From the Queens Tribune:
A man wearing a white Tyvek suit entered an apartment on Steinway Street looking like a space explorer. Safely cloaked in high-density polyethylene plastic, he sat a bag on the floor and began extracting aerosol cans with cryptic names like CB-80, Phantom, and Bedlam.
Keeping her distance, a concerned woman watched from the bedroom doorway as he heaved her mattresses and furniture back and forth, making sure each crevice was soaked with hissing spray. Her 4-year-old son clung to her leg, mesmerized by the scene – the result of a single bedbug that his mother discovered clinging to his shirt.
According to Jody L. Gangloff-Kaufmann, Ph.D., an urban entomologist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, landlords have been known to spend up to $80,000 to get large buildings bedbug free.
Adding to landlords’ bedbug woes is the “Bedbug Disclosure Act,” a new citywide law that took effect Aug. 30. The measure requires landlords to notify prospective tenants about any infestations in the building within the previous year. The legislation’s stated goal is to suppress the bedbug epidemic by giving “landlords an incentive to comply with their legal obligations to eradicate” infestations. Oddly, the disclosure act fails to include any legal or financial penalties for landlords who do not comply.
“It might scare people away,” said Jonathan Cedeno, the superintendent of a 54-unit apartment complex in Astoria that was treated for two bedbug outbreaks earlier this year. “But if they ask me, I can’t lie to them. I have to let them know.”
The high cost of extermination has caused some landlords to resort to cheaper, less reliable pest control methods, while others are avoiding the problem altogether.
“It’s hard to get landlords to take care of things here,” said Marnie Schulenburg, a 26-year-old actress whose Astoria apartment building was recently infested with bedbugs. She said residents had to call the landlord repeatedly before an assistant finally showed up and contacted an exterminator.
Marvin Orellana, 25, came face-to-face with one after boarding the subway train on Astoria Boulevard last Thursday.
“Out of the corner of my eye, I see something moving on this girl’s book bag. Immediately, I look at it and I realize it’s a bedbug. I felt horrible because it was crowded and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want anyone to panic,” recounted Orellana, who had his own bedbug infestation a few years ago.
“It’s just so easy for that bug to walk onto some other person.”