In New York City, bedbugs are nothing to worry about. That is, unless you visit department stores, movie theaters, hospitals, Lincoln Center, the Wall Street Journal offices or any of the numerous apartments housing the bloodsucking creatures.
But perhaps those too afraid to cower under their covers can find some solace in the city's latest strategy to combat bedbugs.
The City Council and Bloomberg administration officials will announce stepped-up rules today targeting landlords who neglect bedbug problems in their buildings.
Under the new rules -- which take effect immediately -- building owners must inspect and treat apartments next to, above and below any unit that has bedbugs. They also must notify all tenants when bedbugs have been detected and distribute a plan on eradicating them.
Property owners who repeatedly ignore bedbug issues will have to get a licensed exterminator to fill out a sworn affidavit affirming that the infestation has been dealt with. Landlords can now also face fines from the Department of Health if they continue to do nothing to eliminate bedbugs.
"We're sending the message that we're taking this seriously," City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. "People are very nervous about bedbugs."
According to experts, 2011 will be a banner year for the pests, as infestations are expected to increase significantly.
The problem has become so severe that landlords have begun asking potential tenants whether they've ever lived with bedbugs.