A bill that would make landlords responsible for bed bug extermination has passed committee and is headed to the New Jersey Assembly. Introduced by Assembly Democrats L. Grace Spencer, Shavonda Sumter and Cleopatra Tucker, the bill clearly spells out the responsibilities of both landlords and tenants when bed bugs infest multifamily buildings.
The legislation was sparked by complaints from tenants whose landlords charged them for bed bug extermination when a series of severe bed bug infestations struck multiple Jersey City apartment complexes in 2011. At the time, tenant Chi Chi Phillips told ABC Eyewitness News, “I went in the hallway; I just scooped them up; they’re falling from the ceiling.”
Recognizing that a communal effort is required to exterminate bed bugs in multifamily housing, the bill specifies the responsibilities of landlords, tenants and the public health department in preventing and exterminating these noxious pests. Property owners would not only be responsible for bed bug extermination; they would also be required to distribute to tenants bed bug prevention pamphlets prepared by the Department of Health and Senior Services.
For their part, tenants would be required to report bed bug presence to their landlords, permit bed bug inspections of their apartments and could be held responsible for certain costs related to bed bug extermination.
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