On what may someday be considered a monumental day in the annals of bedbug history, Governor Paterson has signed into law the bedbug disclosure bill. Yes, starting immediately, New York City landlords have to tell prospective tenants — in writing — if there has been a bedbug problem in the building within the past year. Yay! Sort of.
What with our extensive investigations on the bedbug front, we know that those sneaky little insects can live up to a year on one “blood meal.” So this isn’t the be-all end-all in terms of bedbug legislation, but it should at least help one identify a place where one most definitely does not want to move.
According to New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill,
“Nothing is more horrifying than signing a lease after a lengthy apartment search only to discover that your new apartment is bedbug-infested. By requiring landlords to disclose infestations before the lease is signed, people will have a means of guarding themselves against exposure to this plague.”
While surely there are a few things more horrifying (finding a dead body in that apartment after you’ve signed a lease following a lengthy apartment search comes to mind), this is a good thing for new renters. Unfortunately, if you already live in a building, you have no legal right to learn about your building’s bedbug status. And while sellers are required to disclose bedbug problems if asked about them specifically, buyers have no legal right to find out if the neighbors, or other parts of the building, are infested.
We’ll also note that bedbugs don’t give a shit about this legislation — they’ll infest you just as soon as meet you, assuming they like your flavor. And they’ll probably infest us all, eventually. Which means early adopters of bedbug-infested apartments may snag quite the bargains in rent, although most of that savings will have to go toward ointment.