Finding safe and affordable housing in New York is challenging. Because many individuals are desperate to find a place to stay, they often settle in places that violate buildings codes, including space with mold, bugs or unsafe stairways. Thankfully, new legislation is holding landlords more accountable.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Job Creation approved laws that explain the obligations and responsibilities both landlords and tenants have to ensure rented property remains free from bedbugs. However, even when the new law is in place, it still cuts tenants a bit short on their rights.
Under the new law, landlords are prohibited from leasing space that is infested with bedbugs. Although bedbugs do not carry diseases, they do bite. Bites from bedbugs typically swell and itch, and the discomfort lasts longer than the discomfort from mosquito bites. In addition, the more times a person is bitten, the faster the discomfort develops.
If a tenant discovers that he or she has a bedbug problem, it must be reported to the landlord. Upon learning about the problem, the landlord is required to hire a pest control company that can fix the problem within seven days. If the landlord fails to do so, the tenant can hire someone to treat the problem. In that event, the landlord is responsible for reimbursing the tenant for the treatment, though he or she is only responsible for repaying $500 or half the rent, whichever is greater.
The new legislation is a good step toward protecting tenants from injuries in their apartments, but it still places a great deal of responsibility on the tenant. While it is a good starting point, hopefully it is not the last step. Tenants should not be punished or held financially responsible for injuries that were caused because of negligence on the part of the landlord.
Source: East Valley Tribune, “Don’t let bedbugs bite: Legislation spells out duties of landlords, tenants,” Howard Fischer, 9 February 2011