The strange case of bed bugs in Bushwick

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Originally uploaded by TheGirlsNY

Bushwick, Brooklyn is home to two large dueling loft buildings: 248 and 255 McKibbin Street. Yes, that’s right: they’re buildings so hip, fun, and now, they have their own myspace pages. (Don’t laugh, but we have one too.)

Gawker did an article today about the buildings’ problems with bed bugs, though judging from the comments there and on myspace, only the residents of 248 are claiming to have a problem with bed bugs.

The Bed Bug Registry has complaints from thirteen different tenants about the building. (For its neighbor 255 McKibbin, there are none.)

248 McKibbin also has a whole blog running on myspace about the building’s alleged bed bug epidemic. It makes for interesting reading. The residents are correct that the entire building must be treated, if the infestation is as extensive as they claim it is. There’s a reluctancy on the part of some residents to call HPD (311) and file a housing complaint, for fear they won’t get references from their landlord in future.

Such concerns abound on our forums too. I have not heard from anyone who has filed an HPD report on a landlord and who has not been able to rent after that. I do know multiple people who have “pissed landlords off” by expecting to have pest problems, leaks, etc. fixed, and whose landlords were so happy to see such “troublemakers” move on that they gave the next landlord glowing reviews!

So I think the idea is kind of an urban myth. If it happens, though, surely the tenants could clip articles about how infested their building was, and show it to future real estate brokers as evidence that they had good reason to file an HPD report. Frankly, shouldn’t the real estate brokers recognize that if HPD agrees with the tenant that their building is infested (and files said report), then the tenant should not be blacklisted in this way?

Or are we all going to end up living with bed bugs because we’re afraid our landlords will not give us a good reference when we want to move to another building with different amenities and more bed bugs? Because if everyone is afraid to demand their landlords treat the problem, we’ll all have bed bugs soon.