I just revised the Tenants and Landlords FAQ. I hope everyone who uses this site or the forums will re-read the NYC information (long as it is) because it corrects some misconceptions a lot of us have about the laws regarding who pays for bed bug treatment in rental units here.
While the FAQ has always been clear that there are cases in which tenants may be responsible for paying for treatment for bed bugs in NYC, we’ve all kind of gotten forgotten that, and gotten into the habit of saying “the landlord pays for treatment” (myself included). I want to stress that no one has yet reported that they are renting and were forced to pay, but I do think we need to be more careful about sending people to the FAQ for guidance on where to look for advice, rather than saying “landlords are responsible,” which isn’t strictly always the case. I do hope that no one was confused or inconvenienced by this. I hope everyone will have a look at the FAQ as it is now.
I have now prefaced the entire Tenants and Landlords FAQ with this disclaimer:
If you are a tenant, find out the laws in your area about the responsibility of landlords vs. renters to eliminate bed bugs. A local tenants’ rights organization probably exists in your city, and they’re probably the best free source of information regarding landlords’ responsibility to pay for bed bug treatment. Remember that you also have responsibilities, like reporting the presence of bed bugs promptly (doing so in writing protects you legally), and complying with treatment. Responsibility is not always a clear-cut matter, so please use this FAQ as a starting point, and realize that you may need to figure out how the local laws define your dwelling, your status, and who is required to pay.
I think it’s important for us all to be a bit more circumspect when telling others about local laws regarding bed bugs. I myself have said many times “the landlord is responsible for paying in New York City.” Well, yes, in most cases. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was all cases, as this Real Estate article from the New York Times (last October) implies. I want to stress that the FAQ has always stated clearly that there are exceptions (such as buildings with 3 or fewer units) where tenants may be responsible. To be honest, we’re not sure about where those exceptions occur, but it seems to hinge on whether you’re defined in some cases as an “occupant in charge of the dwelling” (which tenants in larger buildings apparently are not).
It appears to be true, according to the information below, that landlords must arrange and pay for elimination of bed bugs if you are a renting tenant, AND:
1. Your apartment building has 3 or more rental units, OR
2. You live in NYC-owned housing.
Anyone else may be responsible for treatment, and everyone should therefore consult their lease (if any), and seek advice from Met Council on Housing, or a lawyer.
If anyone has further additions or corrections, please leave a comment, with links to relevant information.