A pricey Upper West Side apartment building at 39 W. 67th Street has a bed bug-infested penthouse, and the coop board is now suing the owner and her long-time tenant, for access to treat the room and “remove infested belongings,” according to the The New York Post:
The board of 39 W. 67th Street is hauling the penthouse’s owner and her rent-controlled tenant to court to prevent an alleged infestation of ‘5,000 to 10,000’ bedbugs from spreading throughout the 40-unit building, the Manhattan Supreme Court filing states.
The documents cite a Jan. 16 exterminator report that found ‘live bedbugs crawling on the walls in the middle of the day, which indicates that this is a ‘mega’ infestation.’
Judith Newman, an architect who owns the 15th-floor penthouse, and her tenant, 91-year-old Therese Hohmann, are charged with harboring the nasty pests.
But Newman told The Post she’s allowed two fumigations in Hohmann’s room and a third is scheduled for Feb. 14.
‘It hasn’t spread beyond her room. They did a barrier treatment, so it’s been contained,’ Newman said. She added that her elderly tenant has lived in the building since 1965.
“Mega infestation” — if that’s really what the report stated — isn’t (as far as I know) a technical term, though yes, seeing bed bugs during the day is not a good sign.
Clearly, the two treatments already done on the tenant’s room have not done the trick. It sounds like the lawsuit is not aimed at further treatments in and of themselves (since Newman has already scheduled one for next week), but for the board to take control of the process.
I suspect there’s more to this story than we’ve heard so far. It does not go without notice that this is a “rent-controlled tenant” (as the Post notes) — anyone in NYC would tell you that rent-controlled tenants in a Lincoln Square penthouse have a target on their backs. But that doesn’t seem to explain this situation, since surely the owner would be the one we would expect to try and drive the tenant out, not the board.
I have some questions for our bed bug experts out there about the description of the problem and treatment above:
- If there really are “5,000 to 10,000″ bed bugs in this bedroom can the spread of such a problem really have been prevented by a “barrier treatment” as claimed by the tenant?
- What is a barrier treatment, anyway, where bed bugs are concerned?
- Can the pest control firm really be so sure that the bed bug infestation has not gone beyond this one bedroom?
I’d welcome entomologists and pest management professionals to comment on those or other aspects of this story. Other comments and feedback are also welcomed below!
The case goes to court today.
You may also be interested in:
- Coverage of the same story on Curbed.
- Streeteasy’s page for the building.
- More Bedbugger.com stories about bed bugs in condos and coops.
- More Bedbugger.com stories about bed bug lawsuits.