Chicago vs. Bed Bugs

Advocating policy to control the spread of bed bugs in the City of Chicago

New Bed Bug Bill in NJ Assembly

Posted by Jessica on December 9, 2008

Landlords, I’m hitting you pretty hard this week.  It is not my intent to single you out, for the record.  I truly believe that we are all in this together, and to me, that means landlords and tenants must work together to eradicate bed bug infestations in multi-unit dwellings.

My intent is to inspire landlords and property managers in the City of Chicago to take action now. I hope that you will come to terms with the magnitude of the responsibility that is about to fall on your shoulders, and that you will arm yourselves with knowledge, that you will share it with others, and that you will prepare yourselves– and your tenants–  to deal with bed bug infestations in your buildings.  It’s a smart business decision for you, because these things cost a ton of money in the long run if they’re not handled properly at the outset.

That said, here’s the news:

Politickernj.com reported a press release today from the New Jersey State Assembly that announced the release of the Quigley/Spencer/Smith Bill Requiring Proper BedBug Extermination to the Assembly Speaker, who will decide whether or not to send it to the floor for a vote.  We hope the Speaker will decide to send it.

The gist of the press release:

“It is disgusting to think that there are places in New Jersey where renters are being forced to cohabitate with vermin, simply because they cannot afford a proper extermination,” said Quigley (DHudson).  “Tenants should not have to pay extra simply to live in a clean and safe environment.”

We couldn’t agree more.

And:

“Bedbugs are hardy pests and can quickly infest an entire apartment building,” said Spencer (DEssex).  “Because piecemeal extermination is virtually impossible, it only makes sense that the responsibility for removing an infestation be given to landlords.”

This just makes sense.  Period.

The gist of the bill:

The legislation (A-3203) would make building owners entirely responsible for maintaining dwellings that are free of bedbug infestations. Under the bill, if and when a bedbug outbreak occurs, landlords would be required to exterminate the pests at their own expense.

Landlords who do not take action when an infestation is reported would face fines of $300 per infested apartment and $1,000 per infested common area. Moreover, local boards of health would be
empowered to conduct exterminations and bill unresponsive landlords.

The measure also would require annual inspections of all multi-unit dwellings in the state for bedbug infestations and would require the state Department of Health and Senior Services to create and distribute an informational pamphlet to educate the public about bedbugs.

So, what’s good about this bill for everyone?  Well, first, it clears up the messy debate about financial responsibility, which probably tends to get in the way of proper treatment of bed bug infestations in the first place.  I imagine there’s lots of bickering and finger-pointing going on between landlords and tenants everywhere, if not worse.  And that’s likely to impede immediate, thorough, professional treatment, which, of course, only makes things much, much worse for landlords and tenants in the end.

What else is good?  Accountability.  It’s one thing to tell landlords they’re responsible for getting rid of bed bugs in their buildings.  It’s another thing to tell them they’re responsible and then tell them they’ll lose money if they don’t comply.  And it’s another thing altogether to tell them the health department will conduct inspections and fines will be issued in cases of noncompliance.  Accountability, my friends.  It’s as basic as first grade, and it’s as effective as sitting alone at your desk while your friends play kickball on the playground during recess without you.

Finally, education is good.  It’s what Chicago vs. Bed Bugs is aiming for in the first phase of our mission to advocate good bed bug policy in the City of Chicago.  So, a bill that requires the distribution of an informational pamphlet to educate the public about bed bugs is right up our alley.

It’s one of the things we hope our city will do for its residents.  Soon.



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2 Responses to “New Bed Bug Bill in NJ Assembly”

  1. You did a great job of explaining why this is sensible. Someone has to be in charge of getting rid of bed bugs in a multi-unit building and since bed bug eradication is by necessity a cooperative effort, landlords are uniquely positioned and command the authority to organize what needs to be done to eradicate bed bugs in all apartments in a building. The education component is essential, too, because landlords need help too. We all do. Someone I know and respect immensely is fond of saying that we’re all in this together. It’s the truest and most empowering thing that has ever been said about bed bugs. However, I do hope that recess thing is not personal recollection… 🙂

  2. Jessica said

    Hey Renee!

    First, thank you. I hope my explanation is sensible to others, too. It’s all true, and it’s only a matter of time before we’re all going to have to accept it, whether we like it or not.

    And I agree that embracing the idea that “we are all in this together” is the most empowering thing we can do when we’re dealing with bed bug infestations. If we all ally ourselves with each other– city officials and departments, pest management professionals, landlords, tenants, businesses, and experts– we will undoubtedly achieve our goals quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively in comparison with what we will face if we do not.

    I appreciate your kindness, Renee, and I admit that yes, the recess thing is a personal recollection. But it worked, and that’s what matters! 🙂

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