Q. What should I and my adjacent neighbors do before extermination begins?
A. Move quickly to pack belongings in plastic bags so that the apartments can be treated. The burden and responsibility fall on you, because by the time a board can get court-ordered permission to treat the apartment of uncooperative owners, it may be too late to stop an infestation spreading.
Q. Is the board required to notify the entire co-op or condo?
A. As of October 2010, New York City's Administrative Code Section 27-2018.1 provides that rental buildings and cooperatives (where there is technically a landlord / tenant relationship due to each co-op’s proprietary lease) must disclose prior infestations in the past year. As a result of this, boards and managing agents now keep records on all infestations and have each tenant sign a disclosure form upon selling and vacating an apartment.
One legal view is that the implied warranty of habitability under Real Property Law (RPL) Section 235-b, gives co-op boards, but not condos, a duty to eradicate bed ug infestation under that same landlord / tenant relationship. As such, co-ops are responsible for the extermination costs and also have a duty to evict an owner who doesn't follow instructions and coordinate with efforts to eradicate the bugs.
While condominiums do not fall under these laws, the real estate industry has adopted what one attorney calls a "provisional" consensus that notification can help control the spread of bedbugs and should be done. This may become formalized in the future as courts, agencies and perhaps even the legislature again weigh in.
Q. What are some ways that exterminators deal with bedbugs?
A. Because every building is different, different methods may apply. The exterminator may treat the insides of the infested apartments' walls with a powder called Delta Dust (deltamethrin), and then heat cracks and crevices to 285 degrees and treat them with a chemical cocktail. Sometimes the infested areas are fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride, commonly known as Vikane. (Note: There is controversy about the use of this chemical.) In cases of storage areas, a common site for infestation, one building had two porters and a security guard pack the room’s contents, which were taken offsite and fumigated while the empty basement storage rooms were treated with heat and repeatedly vacuumed.
In that particular case, the board in conjunction with its attorney instituted new, prominently posted rules for the storage bins, specifying that every item be double-wrapped in air-tight plastic or placed in a plastic bin with an air-tight gasket.
Q. What informational resources are available?
A. The Bed Bug Blog keeps a running list of properties where residents have reported problems, as a warning to those who might unwittingly move in. Another site, Bed Bugs Removal Guide, focuses on treatment once bitten, with some graphic imagery of bites. The Bed Bug Registry reports on infestations in hotels and apartment buildings across North America.
New York City’s the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene maintains the website “Bed Bugs: Information, Resources & Management," which contains a large amount of homeowner-oriented information, tips and new developments.
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