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Should I buy in a Brooklyn co-op with a history of bed bugs?

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  1. BK_NoBB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Aug 28 2015 17:24:15
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    Hi all,

    I recently put an offer on an apartment in an 80 unit co-op in Brooklyn. I'm now having serious reservations after discovering two separate reports on Bed Bug Registry. One was from 2009 (so six years ago) and another was from 2011 (so four years ago).

    Both reports speculate they're either coming from the plumbing or from the wiring. Both reports also imply other units have been affected. One mentions management flyers around the building asking tenants to report infestations and the other report mentions tenants talk of infestations in neighboring units.

    When my broker asked about bed bugs, management said, "We aren't allowed to disclose which units were infested, but there weren't any infestations on that floor. There were cases in the past that have been extinguished and there are no active cases, that we know of."

    I do realize these reports were quite awhile ago. I also realize there could be more recent cases that haven't been recorded, which is a fact that worries me. In addition, the possibility of the buggies being deeply entrenched in the building is a terrifying prospect.

    Given the number of years that have passed, am I being overly paranoid or should I walk away?

  2. Distressed in NJ

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Aug 28 2015 18:41:05
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    Don't buy.

  3. FormerlyBuggy

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Aug 28 2015 19:22:15
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    Hi!

    I can't tell you whether or not to buy, that's a conclusion you can only come to yourself. But maybe I can help you ask some good questions

    The reports are old and any place can become infested with bed bugs. so I don't really think that's a factor. If there were many reports and/or they were recent, I would worry.

    That said, I think the key questions are:

      1. What is the co-op board's policy related to bed bugs - who is responsible for treatment, are surrounding units (next to, above, and below) treated, if they pay do you have a say in the choice of PCO and treatment type, etc.

      2. How proactive active are they when it comes to educating tenants and encouraging disclosure of bed bug infestations?

    BK_NoBB - 1 hour ago  » 
    ...One mentions management flyers around the building asking tenants to report infestations...

    IMO, this is a good sign, but again that was quite a while ago and co-op boards change. So if it were me, I would get clarification on the questions above - preferably in writing if possible.

    Also, It's been about 16 years since I lived in the city (Manhattan/Queens) and I know there have been a lot of laws and regulations enacted. Not sure how they would apply in a co-op vs. rental situation. Lots of folks here are NYC-based, so hopefully you'll get some input from a local perspective.

    BK_NoBB - 1 hour ago  » 
    When my broker asked about bed bugs, management said, "We aren't allowed to disclose which units were infested, but there weren't any infestations on that floor. There were cases in the past that have been extinguished and there are no active cases, that we know of."

    They may not be able to disclose which units were affected, but I would assume the seller must disclose if the unit for sale was affected. I would specifically ask that question. It should be in the seller's disclosures.

    I hope that helps.
    Melanie

    I am NOT an expert - just a grateful bed bug survivor willing to share my experience, strength, and hope with others.
  4. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Aug 28 2015 20:34:01
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    I'm sure most larger buildings in NYC have had at least one bed bug problem over the years, so certainly wouldn't turn down the building on that alone.

    That said, I might investigate a little more. Have you spoken to the super? Sometimes they can be very forthcoming. Also, can your broker get copies of recent "minutes" from the COOP board, which are often made available to prospective buyers. If there's any sort of major problem going on, it should be in the minutes. Also, ask your attorney about a bed bug disclosure statement to be included in your sales contract. If the seller refuses to sign it, that might tell you something.

    Richard

  5. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Aug 28 2015 20:35:58
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    I'm sure most larger buildings in NYC have had at least one bed bug problem over the years, so certainly wouldn't turn down the building on that alone.

    That said, I might investigate a little more. Have you spoken to the super? Sometimes they can be very forthcoming. Also, can your broker get copies of recent "minutes" from the COOP board, which are often made available to prospective buyers. If there's any sort of major problem going on, it should be in the minutes. Also, ask your attorney about a bed bug disclosure statement to be included in your sales contract. If the seller refuses to sign it, that might tell you something.

    Richard

    PS I just saw Melanie, above, has commented on the "disclosures" as well. I'd run it by your attorney first and see how they want to handle it.

  6. riley123

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Aug 28 2015 22:16:04
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    Agree with the other posters....the coop board minutes should be available for your attorney or you to read. Read the last two years....and yes, get a bed bug disclosure statement signed by the seller.

  7. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Aug 29 2015 5:43:59
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    BK:

    We aren't allowed to disclose which units were infested, but there weren't any infestations on that floor.

    Get hold of the NYC bed bug disclosure law and forms. I think I remember from past posts here thagt management is required to give you a more detailed history of bed bug infestations including what floor(s) they were on.

    Richard

  8. BK_NoBB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Aug 29 2015 13:51:49
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    Thank you all for the helpful suggestions! I feel less hysterical than I did yesterday in large part to your rational advice.

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Aug 29 2015 19:48:27
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    Richard56 - 13 hours ago  » 
    BK:

    We aren't allowed to disclose which units were infested, but there weren't any infestations on that floor.

    Get hold of the NYC bed bug disclosure law and forms. I think I remember from past posts here thagt management is required to give you a more detailed history of bed bug infestations including what floor(s) they were on.
    Richard

    Actually, the NYC disclosure law/form (there's a link to the form here) applies to landlords and rental situations.

    However, the other suggestions above about asking if this unit has ever been affected are good, since there are rules which apply to sales about disclosing known issues if asked directly.

    I definitely think you should try and ask what their protocol is when someone suspects bed bugs or finds them. What do they do next? (Any details they can tell you will help.)

    What you want to hear is that once bed bugs are confirmed in one unit, all attached units or common areas are professionally inspected. If a dog is mentioned, find out if you can if it's a team that visually verifies alerts.

    Although any good coop in NYC may have had bed bugs, you want to know they address it in some kind of coordinated way.

    And keep in mind most people don't list their bed bug problems on the registry-- especially if they're owners. So while I would not assume there's currently a problem, I also would not assume it's not more units which were affected.

    The good news is, bed bugs are a rite of passage with a learning curve for coop boards. They may have learned a lot by already having had and addressed some issues.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  10. BK_NoBB

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Aug 29 2015 22:19:14
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    Thank you again for your responses! I’ve collected all your questions and sent them to my broker to do some more recon. In the meantime, I have a few follow-up questions for you guys…

    Does the recurrence of reported infestations (’09 and ’11) send a red flag anyone’s way? The fact that an infestation occurred again two years after supposed eradication gives me pause.

    Before submitting my offer, I actually did point blank ask if the unit was infested and the listing broker stated there weren’t bed bugs on the unit’s floor. Call me crazy, but I don’t have full faith in the answer—maybe because the communication came curtly in an informal email (though, is that how these kinds of conversations are usually conducted?). So, am I crazy, is that actually full disclosure that the unit was never infested or is this something that should be discussed during due diligence?

    As a side note, if I get this far, I’ll have my attorney comb through the seller’s disclosures and board minutes in regards to these concerns. I’ll also talk to my attorney about including a bed bug disclosure in my sales contract. But I’d like to try and gather as much information as possible before even getting to that point. Finding out something later during due diligence that wasn’t brought up early on and in good faith is going to have me walking away. At that point, I will already have spent money on a home inspector, bed bug inspection, and my attorney’s accrued time.

  11. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Aug 30 2015 16:13:52
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    BK: So, am I crazy, is that actually full disclosure that the unit was never infested or is this something that should be discussed during due diligence?
    ---------------
    Just about nothing is binding in a real estate transaction unless it's in writing. You've been given some good advice about requesting minutes and including a bed bug disclosure statement with your contract. Any attorney who specializes in COOP transactions should know all this, and that's the type of attorney you really want.

    Richard

  12. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Aug 30 2015 16:38:18
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    Does the recurrence of reported infestations (’09 and ’11) send a red flag anyone’s way? The fact that an infestation occurred again two years after supposed eradication gives me pause.

    I would not be surprised to find that any coop in NYC (of any decent size) had had bed bugs twice in 2 years (or more, of course-- we don't know of cases not reported to the Bed Bug Registry).

    You don't know if these were two units or the same one twice, but either could happen.

    This is why I would focus more on their current game plan when issues arise or are suspected, rather than how many or which units had bed bugs in the past.

  13. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Aug 30 2015 18:11:43
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    Just wanted to add that while on one hand you are entitled to get appropriate information, on the other hand you don't want to ruin the deal and be viewed as a problem buyer. It can sometimes be a delicate balance. A lot here has to do with whether it's a buyers or sellers market, what kind of price you're getting, and how much you really want the apartment. That's why, always good to lean on an experienced real estate attorney to lead the way and give perspective and professionalism to the process.

    Richard

  14. riley123

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Sep 3 2015 20:41:05
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    Dear BK - I would be surprised if a majority of coops in NYC did "not" have had at least "one" unit having a bb incident. That being said...the most important thing is how the board approaches the situation. If you really love this apartment...you will do your due diligence and get the answers that will make you feel secure. You really just want to make sure that the management and the board makes good decisions with regards to bb's. "If", even after you sign the contract of sale and you are nervous...have a specialist come in and inspect the unit. But I agree with Richard. I have bought and sold many NYC apartments. You may find yourself losing apartments you "really" want if you are perceived as a "problem" buyer. So, just get educated.

    Best of luck.


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