The whole world is buggin’
As we approach the close of this year many of your CDARPO colleagues have been inundated with bugs. To my knowledge no one has literally been infested, however all members may find themselves adversely effected. Unfortunately there are increasing reports that the population of bedbugs is on the rise. Many cities, larger than the ones that we find here in the Capital Region have been invaded to epidemic proportions. These persistent pests are transported into our properties buy our beloved tenants. In most cases this happens without the tenants knowledge. Buying used furniture, used clothing, and even not properly examining, washing, and drying new items can easily create a ground zero for total structural infestation.
Over that last several months I have spoken with more pest control professionals. than I can count. Many have varying and unique methods to deal with the bugs with great disagreement as to which method is most effective in beating back the advance of that darn bedbug. Every exterminator that I spoke with assured me that their method is the absolute best. An area in which there is no disagreement is the cost. Mucho dinero, piles of paper and lots of loot is needed to abate a full blown infestation.
Only days ago the Albany Common Council passed their Bed Bug legislation. Honorable James Sano, a recent guest at our membership meeting, proposed excellent balanced legislation that would ensure a response to complaints of infestation by the Department of Buildings and Regulatory Compliance, prompt remediation on the part of the landlord and an avenue to recover the expense of remediation should the epicenter or infecting tenant be identified.
Unfortunately, and I am still not sure how this happened since the public comment period was closed on this issue, United Tenants of Albany was able to have all language regarding the recovery of damages stripped from the legislation. This was wrong on many levels not the least of which is the adverse impact on the tenant population that they are trying to protect.
Consider the following: You own a 3 family building where each unit is rented for a modest $700 per month. Tenant in middle unit, #2 innocently brings home bed bugs and after trying to abate the situation themselves the infestation grows. A complaint is made, and there is a determination by code enforcement that there is in fact the presence of pests. In order to comply with this new law, and because you are a conscientious landlord that does not wish this dreaded problem to spread, you immediately hire a pest control professional. Luckily the problem was contained to that one unit. Your exterminator promptly invoices you for treatment which lasted several weeks to the sum of $1000.00. Ouch!
Because the new legislation is silent on your ability to work out an agreement with the offending tenant and hold him or her accountable you are forced to spread out the cost of this remediation throughout ALL of your tenants. You are not trying to get rich and buy a new car with this money. To the contrary, you are simply trying to recoup losses that were incurred at no fault of your own. Upon lease renewal time unit numbers 1&3 will also see a rent increase of modestly $25-$50 per month. What if these innocent tenants are subsidized or already stretched to their financial maximum. What if these other blameless tenants are working with Social Services or some other agency that determines that the new rent is beyond their affordability level and demands that they relocate. What if they try to hold on and end up damaging their credit by ultimately getting evicted. Is it fair and reasonable that ALL must pay for the unintentional, yet costly mistake of one tenant? United Tenants of Albany and the majority of the Common Council apparently think that it is.
CDARPO is currently working on a plan to share with our membership that will include, but not be limited to, modified lease language, increased tenant screening and reduced cost pre occupancy pest inspections. More information will be available at our next informative membership meeting and on the member’s only resources section of our web site www.CDARPO.org in the very near future. Until then stay alert, remain calm, be careful who you rent to and don’t bug out.
Terrance (The Down Stater)