Bill Addresses Infestations in Multi-Unit Buildings and Hotels

Harrisburg – April 1, 2011—-Senator Farnese today announced that he has introduced Senate Bill 908, a free-standing act that will address the growing health concerns regarding bed bug infestations in multi-unit buildings and hotels.

“Bedbugs are a public nuisance, and it is a matter of public welfare to protect the citizens of Pennsylvania from this insect,” said Senator Farnese.
Due to a rise in bed bug infestations nationwide and in Pennsylvania, particularly in Philadelphia, Senator Farnese introduced the legislation to reduce the infestation of these pests.

“This legislation is designed to allow Pennsylvania to continue as a competitive tourist destination and also to ensure that the health of our residents is protected,” said Senator Farnese. “The aim of my proposed legislation is to establish procedures to prevent and eradicate bed bugs in certain residential properties and hotels.”

Senate Bill 908 addresses the public health concerns associated with bed bug infestations in several ways:

  1. It will require an owner or landlord of a multi-unit building to maintain a clean and safe living environment free of bedbugs. It provides that property owners are responsible for the maintenance of a bed bug-free facility and must remove bed bugs at their own expense upon notification of their presence. The legislation would also provide that any owner or landlord who does not take prompt actions to remedy a bed bug infestation in a property upon written notice will be financially liable for the consequences. Such financial liability would include penalties or fines enforceable by the appropriate local governing authority in accordance with the number of dwelling units and common areas affected by an infestation.
  2. This bill will also require certification that no more than 30 days prior to a new lease term or a new tenant commencing occupancy of a dwelling unit that the unit has been inspected by a professional pest control specialist and is bed bug-free. This will be done at the owner’s expense. They must also have the common areas of the property inspected by a professional pest control specialist every six months at their own expense and include the date of the most recent inspection in the lease.
  3. The legislation would also provide for additional legal rights and responsibilities for both owners and tenants in ensuring bed bug infestations are mitigated. This would include tenant liability if they have not notified the owner of a known infestation.
  4. The bill would also require written certification to hotel guests upon check-in that the facilities, including a percentage of bedrooms and common areas such as lobbies, restaurants and lounges, have been inspected by a professional pest control specialist for and are free of bed bugs. The inspections will be required on a quarterly basis.
  5. The legislation would also require an owner of a hotel, upon written or verbal notice from a guest, immediately takes steps to eradicate any bed bug infestation at the owner’s cost. Hotel owners who do not take prompt and appropriate actions to eradicate the infestation would face fines enforceable by the appropriate local governing authority in accordance with the number of infested bedrooms and common areas.
    The legislation provides for civil penalties for owners who fail to comply with the law. Fines would range from $300 for each affected unit to $1000 for each affected common area in a hotel or multiunit building.

“The bedbug population has increased by 500% in the past several years,” said Senator Farnese. “Philadelphia ranks second only to New York in terms of the severity of the problem. We must do what we can to protect people against exposure to these pests.”

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