TRENTON – The Assembly Housing Committee on Thursday held a bill that would require landlords to take prompt action on bedbug issues that their tenants bring to their attention.
The bill, A603, states the landlord must take action in addressing the bedbug infestation at a tenant’s home within 10 days.
It provides that a landlord who does not take prompt action upon written notice that bedbugs have infested a property is financially liable for the consequences.
The bill was opposed by several groups. Both the New Jersey Association of Counties and the New Jersey City and County Health Officials said the bill would place a financial burden on them, since it would require them to clean the tenant’s house if the landlord fails to take action.
The legislation also requires the Health Department to prepare and publish a bedbug education document in pamphlet form, which landlords must provide to their tenants within 90 days.
Another stakeholder, N.J. Tenants Organization’s President Matt Shapiro, opposed this version of the bill, adding that a prior version a few years ago put the full responsibility on the owner. But A603, he said, basically implies that it is a tenant’s “risky behavior” that’s causing the infestation.
He also said he found it ridiculous that an apartment is considered bedbug-infestation-free if there’s no presence of them for 50 days following the extermination.
He added that tenants are likely to miss the Health Department pamphlet unless the landlord hand-delivers it to the tenants.
Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22) said the bill would be voted on at another time until the stakeholders’ various concerns are either accommodated or addressed.