The Jersey Journal reports that the Starlite Motel on Tonnelle Avenue near Fifth Street in Jersey City was closed by Jersey City inspectors yesterday “due to bedbug infestation and fire code violations.”
“In this case, the motel in question had numerous fire violations and was infested with bedbugs, which placed their guests at a great risk,” [Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy] said.
Inspectors found bedbugs in five hotel rooms, including one in which a family of two adults and three children were living as long-term residents, Chief Health Inspector H. James Boor said.
Smoke detectors in 75 percent or the motel’s rooms did not work, said Mark Redfield, chair of the task force.
About 35 additional violations were found, Redfield added, noting the motel was operating without a license since the Fire Department hadn’t completed its inspection process.
It is not clear to me that the city would be shutting down a motel which only had bed bug issues, but it will be interesting to see if that comes up in the future.
I note that, given the new city ordinance which makes Jersey City landlords responsible only for treating their tenants’ units for bed bugs twice (as opposed to being responsible for eradicating bed bugs), long-term hotel residents such as those mentioned here may have more rights to bed bug-free accommodation than those with rental leases.
That doesn’t seem quite fair.
If Mayor Healy doesn’t want Jersey City residents to live with bed bugs, he and his city council should perhaps reconsider the recent ordinance in light of the fact that experts tell us most bed bug cases take three or more traditional treatments, not one or two, before bed bugs are gone.
Aggressive, coordinated treatment of all infested units (and those adjacent to the infested units) make it more likely that bed bugs will be gone more quickly. When it’s left up to landlords to decide, this is often not the type of response they choose to provide.
Unfortunately, the residents of this hotel were forced to evacuate. I hope they have somewhere safe and bed bug-free to go to, and that the city helped them ensure they were not taking bed bugs with them.