Chicago’s City Council endorsed a proposal last week that would allow the city to fine landlords who fail to eradicate bed bug infestations. The proposal pending approval by the city also declares bed bugs a public nuisance.
The measure requires landlords to hire licensed professionals to kill bed bugs, and to inspect neighboring units to see if the bugs have spread. The proposal also bars landlords from ending a lease, increasing rent, decreasing services or suing a tenant because a renter has reported a bedbug infestation. Fines start at up to $500 a day, then double and triple for additional violations.
Chicago tenants will have some additional responsibilities as well – they are required to report bed bug infestations within five days of discovering them, and must cooperate with efforts by their landlord to kill bed bugs. Tenants will also have to completely seal and label items infested by the bugs before removing them from a residence.
The Chicago Association of Realtors supports this measure, a revised edition of a bill they previously opposed. Alderman Ray Suarez made some of changes the association requested, and hopes the ordinance will encourage landlords to do everything they can as fast as they can to deal with bed bug problems. “I hope that it will solve a major problem in a lot of the areas where there’s a lot of buildings that have bed bugs,” said Suarez.
The proposal had been amended several times since its introduction at the end of April, but it’s closer now than ever to being approved and put into law.