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Effective immediately, New York City landlords must let prospective tenants know in writing if an apartment has suffered a bed bug infestation within the past year, or if there has been a bed bug problem in the building during that time.

““New York City tenants have been living in fear of bedbugs, and I am excited to offer them this new protection,” said New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill, in a press release issued this afternoon.

“Nothing is more horrifying than signing a lease after a lengthy apartment search only to discover that your new apartment is bedbug-infested," said the Upper West Side assemblymember. "By requiring landlords to disclose infestations before the lease is signed, people will have a means of guarding themselves against exposure to this plague.”

The law is a positive step in the direction of bed bug transparency, but it is a first step.

Existing renters still have no legal right to learn whether there is a bed bug problem in their building. This information is important to put pressure on lax landlords to take adequate steps to control the spread of bugs from apartment to apartment  and so that renters can take their own precautions. (See How to bed bug proof your NYC apartment. )

Then there is the matter of prospective buyers in co-op and condo buildings.

While sellers must disclose a bed bug problem in their apartment if asked about it, buyers still have no legal right to learn, for example, whether there is a bed bug problem in the apartment next door or even a major infestation in the building that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to eradicate.

Related posts:

How to bed bug proof your apartment 

The day after: How to buy or rent an apartment without bed bugs

Insurance companies could soon be paying for your bed bugs

All the Mayor's friends have bed bugs

To squash a "pest like no other," Mayor's panel calls for Bed Bug Czar, massive public ed, speedier courts

My babysitter has bed bugs

When bed bugs move in down the hall

Bed bug disclosure bill sails through NYS legislature

New clues on how bed bugs spread through apartment buildings

Beyond bed bugs

All bed bug stories here.

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