Legislature Passes Bedbug-Notification Law

A bill passed by both houses of the State Legislature on Thursday would require New York City landlords to tell prospective tenants about a building’s recent bedbug history.

Under the measure, which will become law once Gov. David A. Paterson
signs it, landlords must inform incoming tenants whether the apartment
under consideration or another in the same building had been infested
within the previous year.

“Bedbugs are bipartisan when it comes to snacking on blood,” said the
bill’s prime sponsor, Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, a Democrat from
the Upper West Side. “So it’s a bill that appeals to everybody
regardless of political affiliation.”

If the measure becomes law, landlords will have to include disclosure
forms when they hand over vacancy leases, in a process to be overseen
by the State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

The bill passed despite opposition from some Republicans who, Ms.
Rosenthal said, argued that the disclosure would stigmatize buildings
and drive property values down.

Complaints about bedbugs have soared
in New York City in recent years. According to the city’s Department of
Housing Preservation and Development, nearly 11,000 calls about bedbugs
were made to the city’s 311 help line, compared with 537 in the fiscal
year 2004. The number of confirmed infestations has also risen sharply,
to 4,084 last year from 82 six years ago.

Ms. Rosenthal said she wrote the bill after being flooded with
complaints from constituents and friends who had been besieged by
bedbugs. She said she hoped to introduce a similar disclosure bill next
year that would apply statewide.

She has also introduced a bill that would give bedbug victims a 15
percent credit on the state personal income tax, for up to $750, to
compensate for replacing furniture infested by bedbugs, though said she
did not anticipate that bill’s passing until the state attains economic

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