Real Estate Board of New York Testimony on Intro No. 648

MEMORANDUM OF OPPOSITION

BILL: 648

SUBJECT: A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to reporting and providing information concerning bedbugs

SPONSORS: Daniel Dromm, Mathieu Eugene, Vanessa Gibson, Peter Koo, Deborah Rose, Helen Rosenthal, Rosie Mendez

DATE: December 13, 2016

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), representing over 17,000 owners, developers, managers and brokers of real property in New York City, opposes Intro. No. 648 because as set forth below, the proposed legislation’s reporting requirements might not necessarily reflect accurate information.  Reports with inaccurate information are hardly valuable. 

Intro. No, 648 seeks to expand current requirements for a building owner to furnish each tenant upon lease-signing the building’s history of bedbug infestation for the prior year.  The proposed legislation requires the building owner to file with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development an annual report detailing the number of apartments that had a bedbug infestation, and the number of apartments in which bedbug eradication measures were employed, among other requested information. 

Even though the legislation requires that the tenant or unit owner furnish the building owner with the bedbug infestation history for the prior year, the tenant or unit owner is under no obligation to be truthful.  Bedbug infestation often carries a societal stigma of being unclean and unsanitary.[1]  It is not uncommon for a tenant or unit owner to quietly address the bedbug infestation in fear of drawing attention or public scrutiny to the situation.  The information collected as a result of Intro. No. 648 would be simply too unreliable because tenants and unit owners might not be willing to tell the truth about their infestations.   

The proposed legislation also requires building owners to provide information about the prevention, detection and removal of bedbug infestations.  Our membership is supportive of this component of the bill because tenant education is always a worthy goal.  However, as the bill is currently written, REBNY voices its opposition to Intro. No. 648.

 

[1] Hager, Emily B.  (2010, August 20).  What Spreads Faster Than Bedbugs? Stigma.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/21/nyregion/21bedbugs.html?pagewanted=all