What are tenants rights regarding bed bugs in NYC?
People often ask, what are my rights regarding bed bugs? Who is responsible to pay for getting rid of them? Will my landlord pay for a K9 inspection?
Bed bugs are pests that are best dealt with by using bed bug professional services. These services can range anywhere from hiring a certified bed bug dog for an inspection, using a bed bug prep company, using a bed bug laundry service, and hiring a pest control operator that specializes in eradicating bed bugs.
In NYC tenants have a right to live in a bed bug free environment. This means it is the landlord’s responsibility to provide pest control treatment. Bed bugs are listed in the NYC Housing and Maintenance Code Subchapter 3, Article 4 it states “Pest. The term “pest” means any unwanted member of the Class Insecta, including, but not limited to houseflies, lice, bees, cockroaches, moths, silverfish, beetles, bedbugs, ants, termites, hornets, mosquitos and wasps, and such members of the Phylum Arthropoda as spiders, mites, ticks, centipedes and woodlice, or of the Order Rodentia, including but not limited to mice, Norway rats, and any other unwanted plant, animal or fungal life that is a pest because it is destructive, annoying or a nuisance.”
Then in Chapter 2 subdivision §27–2017.8, it goes on to state that the landlord is responsible for providing a pest-free living environment. It then states that the landlord must also eliminate points of entry and passage by pests. Bed bugs are included in the definition of a pest, in the above paragraph. So this statement also infers that the landlord should seal any cracks and crevices within your apartment. Having a lot of cracks and crevices near the moldings and steam pipes could be a problem if there are bed bugs found in an apartment. The bed bug removal must also be done by a licensed pest control person. Many times I am at doing a K9 inspection and the tenant informs me that the landlord has been having the Super of the building treat the apartment for bed bugs and roaches. This is not allowed and not the proper way to deal with bed bugs.
If a building is dealing with an ongoing bed bug issue and has been issued violations; according to the NYC Housing and Maintenance Code (Chapter 2 subdivision §27–2017.8) the owner must use “integrated pest management measures”. These measures include inspection, physical removal, sealing of gaps, and application of pesticides. The inspection part is where a bed bug dog will come in handy. A bed bug dog can search 20 apartments in a few hours, whereas a human doing the same job would require 8-20 hours of intensive searching and moving of heavy furniture.
So all of this says that it is the building owners responsibility to pay for and eradicate bed bugs. Many building owners pay for a K9 inspection, some buildings even have a contract with a bed bug dog company. The dog will search the entire building 1-4 times per year, depending on what the building owner wants. Other buildings just call in the dog if any tenant complains of possible bed bugs or if a tenant reports bite like marks then some building management companies immediately call a K9 inspection company. Other building owners will only pay for the treatment of bed bugs but not pay for a bed bug dog. You won’t know whether your landlord will pay for the bed bug dog unless you let them know about your possible issue.
Tenants also have a right to the properties previous year bedbug infestation history. (subdivision §27–2018.1) This bed bug infestation history is required by building owners to be reported to the DEC yearly. The bed bug infestation report is submitted electronically by the landlord and is supposed to be provided to each tenant yearly. This is stated in Section §27–2018.2. This mandate that was signed into law on August 31, 2010, states that new and old residential tenants in New York City be given a one-year bed bug infestation history.
Bed bugs are not anyone’s fault, anyone no matter where they live can pick up bed bugs. I have done inspections in penthouses, NYCHA apartments, mansions in the Hamptons, buildings on Central Park West, bed bugs do not discriminate based on the address! Bed bugs have nothing to do with being clean or dirty. They are creatures that feed on blood, so cleanliness is not the issue.
Everybody in New York has a right to a bed bug free environment. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) lists bedbugs as a Class B violation, which means that they are considered hazardous and that the landlord has 30 days to correct the problem. If the landlord doesn’t want to get in trouble with HPD then they must eradicate the infestation and keep the affected units from getting reinfested. For some buildings, this might mean the landlord should hire a bed bug inspection company to do quarterly K9 inspections.
I hope this has helped you figure out what your rights are as a NYC tenant regarding bed bugs. You can also always call 311 and they can help answer any questions that you have regarding a possible bed bug issue.
If you are a landlord dealing with a bed bug issue, please call or text us 718 964 3484 and our bed bug sniffing dog can help you solve the problem.