[Third Reprint]

ASSEMBLY, No. 3203

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

213th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 15, 2008

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman JOAN M. QUIGLEY

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblywoman L. GRACE SPENCER

District 29 (Essex and Union)

Assemblyman L. HARVEY SMITH

District 31 (Hudson)

Assemblywoman CLEOPATRA G. TUCKER

District 28 (Essex)

Assemblywoman NILSA CRUZ-PEREZ

District 5 (Camden and Gloucester)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywomen Vainieri Huttle, Rodriguez, Assemblymen Vas, Ramos and Johnson

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes procedures to prevent and eradicate bedbug infestations in certain residential property.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Assembly Housing and Local Government Committee on January 15, 2009, with amendments.

  


An Act concerning bedbug infestations in residential dwellings and supplementing and amending Title 26 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section)  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a.     Populations of the common bedbug, Cimex lectularius, have increased by 500 percent in the past few years.

     b.    A bedbug infestation is a uniquely hard to exterminate threat to the health and habitability of a dwelling because tiny adult bedbugs are able to hide deep in mattresses and walls, and their food source is the occupants of a dwelling.

     c.     Bedbugs leave signs of their presence in bedding and in a dwelling that are visible to the naked eye, making education of a dwelling occupant a critical aspect of prevention.

     d.    Bedbugs feed on 1[human] the1 blood 1of humans and domestic animals1, and present a public 1[health] welfare1 risk.

     e.     Bedbugs travel through the ventilation systems in multi-unit establishments, causing 1the presence of bedbugs in1 exponential 1[infestations] numbers1.

     f.     The owner of a multiple dwelling 1, with the cooperation of tenants,1 is in the best position to coordinate the extermination 1of1 bedbug 1[infestations] populations1 in that multiple dwelling.

     g.     The common bedbug is a public nuisance and it is a matter of public welfare to protect New Jersey citizens' health from this pest.

     1h.   Tenants of multiple dwellings should be educated and vigilant about preventing the presence of bedbugs in their homes.1

 

     2.    (New section) For purposes of this act:

     "Bedbug" means an insect of the species "Cimex lectularius," commonly referred to as a bedbug.

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services.

     1"Common interest community" means a horizontal property regime, condominium, cooperative, or mutual housing corporation in which some of the property, known as common elements or common areas, is owned as tenants-in-common or otherwise owned by all of the property owners.1

     "Department"  means the Department of Health and Senior Services.

     "Dwelling" or "multiple dwelling" means a multiple dwelling as defined in section 3 of the "Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law," P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-3) 1, except that this definition shall not include any common interest community1.

     "Eradicate" means the process 1[required] that shall be undertaken by a commercial pesticide applicator, licensed pursuant to the "Pesticide Control Act of 1971," P.L.1971, c.176 (C.13:1F-1 et seq.) and the rules and regulations promulgated by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to effectuate that act,1 to eliminate 1[an infestation] the presence1 of bedbugs by poisoning, spraying, fumigating, trapping, or by any other recognized and lawful pest-elimination methods, including repeated applications of any treatment 1, particularly to areas where bedbugs are likely to congregate12An eradication shall be deemed completed if there has been no evidence of bedbug activity for 50 days after the last application of any treatment.2

     1["Infestation"] 2["Presence"1 means the presence of bedbugs in numbers large enough to be noticeable, harmful, or threatening to the occupants of a dwelling unit.]2

     "Local board" or "local board of health" means the board of health of any municipality or the boards, bodies or officers in such municipality lawfully exercising any of the powers of a local board of health under the laws  governing such municipality.

     "Local health officer" means any duly appointed health officer employed by the local board of health as described in R.S.26:3-19.

     "Owner" means the owner as defined in section 3 of the "Hotel and Multiple Dwelling Law," P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-3) 1, except that this definition shall not include any ownership interest in any common interest community.

     "Risk factors" means tenant behaviors that increase the possibility of the presence of bedbugs in a unit and include, but are not limited to, living with a domestic pet, furnishing with older furniture that has not been properly sanitized, and travel to tropical climates without proper precautions.

     "Seasonal use" means use or rental of a unit for a term of not more than 125 consecutive days for residential purposes by a person having a permanent place of residence elsewhere.  "Seasonal use" does not mean use or rental of living quarters for seasonal, temporary or migrant farm workers in connection with any work or place where work is being performed.  The owner shall have the burden of proving that the use or rental of the residential property is seasonal1.

 

     3.    (New section)  a.  The department, in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs, shall, as soon as practicable and annually thereafter, prepare a pamphlet that describes bedbugs and explains how 1[bedbug infestations spread] the presence of bedbugs spreads1.  This pamphlet may contain any information that the commissioner deems necessary and may be revised by the department whenever new information concerning bedbugs becomes available.  The pamphlet shall contain the following information:

     (1)   Measures that may be taken to prevent and control 1[bedbug infestations] the presence of bedbugs1 in a residential setting, including professional extermination, cleaning the dwelling space and mattresses, and laundering bedclothes, and clothing;

     (2)   Specific facts about the bedbug, including its appearance and breeding habits; 1[and]1

     (3)   The State's guidelines and regulations for disinfecting, labeling, and reselling mattresses1; 3[and]3

     (4)   Tenant behaviors that are risk factors for attracting and supporting the presence of bedbugs1 3; and

     (5)   A statement describing the legal rights and responsibilities imposed on tenants and owners of multiple dwellings by this act, including, but not limited to the owner's duty to keep the premises free of the presence of bedbugs, a tenant's duty to notify the owner of the presence of bedbugs, and the potential financial liability of a tenant for repeated eradications caused by either a failure to properly maintain the unit or for interfering with the owner's access to the unit for inspection or eradication purposes 3.

     b.    The department shall make the pamphlet available 1[at no cost]1 to the public 1[, in a form suitable for distributing pursuant to the provisions of this act.  The department shall make the pamphlet available]1 in both the English and Spanish languages.  The department shall post the pamphlet on the department's Internet website, in an easily printable format.  The pamphlet shall serve as an informational document only, and nothing therein shall be construed as binding on or affecting a judicial determination related to this act.  The pamphlet shall not be deemed to be medical advice.

     c.     Within 3[30] 903 days after the department has made the pamphlet available to the public, every owner of a multiple dwelling shall provide each occupied dwelling unit in the multiple dwelling with a copy of the pamphlet 2[, and thereafter] 3personally delivered to the unit or sent by registered mail or certified mail, return receipt requested, to the tenant's last known address, which may be the address of the unit3. Each tenant shall sign and acknowledge receipt thereof.  3If an owner is unable to secure the tenant's signature or acknowledgement of receipt, the owner shall be deemed to have complied with the requirements of this subsection if the owner makes two attempts, in good faith, to deliver the pamphlet, at least one of which attempts shall be tendered by registered mail or certified mail, return receipt requested, and both of which shall be documented, including their date, in the owner's written records or electronic database.3 After the department has made the pamphlet available to the public,2 every owner of a multiple dwelling shall provide a copy of the current pamphlet to each new tenant at or  prior to the time the tenant assumes occupancy of the dwelling. 2Each new tenant shall sign and acknowledge receipt thereof to the owner A signed provision acknowledging receipt in a lease agreement dated on or after the date the pamphlet is made available to the public shall be deemed sufficient notice pursuant to this section. 2

     1[In addition, every owner of a multiple dwelling shall keep a copy of the current pamphlet conspicuously posted in one or more common areas and in a manager's office, so that the pamphlet is prominent and accessible to the occupants of each dwelling unit. If there is no common area in the dwelling, the pamphlet shall be posted in a conspicuous location in the premises, including, but not limited to the walls of the front vestibule or any foyer or hallway near the main entrance of the dwelling.]

     d.    3The pamphlet shall contain, in a conspicuous form, the following statement:

     "If you notice or suspect the presence of bedbugs in your unit, you are required by law to promptly notify the owner or manager of your unit.  You may be responsible for the costs of exterminating bedbugs if you do not notify your owner or manager."

     e.3   The pamphlet shall contain a separate written statement as follows:

     "Upon reasonable notice, you 3[may be required to] must3 grant the owner of your apartment access to the apartment for purposes of an inspection for 3or the eradication of3 the presence of bedbugs.  This inspection may include a visual inspection and manual inspection of your personal belongings, limited to bedding or 2[upholstered]2 furniture.  If bedbugs are found in the unit, additional access and measures may be required.  If you do not grant your landlord access for purposes of an inspection for 3or the eradication of 3 the presence of bedbugs or if you obstruct access for purposes of visual inspection, your landlord may not be responsible for any 2costs and2 damages relating to and arising from bedbugs in your unit.  2You may also be responsible for the costs of repeated eradication of bedbugs if you fail to properly maintain your dwelling.2"

     3[e.]f.3       The pamphlet shall contain a separate written statement notifying the tenant that,

     (1) upon termination of the lease and move out, the owner may inspect the unit for the presence of bedbugs, and

     (2) The presence of bedbugs in the unit may constitute damages to the unit beyond normal wear and tear and actual eradication costs may be itemized and deducted from the tenant's security deposit pursuant to section of 3 of P.L.1971, c.223 (C.46:8-21.1).1

 

     4.    (New section)  a.  Every owner of a multiple dwelling shall be responsible, at his own expense, for maintaining the multiple dwelling free of 1[an infestation] the presence1 of bedbugs 1except pursuant to section 7 of P.L.    , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)1.

     b.    1Any tenant who has knowledge of the presence of bedbugs 2, or who suspects the presence of bedbugs based on the presence of characteristic bite marks,2 shall notify the owner in writing of the presence of bedbugs in the dwelling unit.

     c.1   Upon 1written1 notice 1[, either oral or written,]1 from a tenant, or from the local board pursuant to R.S.26:3-49, of 1[an infestation] the presence1 of bedbugs in any dwelling unit, an owner shall 1[immediately]1, 1within 10 days following 3that3 written notice 3[to all affected tenants]3,1 at his own expense,

     (1)   2[eradicate the 1[infestation] presence1of] begin the process of eradicating2 bedbugs in the dwelling unit;

     (2)   ascertain 1[whether] the presence of bedbugs in1 other dwelling units or common areas 1[are infested with bedbugs]1; and

     (3)   1following written notice to the tenants of those units where bedbugs are present,1 eradicate any remaining 1[infestation] presence of bedbugs1 in other dwelling units or common areas

     1[c. When an infestation of bedbugs is found to exist in two or more dwelling units, or in a common area, the owner of the multiple dwelling shall provide notice that there is a risk of an infestation of multiple units to each occupant of the multiple dwelling by causing written notice to be delivered to each dwelling unit in the multiple dwelling.]

     The provisions of this subsection to the contrary notwithstanding, an owner shall, within seven days following written notice to all affected tenants, at his own expense, eradicate the presence of bedbugs in a dwelling unit leased, occupied, or rented for seasonal use.

     d.    (1) When the owner of a multiple dwelling requires access to a unit for purposes of ascertaining the presence of bedbugs or eradicating the presence of bedbugs, the owner shall provide at least 48 hours' notice to the tenants, in writing, that the owner requires access for purposes of ascertaining 3or eradicating3 the presence of bedbugs.

     (2)   3Upon reasonable notice pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection, a tenant shall grant an owner access to the affected unit for purposes of inspection or eradication.3  If the tenant, after receiving reasonable notice of an inspection or eradication pursuant to this subsection, interferes with, obstructs, or actively inhibits access to the unit for purposes of a visual inspection for, or eradication of, the presence of bedbugs, the owner shall not be liable to the tenant of the unit for any damages relating to and arising from the presence of bedbugs.1

 

     5.    (New section)  a.  1[The tenant] If the owner does not act, within 10 days, pursuant to section 4 of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the tenant1 may notify1, in writing,1 the local board 1[and the owner of a multiple dwelling] or local health officer1 of any failure of the multiple dwelling to be kept in a condition free of 1[an infestation] 2[the presence1 of]2 bedbugs.

     b.    If, following 1written1 notice 1[, either oral or written,]1 from a tenant, or from the local board pursuant to R.S.26:3-49, 1or from the Department of Community Affairs, pursuant to an inspection conducted pursuant to section 7 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-7)1 the owner of a multiple dwelling does not eradicate 1[an infestation] the 2[presence1 of]2 bedbugs pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the local health officer shall act as an agent for the owner of a multiple dwelling to 2[1immediately]2 inspect for the presence of bedbugs and, if required, to1 engage a 1[qualified insect exterminator or insect management professional] commercial pesticide applicator1 at a usual and customary price in the area to eradicate the 1[infestation] 2[presence1 of]2 bedbugs 2, within 10 days following written notice  to all affected tenants, as described in subsection c. of section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)2.

     c.     Any 1[exterminator or insect management professional] commercial pesticide applicator1 who provides services to eradicate 1[an infestation] the presence of bedbugs1 in accordance with subsection a. of this section may bill the owner of a multiple dwelling directly.  The 1municipality or a1 local board may adopt an ordinance, similar to an ordinance adopted pursuant to section 6 of P.L.1962, c.66 (C.40:48-2.12f), providing that the municipality shall pay the costs of eradication of 1[an infestation] the presence1 of bedbugs, and that the costs shall be charged against the multiple dwelling premises, and 2[shall] may2 be a lien against the premises.  2In the event that a landlord fails to pay the costs pursuant to this section, the municipality or local board may serve written notice of the failure to pay, and shall demand that the deficiency be cured within 10 days.  Judicial notice or hearing shall be required to enforce the lien.2  The owner of the multiple dwelling shall reimburse the local health officer or local board for the actual costs incurred for any eradication of 1[an infestation] the presence1 of bedbugs.

 

     16.   (New section)  a.  An owner shall visually inspect the unit no more than 30 days prior to the date a new lease term commences or a new tenant commences occupancy of a dwelling unit, except for a dwelling unit rented, occupied, or leased for seasonal use.  The owner shall visually inspect any dwelling unit rented, occupied, or leased for seasonal use that has been unoccupied for 30 days or more prior to the date a new lease term commences or a new tenant commences occupancy of a dwelling unit.  The owner shall include a provision in the lease certifying that the owner has visually inspected the dwelling unit for the presence of bedbugs.

     b.    An owner may visually inspect a dwelling unit for evidence of the presence of bedbugs when an tenant terminates occupancy of the unit.  If the owner ascertains the presence of bedbugs, of which the owner has not received notice pursuant to section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the presence of bedbugs may constitute damages to the unit beyond normal wear and tear, and the owner may itemize and deduct from the tenant's security deposit pursuant to section of 3 of P.L.1971, c.223 (C.46:8-21.1) 3, provided that the landlord has complied with the procedures set forth in subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.   , c.   (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)3. 

     c.     The owner may also deduct from the security deposit any costs for eradication services for which the tenant is responsible pursuant to section 7 of P.L.    , c.   (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and that are due and owing to the landlord 3, provided that the landlord has complied with the procedures set forth in subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.    , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)3.1

 

     17.   (New section)  If repeated eradications are necessary due to the tenant's failure to properly maintain the dwelling, the costs of eradication may be charged to the tenant 3, provided that the landlord has complied with the procedures set forth in subsection c. of section 3 of P.L.    , c.    (C.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)3.1

 

     1[6.] 8.1  (New section)  a.  Any owner of a multiple dwelling whose negligence or failure to act results in action by the local health officer pursuant to section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be liable for a civil penalty of not more than $300 for each affected dwelling unit and not more than $1000 for each affected common area in the multiple dwelling. Such penalty shall be 1[recoverable] recovered1 by and in the name of the local board of health1, if one exists.  If no local board exists, the penalty shall be paid into the treasury of the municipality in which the violation occurred for the general uses of the municipality. 2[If the violation is of a continuing nature, each day during which it continues constitutes an additional, separate, and distinct offense1]2.

     b.    The local board or local health officer may bring an action in 1[any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce] a summary manner pursuant to the "Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999," P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.), and the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey governing actions for the collection of civil penalties, in the municipal court or the Superior Court to recover1 a penalty imposed pursuant to subsection a. of this section.  The court is empowered to issue any appropriate injunctive orders, and to authorize immediate collection of reimbursable costs due the local board.

 

     1[7.] 9.1  (New section) The commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Community Affairs, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

     1[8.] 10.1  R.S.26:3-46 is amended to read as follows:

     26:3-46. The local board, within its jurisdiction, shall examine into and prohibit any nuisance, offensive matter, foul or noxious odors, gases or vapors, water in which mosquito larvae breed, and all causes of ill health or disease, including bedbugs, which may be known to  the board or brought to its attention, which, in its opinion, are injurious to  the health of the inhabitants therein, and shall cause the same to be removed  and abated at the expense of the owner.

(cf: R.S.26:3-46)

 

     1[9.] 11.1  R.S.26:3-49 is amended to read as follows:

     26:3-49. Whenever any nuisance, noxious gases or vapors, water in which mosquito larvae breed, or cause of ill health or disease is found on private property, the local board shall notify the owner to remove and abate the same, at his own  expense, within such time as the board may specify.  A duplicate of the notice  shall be left with one or more of the tenants or occupants.  Whenever any infestation of bedbugs is found in a multiple dwelling, the local board shall notify the owner to eradicate the infestation, at his own expense, immediately.

     If the owner resides out of the state or cannot be so notified speedily, a notice left at the house or premises with the tenant or occupant, or posted on the premises, shall suffice.

     In the event that an owner does not eradicate an infestation of bedbugs immediately following notice pursuant to this section, the local board of health is authorized to act as an a agent for the landlord, pursuant to section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ), for purposes of eradicating the infestation.

(cf: R.S.26:3-49)

 

     1[10.] 12.1  R.S.26:3-54 is amended to read as follows:

     26:3-54. The local board may recover, by a civil action, the expenses incurred in such removal and abatement from any person who shall have caused or allowed such nuisance, source of foulness, water in which mosquito larvae breed, or cause of sickness, hazardous to the public health to exist, or from any owner, tenant, or occupant of premises who, after notice as herein provided, shall fail to remove and abate the same within the time specified in the notice.  The  local board may recover, by a civil action, the expenses incurred in eradication of an infestation of bedbugs, pursuant to section 5 of P.L.    , c.   (C.    ), from the owner of  a multiple dwelling who, after notice, failed to eradicate the infestation of bedbugs.

(cf: P.L.1953, c.26, s.14)

 

     113.  Section 7 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-7) is amended to read as follows:

     7.  The commissioner shall issue and promulgate, in the manner specified in section 8 of P.L.1967, c.76 (C.55:13A-8), such regulations as the commissioner may deem necessary to assure that any hotel or multiple dwelling will be maintained in such manner as is consistent with, and will protect, the health, safety and welfare of the occupants or intended occupants thereof, or of the public generally.

     Any such regulations issued and promulgated by the commissioner pursuant to this section shall provide standards and specifications for such maintenance materials, methods and techniques, fire warning and extinguisher systems, elevator systems, emergency egresses, and such other protective equipment as the commissioner shall deem reasonably necessary to the health, safety and welfare of the occupants or intended occupants of any units of dwelling space in any hotel or multiple dwelling, including but not limited to:

     (a)   Structural adequacy ratings;

     (b)   Methods of egress, including fire escapes, outside fireproof stairways, independent stairways, and handrails, railings, brackets, braces and landing platforms thereon, additional stairways, and treads, winders, and risers thereof, entrances and ramps;

     (c)   Bulkheads and scuttles, partitions, walls, ceilings and floors;

     (d)   Garbage and refuse collection and disposal, cleaning and janitorial services, repairs, and extermination services;

     (e)   Electrical wiring and outlets, and paints and the composition thereof;

     (f)    Doors, and the manner of opening thereof;

     (g)   Transoms, windows, shafts and beams;

     (h)   Chimneys, flues and central heating units;

     (i)    Roofing and siding materials;

     (j)    Lots, yards, courts and garages, including the size and location thereof;

     (k)   Intakes, open ducts, offsets and recesses;

     (l)    Windows, including the size and height thereof;

     (m) Rooms, including the area and height thereof, and the permissible number of occupants thereof;

     (n)   Stairwells, skylights and alcoves;

     (o)   Public halls, including the lighting and ventilation thereof;

     (p)   Accessory passages to rooms;

     (q)   Cellars, drainage and air space;

     (r)    Water-closets, bathrooms and sinks;

     (s)   Water connections, including the provision of drinking and hot and cold running water;

     (t)    Sewer connections, privies, cesspools, and private sewers;

     (u)   Rain water and drainage conductors;

     (v)   Entrances and ramps; [and]

     (w)  Presence of lead-based paint hazards in multiple dwellings and in single-family and two-family dwellings, exclusive of owner-occupied dwelling units, subject to P.L.2003, c.311 (C.52:27D-437.1 et al.).  In a common interest community, any inspection fee for and violation found within a unit which is solely related to this subsection shall be the responsibility of the unit owner and not the homeowners' association, unless the association is the owner of the unit; and

     (x)   Presence of bedbugs, as defined in section 2 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), or the presence of other vermin and pests in multiple dwellings.1

(cf: P.L.2007, c.251, s.5)

 

     1[11.] 14.1  This act shall take effect immediately.