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Proposed Bedbug Bill Requires Landlords to Disclose Infestation History
Two bills under consideration would provide renters protection and compensation
By GRACE WEST
Updated 8:00 PM EDT, Thu, May 13, 2010
“Don’t let the bedbugs bite” is easier said than done for many New Yorkers.
One state Assemblymember is pushing legislation that would require landlords to divulge any history of bedbug infestation to potential renters and another that would offer compensation for expenses accrued from dealing with infestations.
Linda B. Rosenthal, who represents the Upper West Side and parts of Hell’s Kitchen, introduced the two-bill legislation in mid-March as an effort to combat New York’s growing bedbug problem.
“As the scourge of bedbugs continues in New York, I am committed to giving my constituents the tools to protect themselves both epidemiologically and financially from this plague,” Rosenthal said in a statement.
The first bill would require the disclosure of any instance of bedbug infestation dating back five years. A memo in the bill states that the justification for the legislation is that “prospective tenants have a right to access relevant documentation regarding the history of bedbugs within their new living spaces” because the information is essential to making an informed decision.
“People who have gone through the plague of bedbugs are happy that I’m trying to address some the issues they’ve had to deal with -- people who are long-time tenets who somehow get bedbugs or new tenets who move in to discover an infestation and have to deal with it,” Rosenthal told NBCNewYork.
After the bill was referred to the housing committee, it was amended and recommitted on April 20. The bill originally included the more complicated issue of apartment sales as well, so was amended to make the bill easier to pass. Rosenthal does support the protection of homebuyers and seeks to advance it in the future.
“Bedbugs are an enormous expense, and there is no mechanism right now to get that money back,” Rosenthal said. “I thought the state has responsibility to try and deal with it in some way.”
The second bill provides a tax credit of up to $750 to help with the cost of replacing property lost due to bedbug infestations. This property includes furniture, bedding, clothing, and any other belonging discarded during the extermination process. Since most renters or homeowners insurance does not cover bedbug infestation, the bill seeks to assist affected New Yorkers by offering a “modest tax credit.”
“If the state were in better economic condition perhaps the tax credit could be higher,” said Rosenthal. “But we’re in a precarious economic state, so offering high tax credit was impossible. We think what we came up with is more feasible.”
However, it is not clear when the two bills will be voted on in Albany.