This week’s New York Magazine takes a riveting look at how wealthy Upper East Siders are dealing with our city’s bed bug epidemic.
In a word: Quietly.
One exterminator says he receives 50 to 75 calls about UES bed bugs every week:
His clients include movie directors, hospitals, white-shoe law firms, high-end schools, and “titans of Wall Street I can’t name to you or they’d crush me.”
To cater to his clients’ privacy concerns, [the exterminator] often operates incognito. “We go after-hours and pull up in unmarked vans. The guys put on leather jackets, to look like plumbers or regular guys, and sneak into the buildings. They change into their suits up in the apartment.” Because co-op boards and management companies often take pains to deny that their buildings have bedbug issues, the word bedbugs is now a regular feature in Upper East Side real-estate contracts.
The story also points out that the city’s bed bug problem is vastly underreported – in part because renters are usually the only ones calling 311 to report a problem, to put pressure on landlords to exterminate.
Meanwhile, residents in approximately 25% of the city's housing stock—co-ops and condos—want to handle the problem in-house:
That wealthy bedbug victims tend to own their homes—expensive homes that might end up far less expensive were a bedbug infestation to become public knowledge—also promotes heightened discretion. Exterminators who service the neighborhood trawl around in unmarked vans and are sworn not to divulge their clients’ identities. Co-op boards and building superintendents engage in strict denials
Of course, once everybody has bed bugs, the effect on property values will be nil.
But let's hope it doesn't come to that: The city is expected to release the findings and recommendations of its Bed Bug Advisory Board soon. With a good plan and proper funding, maybe by this time next year we can say that the bed bugs are losing.
Click here to see all of BrickUnderground's bed bug coverage.