Buildings need to be kept nonhazardous and safe for their tenants. Bed bugs end up being a threat to the health and comfort of tenants. These pests don’t spread disease, but do create itchy marks on most people who are bitten by them.
In the event of an infestation, it is not impossible to rid them from the space, but it is difficult. Immediate action needs to be taken, or they will quickly spread and be very expensive to tackle. Tenant complaints or suspicions should be taken seriously by building owners and managers. Tenants should be encouraged to be open and report a problem or suspicion as soon as they can. The sooner they are identified, the quicker and easier the overall problem can be solved. If tenants have received information and materials about how to identify the signs of bed bugs, they will be able to report them sooner.
Local Law 69 of 2017
As of November 6, 2017, property owners must begin to attempt to obtain the bed bug history of every unit. As of now, there are not actually any details provided by the DOB about report specifications. This creates a suboptimal situation, since the law has been passed, but the department has not released exactly what they want, and haven’t yet launched a reporting service on DOB Now.
Starting December 2018, annual reports about every unit’s bed bug history must be filed with the HPD. These reports must also be shared with tenants. This is meant to inform current tenants about any problems in their building and create a sense of transparency. With more data from throughout the whole city, infestations will be able to be mapped out more accurately in a first step to solving this problem.
People can contact 311 to make a complaint about bed bugs. HPD may conduct an inspection if there is a report made about a residential building, hotel, or Single Room Occupancy (SRO).
There are canines available to sniff out bed bugs if a complaint is made. The canine unite has made over 25,0000 inspections for possible bed bugs. These dogs have up to 40 times more scent reception than humans, and are able to smell them. The beagles are trained to sit down if they detect these bugs.
If the property owner consents to this type of inspection, there are rules to follow before these animals can come into the space. Things that need to be removed include other pets, toys, pet food, water, potpourri, deodorizers, air fresheners. There needs to be as little distraction as possible, with clutter removed. Windows and doors need to be shut two hours prior, air conditioners, heaters, and ceiling fans turned off 30 minutes prior, and any smoking and cooking over with two hours prior.
If the property owner does not consent to the animals’ presence, a visual inspection will be completed without them.
The units adjacent to and above and below the infested unit should be inspected as well to see if they have spread.
Legally, landlords must remove vermin. If bed bugs are found, the building owner will receive a ticket, as they are considered a class B violation. Failing to notify the tenants of the entire building when there has been an infestation can result in a Notice of Violation (NOV) and an ECB hearing.
Tenants can make complaints with the city and even go to housing court, so it is in the best interest of building owners to react as quick as possible. Complaints can be made for a specific apartment, or an anonymous complaint can be made on behalf of the entire building.
Make sure that you pay attention to what exterminators tell you about their services. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It generally takes a few visits for the job to be completely done. Do not overdo it with the pesticides. Pay close attention to what they are doing, and make sure you hire someone who is licensed and is a specialist in bed bugs specifically, not just general pests. Calling for an interview and asking for references is a good way to narrow down the companies that know what they’re doing.