A Guide to Navigating New York State Bed Bug Laws

In New York, specific laws like Local Law 69 of 2017 mandate landlords to report and disclose bed bug histories, emphasizing proactive pest management, as well as the protection of tenant rights. This comprehensive guide delves into the responsibilities and strategies for both landlords and tenants in preventing and addressing bed bug infestations, highlighting the importance of cooperation and transparency for a bed bug-free living environment.

By
Gemma Smith
|
Last Updated
March 18, 2024
A Guide to Navigating New York State Bed Bug Laws

In densely populated areas like New York City, where the close proximity of living spaces can facilitate the spread of bed bugs, robust legislative measures are necessary. Bed bug infestations not only pose physical and psychological challenges to residents but also can lead to significant financial burdens.

As such, lawmakers have taken proactive steps to establish a framework that ensures landlords are accountable for maintaining habitable living conditions, including addressing bed bug infestations promptly and transparently. These regulations safeguard the well-being of tenants and foster a sense of trust and security within the rental community, highlighting the collective commitment to mitigating the challenges posed by these resilient pests.

Bed bug laws in New York State

While New York State law does not specifically mention bed bugs, it mandates that landlords maintain habitable living conditions, which necessitates addressing bed bug infestations, as they compromise habitability.

However, a New York State law has been introduced that would obligate landlords to inform potential tenants about previous bed bug infestations, allowing tenants the option to decline the rental if concerned. Additionally, the New York State Senate is considering requiring landlords to notify existing tenants of bed bug infestations within twenty-four hours upon discovery.

In New York City, bed bugs are categorized as a Class B violation that pose a risk to human health, and landlords are responsible for completing extermination within 30 days.

Key bed bug laws and regulations in New York City

Local Law 69 of 2017 in New York mandates two crucial obligations for landlords of multiple dwellings regarding bed bug infestations:

1. Bed bug history report

First, Local Law 69 necessitates the annual submission of a bed bug history report to the city, detailing any infestations and the eradication measures taken within each apartment over the past year. This report aims to track and manage bed bug issues systematically across the city.

2. Bed bug disclosure

Secondly, the law requires landlords to disclose a one-year history of bed bug infestations to new tenants for both the specific unit they are moving into and the building at large. This disclosure is designed to inform tenants about past bed bug problems, ensuring transparency and helping them make informed decisions about their new living environment.

Together, these requirements highlight the importance of proactive management and transparency in addressing bed bugs in New York's residential properties.

HPD regulations for bed bug management

Following the overview of key bed bug laws, it's key to understand the role of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in enforcing these regulations. The HPD sets forth guidelines that landlords must follow to ensure the effective management and eradication of bed bug infestations:

  • Violation issuance: The HPD plays a role in ensuring compliance with bed bug management laws. When a tenant reports a bed bug infestation, an HPD inspection will be conducted to verify the claim. If the inspection confirms the presence of bed bugs, the landlord will receive a violation notice. This notice is a legal mandate requiring the landlord to promptly address and rectify the bed bug problem, emphasizing the importance of swift action in maintaining a healthy living environment.
  • Record keeping: To ensure accountability and transparency, the HPD regulations mandate that landlords maintain comprehensive records of all bed bug eradication efforts. This includes detailed documentation of inspections, treatments, and all forms of communication with tenants regarding the infestation and its management. These records must be kept for at least one year, serving as a vital resource for tracking the effectiveness of eradication efforts and providing proof of compliance with bed bug management regulations.

These HPD regulations underscore the collaborative responsibility of landlords and tenants in addressing bed bug infestations. By adhering to these guidelines, landlords can not only comply with legal requirements but also demonstrate their commitment to providing safe and healthy living conditions for their tenants.

Bed bug disclosure template

A bed bug disclosure for a rental agreement in New York typically informs prospective and current tenants of the property's bed bug infestation history in compliance with Local Law 69 of 2017. This law requires landlords to disclose the bed bug infestation history of the specific unit being rented, as well as the building as a whole, for the year prior to the lease signing.

Here's an example of how such a disclosure might be worded in a rental lease agreement:

Bed bug infestation history disclosure

In accordance with Local Law 69 of 2017, we are required to inform you of the bed bug infestation history for rental residential properties on the premises located at [Property Address], including your specific rental unit as well as the building as a whole.

Unit-specific history

The rental unit you are about to lease, Unit [Number/ID], has had the following bed bug infestation history in the past year: [Provide details of any known infestations within the last year, including dates of reported infestations, treatments applied, and dates of resolution. If no infestations were reported or known, state "No known bed bug infestations were reported in the past year."]

Building-wide history

The building has experienced the following bed bug infestation history in the past year: [Provide a summary of any known bed bug infestations in the building, not limited to the specific unit being rented, including any treatments and resolutions. If no infestations were reported or known in the building, state "No known bed bug infestations were reported in the building in the past year."]

Acknowledgment

By signing below, you acknowledge receipt of this bed bug infestation history disclosure. You understand your rights and responsibilities regarding bed bug infestation reporting and cooperation with eradication efforts, should bed bugs be detected during your tenancy.

Tenant's Signature: ___________________________ Date: ___________

Landlord's/Agent's Signature: __________________ Date: ___________

Preventing bed bug infestations

Preventing bed bug infestations is significantly easier and more cost-effective than eradicating them once they've established a foothold.

For landlords, this involves conducting regular inspections and maintaining the property to minimize hiding places for bed bugs. Educating tenants on the signs of bed bugs and encouraging the reporting of any potential infestations as early as possible are also key strategies.

Tenants, on their part, can reduce the risk of introducing bed bugs into the property by inspecting second-hand furniture before bringing it into their homes and by being vigilant about bed bugs when traveling.

Both parties can benefit from the use of mattress encasements and by reducing clutter that can provide bed bugs with hiding spots.

Getting rid of bed bug infestations

Once bed bugs are detected, quick and decisive action is necessary to prevent their spread. Landlords should engage licensed pest control professionals who can assess the situation, recommend a course of action, and treat the infestation using approved methods.

These may include chemical treatments, heat treatments, or a combination of tactics designed to eliminate bed bugs at all life stages. Tenants will need to cooperate fully with these efforts, which may include preparing their living spaces for treatment and following post-treatment recommendations to prevent re-infestation.

It’s important for both landlords and tenants to understand that managing a bed bug infestation is a collaborative effort, requiring open communication and adherence to the pest control professional’s guidance.

By taking preventive measures and responding swiftly to any signs of bed bugs, landlords and tenants can work together to maintain bed bug-free living environments. This cooperative approach not only ensures compliance with New York's bed bug laws but also promotes a healthier, more comfortable living situation for all occupants.

Non-toxic methods available for eradicating bed bugs

Eradicating bed bugs in a non-toxic manner is crucial for maintaining a safe living environment, especially in spaces with children, pets, or individuals with health concerns. Here are several effective non-toxic bed bug extermination strategies:

1. Heat treatment

Bed bugs and their eggs die when exposed to high temperatures. Professional exterminators often use specialized equipment to heat the entire room or home to at least 118°F (47.8°C) for over 90 minutes. Smaller items like bedding, clothing, and toys can be treated in a clothes dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes.

2. Steam cleaning

Steam can penetrate into fabrics, cracks, and crevices, killing bed bugs on contact. Use a steam cleaner with a narrow nozzle to direct steam precisely where needed, ensuring the steam temperature is at least 160-180°F (71-82°C) at the point of contact. This method is ideal for mattresses, furniture, and curtains.

3. Diatomaceous earth (DE)

DE is a powder made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. It works by dehydrating bed bugs through the abrasion of their exoskeletons. Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be lightly dusted in bed bug-prone areas but should be used cautiously as inhaling the dust can irritate lungs.

4. Vacuuming

Regularly vacuuming can help reduce bed bug populations by physically removing them from surfaces. Focus on mattresses, bed frames, baseboards, and any cracks or crevices. Seal and dispose of the vacuum bag immediately to prevent captured bed bugs from escaping.

5. Encasements

Using special bed bug-proof encasements for mattresses, box springs, and pillows can trap bed bugs inside, eventually leading to their death and preventing new bed bugs from penetrating. Make sure the encasements are durable and have been tested for bed bugs.

6. Essential oils

Some essential oils, like tea tree, lavender, and peppermint, have been cited for their potential to repel or kill bed bugs upon direct contact. However, their effectiveness is limited, and they should not be relied upon as the sole treatment method. They can be used in conjunction with other methods for a comprehensive approach.

7. Freezing

While less practical for large-scale infestations, freezing can kill bed bugs. Items placed in a freezer set to 0°F (-18°C) for at least four days can effectively kill bed bugs. Ensure items are placed in plastic bags to avoid moisture damage.

When applying these methods, it's important to note that bed bugs are resilient pests. A multi-faceted approach often yields the best results. For severe infestations, consulting with a professional pest control service that offers non-toxic treatment options is advisable to ensure complete eradication.

Who is responsible for any damage caused by bed bugs?

In New York rentals, determining who is responsible for damages caused by bed bugs hinges on various factors, including the promptness of reporting the infestation, evidence of negligence, and the actions taken to address the problem.

Generally, landlords are responsible for ensuring their properties are free from infestations and must take immediate action to address any reports of bed bugs. If a landlord fails to act swiftly or adequately to eradicate bed bugs, leading to damage or loss of tenants' personal property, the landlord could potentially be held liable for those damages.

Conversely, if a tenant's actions or negligence leads to a bed bug infestation, such as by bringing in infested furniture, the tenant might be responsible for some of the costs associated with addressing the bed bug infestation and related damages. However, proving such negligence can be challenging on the landlord's end.

The responsibility for damages often comes down to specific circumstances and evidence of negligence or failure to fulfill legal obligations. Legal interpretations and court decisions can vary, making it important for both landlords and tenants to document their actions and communications regarding bed bug management.

In disputes over responsibility for damages, consultation with a legal professional may be necessary to navigate the complexities of New York's housing laws and regulations.

Living in a bed bug-free environment

The fight against bed bugs in New York rentals is governed by a clear set of laws and regulations designed to protect tenants and maintain the integrity of rental properties. Local Law 69 of 2017 and HPD regulations outline the responsibilities of landlords in reporting, disclosing, and eradicating bed bug infestations, emphasizing the need for prompt action and transparency.

Preventive measures and effective eradication strategies are crucial in managing these pests. When infestations occur, a collaborative approach between landlords and tenants, guided by licensed pest control professionals, is essential for swift resolution.

Additionally, understanding the legal landscape surrounding liability for damages caused by bed bugs underscores the importance of diligence and cooperation from both parties. Navigating bed bug laws and regulations in New York requires awareness, adherence, and action, ensuring safe and habitable living conditions for all residents.

New York State bed bug law FAQs

Are landlords responsible for bed bugs in New York State?

Yes, landlords in New York State are generally responsible for addressing and eliminating bed bug infestations in rental properties. New York's housing laws require landlords to maintain habitable environments for tenants, which includes pest-free conditions.

Local Law 69 of 2017 further mandates landlords of multiple dwellings to annually report bed bug infestation histories and to disclose this information to new tenants. If bed bugs are found, landlords must promptly hire licensed pest control professionals to treat the infestation and take steps to exterminate bed bugs and prevent their recurrence.

How long is the quarantine period for bed bugs?

There is no officially-mandated "quarantine period" for bed bugs as there might be for diseases or pests in agriculture. However, the time needed to effectively eliminate a bed bug infestation can vary depending on the severity of the infestation, the methods used for eradication, and the level of cooperation from tenants.

Professional extermination typically involves multiple visits spaced out over several weeks. It's crucial to follow the pest control professional's guidance on treatment and prevention measures during and after extermination efforts to ensure complete eradication.

What to do if you have bed bugs in NYC?

  1. Notify your landlord: If you're renting, inform your landlord immediately upon discovery of bed bugs. New York City law requires landlords to address and eliminate bed bug infestations promptly.
  2. Prepare for inspection: Clear clutter and provide access to all areas of your home for the pest control professionals to conduct a thorough inspection.
  3. Follow professional advice: Adhere to the exterminator's instructions for preparation and post-treatment actions. This may include washing textiles in hot water, vacuuming regularly, and encasing mattresses and box springs.
  4. Minimize spread: Avoid moving items from the infested area to other parts of your home or to another location to prevent spreading the infestation.
  5. Document everything: Keep records of all communications with your landlord and the pest control professionals, including dates of discovery, notifications, treatments, and any expenses incurred.

If your landlord refuses or does not take appropriate action to deal with the bed bug infestation, you may file a complaint with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Remember, successful eradication and prevention require cooperation between tenants and landlords, alongside adherence to professional pest management practices.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date legal information. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a legal professional.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at Azibo.com. While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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