A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: co-op building

Bed Bugs: To Tell or Not to Tell, That is the Question

By Tafiya Khan

“Such [bed] bugs and goblins in my life!”  So groused Mr. Melancholy himself, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which tells us that bed bugs are not a new, 21st century phenomena.  These tiny wingless insects feed on blood, multiply quickly and hide in crevices, mattresses, books, Abercrombie & Fitch, and hospitals.  Extremely difficult to exterminate, they move from room to room, person to person, and generally, make the Ten Plagues of Egypt seem like a holiday. So, forget Twilight and True Blood.  These blood suckers are the real deal, and they’re not going anywhere.

Last month, The New York Times Magazine’s resident Ethicist, Randy Cohen (that’s right, he’s back!), dished out some advice on bed bug disclosure.   His correspondent, “Name Withheld,” wrote Mr. Cohen asking whether she should tell her NYC coop neighbors that her apartment had been infested with, and treated for, bed bugs.  She’d already checked with her coop board, which had left it to her discretion.  She’d also checked with the coop management company, which had discouraged disclosure to avoid panicking the residents.  Mr. Cohen was disappointed.  After all, he answered, isn’t the management company responsible for preventing things like bed bug infestation?

Hmmmm…This sounds like we’re bordering on a legal obligation.   But are we?  Does a management company have a duty to disclose prior bed bug infestations to coop residents?

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