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Bedbug bills proposed by Queens leaders

State legislators representing western Queens are pushing legislation that would require landlords and city schools to disclose whether their buildings have ever been plagued by bedbugs.

State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights) sponsored a bill that would force landlords to provide information to potential tenants on whether the pesky bugs had ever infiltrated the buildings they own. The Senate passed the bill last week.

The bill follows Assemblyman Michael Gianaris’ (D-Astoria) legislation that would require schools to provide notification to parents if bedbugs were found on their sites. The bill has passed in both of the state’s legislative houses.

Astoria and other western Queens neighborhoods have been hit especially hard by bedbugs in recent years.

“Bedbugs have become an insidious nuisance for renters throughout the state because landlords often times do not disclose infestations,” Peralta said. “Tenants have the right to know if the apartment or house they are renting was previously occupied by bedbugs.”

The state Senate has also passed a bill that would prevent used bedding to be transported, sold or stored with new bedding unless it has been approved by the city Department of Health.

The elusive insect feeds primarily on the blood of humans or other warm-blooded animals. Its name derives from the bug’s preferred habitat in beds or other areas where people sleep.

Bedbugs are mainly active at night and are able to feed unnoticed on their hosts.

They can live up to one year without feeding, so infested apartments are often difficult to detect.

“Parents need to be notified when their children are exposed to these irritating and harmful parasites,” Gianaris said of his bill. “It’s high time we take the strides to prevent the spread of these nasty creatures that have plagued thousands of New Yorkers.”

The bill now goes before Gov. David Paterson for approval.

If a bedbug is discovered in a school, only the family of an affected child is currently notified.

According to the National Pest Management Association, complaints about bedbugs have increased 50 percent across the United States during the past five years.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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