Complete Annual Bedbug Reporting Requirement with HPD by Dec. 31
Each year, apartment building owners are required to file bedbug infestation and treatment reports with HPD. Owners must file annually between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31 for the previous year—which currently means from November 2021 through October 2022.
All multiple dwelling property owners must attempt to obtain the bedbug infestation history from the tenant or unit owner, including whether eradication measures were employed for a bedbug infestation. The law also requires owners to file the bedbug history for each of their properties electronically with HPD. And in addition to filing this electronic form with HPD, owners and managers will be required to post the form at a prominent place in the building or provide the form with each new or renewal lease. An HPD-approved form on preventing, detecting, and removing bedbugs must also be included with either the posting or lease distribution.
General Bedbug Requirements
Owners must maintain their property free from pests, including roaches, mice, and bedbugs. In general, this means that the landlord must provide extermination services and keep a building free from excessive garbage by providing appropriate garbage cans and storing garbage in a pest-resistant manner.
HPD and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) advocate for Integrated Pest Management as the safest and most effective way to manage pests. It includes learning about pests and frequently checking for and eliminating conditions that can cause or sustain them. It involves the use of non-chemical methods first and then, if necessary, the use of pesticides. Left untreated, bedbugs can spread quickly in an apartment building. Both the housing and health codes require that owners address infestations promptly. The surest strategies to keep bedbugs from spreading are prevention, early detection, and rapid treatment.
Complaints and Violations
If tenants file a bedbug complaint, HPD offers a canine unit for the inspection of bedbugs. The beagles are available to assist a team of Code Enforcement Inspectors who have been trained to work with them. The Canine Unit will respond to bedbug complaints where the 311 operator has confirmed that the tenant would like to have the inspection performed by a dog, although not every such complaint can be inspected by the Canine Unit. The dogs were trained at an accredited facility to alert inspectors by sitting when they detect live bedbugs or viable eggs. The findings are confirmed by visual inspection before a violation is issued.
If the HPD inspector finds bedbugs, the owner is issued an HPD Notice of Violation (NOV) ordering that the condition be addressed. When a NOV is issued by HPD, the owner also receives a DOHMH Order of the Commissioner. The Commissioner’s Order gives owners more details on the requirements for addressing bedbugs, including:
Inspect the apartment(s) cited for bedbugs. If you find a bedbug infestation in the apartment(s), inspect all units adjacent to, above, and below the infested units, as well as all common areas, and retain the services of a pest management professional certified and registered by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to take all measures necessary to remove bedbug infestation where found.
Keep a record of all actions taken in compliance with the Order. Certification of HPD’s NOV is the only required notification back to the city that the condition has been corrected as instructed. There’s no response directly to the DOHMH. The HPD NOV Certification of Correction requires a sworn statement that the above corrective actions have been taken, in compliance with the DOHMH Commissioner’s Order.
Annual HPD Bedbug Filing Requirements
The online application allows only validly registered property owners and managing agents of multiple dwellings to disclose bedbug infestation history. Electronic filing is still required even when there’s no reported bedbug activity in a dwelling unit. The online portal for the annual bedbug filing can be found at https://hpdcrmportal.dynamics365portals.us/. Furthermore, pursuant to the law, HPD will make the submitted information publicly available online.
A building’s property registration must be current. And the online bedbug filing application will allow only validly registered property owners and managing agents of multiple dwellings to disclose bedbug infestation history.
Owners are required to file an aggregate report of the bedbug infestation history that includes infestation history for all units, not an infestation history for an individual dwelling unit. Owners are required to report the following information:
- Total dwelling unit count. The total number of units in the multiple dwelling (whether or not the unit is occupied).
- Infested dwelling unit count. The number of units, as reported by a tenant or otherwise known to the property owner, to have had a bedbug infestation for the reporting period and annually for each subsequent report.
- Eradicated dwelling unit count. The number of units where eradication measures were employed for the reporting period.
- Re-infested dwelling unit count. The number of units that reported having a bedbug infestation after eradication methods were employed for the reporting period and annually for each subsequent report.
When submitting, owners certify that either:
- A copy of the most recent electronic form will be distributed to each tenant of the building upon each lease renewal or the commencement of a new lease issued; or
- A copy of the form will be posted in a prominent location within the building within 60 days of the filing and that the owner will maintain a record that a copy of the form was prominently posted within 60 days of the filing of the information with HPD.
Once this filing with HPD is completed, in addition to taking the action that the owner certifies to (either providing the filing to each tenant, upon commencement of a new lease and with each renewal lease, or posting in a prominent location within the building), the owner must either distribute DOHMH’s Preventing and Getting Rid of Bedbugs Safely guide (https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/vector/bed-bug-guide.pdf) or post DOHMH’s Bedbug Information Notice. This notice provides information about the prevention, detection, and removal of bedbug infestation. The form must be posted within 60 days of the filing of the Bedbug Annual Report.
It’s important to note that in addition to the city-level bedbug filing requirements, state law requires owners to disclose bedbug infestation history dating back one year to new tenants through the bedbug disclosure form. This form can be found at http://www.nyshcr.org/forms/rent/dbbn.pdf.
How to Choose the Right Pest Control Company
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has provided some advice on how to identify a pest control company that’s well trained in managing bedbugs. You should use companies that are registered with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and have licensed applicators. You can check for information on the company you want to hire by calling (718) 482-4994 or visiting http://www.dec.ny.gov. You should expect at least two treatment visits and a third follow-up visit to confirm that bedbugs have been eliminated. Severe infestations or cluttered apartments may take more visits to eliminate the bedbugs.
When asking companies how they’ll approach a bedbug problem, here’s what the DOHMH says good companies will do:
- Provide references;
- Insist on inspecting before quoting a final price;
- Provide a written inspection report, along with an action plan;
- Price a job according to inspection findings, not based on a flat fee;
- Make referrals for any repair that needs to be done;
- Recommend and make repeat visits until the problem is solved;
- Point out where bedbugs may hide and treat those areas;
- Use vacuum, cleaning, steaming, and other mechanical approaches to remove and kill bedbugs;
- Ask whether pets or children are present, and manage the use of pesticides accordingly;
- Provide regular training to their employees and educational materials to clients;
- Work with you until the problem has been controlled; and
- Encourage notifying adjacent apartments and inspect adjacent apartments for bedbugs.
Open HPD Bedbug Violation Results in Rent Reduction Order
In one bedbug-related decision, the DHCR granted a rent reduction for decreased services to a rent-stabilized tenant. The tenant alleged that there had been bedbugs in her apartment for over two years and that the management had not taken the issue seriously because it failed to investigate the apartments below hers for infestation.
The owner argued that it had an exterminator service the tenant's apartment many times, that the tenant had commenced an HP proceeding in housing court, that two other tenants were joined into that proceeding, and that it expected the issue to be resolved in the court case. The district rent administrator ruled for the tenant and reduced her rent, based on proof that included an HPD violation for bedbugs. The owner appealed and lost.
The DRA reasonably determined that the tenant's claim was supported by HPD records, including an open violation for the tenant's apartment at the time of the DRA ruling. Although the owner offered to show that an exterminator treated the apartment for bedbugs, the owner submitted no proof that the bedbug problem had been resolved. For example, the owner didn’t submit a Certificate of Correction filed with HPD [S&W Realty LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. GX210007RO, August 2020].