, the building’s managing agent may sometimes be called on to address the issue at the cost of the association or cooperative.  It should also be noted that there are some exceptions to a landlord’s obligations to a tenant.  For example, in a building with three or fewer units, the tenant may be responsible for any costs associated with the treatment of their unit.  A tenant may also be responsible if the infestation was caused by their negligence – again, if you require legal advice, seek out an attorney versed in housing matters.

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About Akerly Real Estate

Mike Akerly grew up in Orange County, CA and lived in Irvine until he left to attend the University of Southern California. After graduating with a BA in Political Science, he worked in talent and literary representation at agencies and management firms such as ICM in Beverly Hills and Media Talent Group in West Hollywood. While there, he had the opportunity to work on behalf of artists such as Angelina Jolie, Billy Bob Thornton, Mira Sorvino, Forest Whitaker, Robert Rodriguez, Danny Boyle, and Baz Luhrmann. While in Los Angeles, Mr. Akerly began his career in real estate as a landlord in Orange County before moving on to New York City to attend law school at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. There, he completed his Juris Doctor with concentrations in real property law and corporate law while he continued his real estate investments with acquisitions in Manhattan. Today he is licensed in California, New York, and Massachusetts. Kate Akerly was born in New Jersey and raised in California. She attended college in Los Angeles where she received her BS in sociology from Mt. Saint Mary’s College. After college, Kate was introduced to real estate as a landlord in Orange County, California. She later moved to New York City where she worked for a city agency that handles civil complaints of alleged misconduct on the part of the New York Police Department. After being promoted to Senior Investigator, she decided to move on to begin her career in real estate brokerage. Kate is now a licensed real estate salesperson who has handled more than one hundred New York City real estate transactions. Mike and Kate now work together from their TriBeCa office in New York City. Together they service clients in residential and commercial brokerage throughout the boroughs. The team also considers investment opportunities in multi-family properties, mortgages, and trust deeds, nationwide. During their free time the two enjoy travel, good wine, great food, and friends. They have advanced certifications in deep water scuba diving and are avid skiers and snowboarders. They reside in Greenwich Village in New York City. If you are interested in purchasing, selling, or leasing residential or multi-family property in New York, California, or Massachusetts, please contact the Akerly Real Estate Team at (212) 400-4838 or via e-mail at KeytotheCity@AkerlyRE.com.
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