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My apartment had bed bugs 5 years ago. Is it safe for me to move in?

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Q: I looked up a prospective rental on the Bed Bug Registry, and found out that there were bed bugs in the building five years ago. If the problem is that far in the past, is it safe to rent, or should I move on just to be safe?

It's wise to research a rental before forking over a deposit, but our experts say what you found on the bed bug registry isn't necessarily a deal breaker.

"That a building had an issue or several is common, and if they have been addressed, there's no reason not to move in," says Gil Bloom, President of Standard Pest Management. Bloom also notes that while the Bed Bug Registry is supposed to remove claims after two years of inactivity, addresses often remain on the site even after years without a bed bug complaint. (To cross-check your building's bed bug status, plug your potential address into HPD's Building Information System, and it will pull up its history of violations, including bed bug complaints.)

If the problem has been resolved, you should be in the clear, but Bloom notes that if there are numerous apartments with unresolved issues, consider this a red flag. Also keep in mind that the burden of research isn't totally on you: As we've written previously, state law requires that management give prospective renters a one-year history of the building's bed bug activity—you can check out the form, below (click to expand):

Granted, landlords don't always provide this form to renters, and face few consequences if they don't. As in all things real estate-related, you may need to be the squeaky wheel on this front and ask to see the history when you apply. If you're satisfied with what you find and do decide to move in, Bloom notes that it never hurts to take preventative measures, and you may want to consider using something like silica gel (find out more about it here) in your apartment's "gaps, cracks, around radiators, and under sinks," then finish it off with a quality sealant. "This can assist with a number of pests like roaches, silverfish, and bed bugs," he says.


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