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New D.C. bill seeks to alleviate bedbug issues

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A recent report named the D.C. area the second-worst for the pests among U.S. metro areas

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Perhaps don’t read this before going to sleep: In a report released last year by Atlanta-based Orkin Pest Control, the D.C. area ranked second among U.S. metro areas, behind Baltimore, for the worst bedbug problems. Now, District lawmakers are considering ways to get rid of those pesky critters. A new bill, the “Bedbug Control Act of 2019,” proposes potential fixes.

Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who represents Columbia Heights, Adams Morgan, and other Northwest neighborhoods, introduced the bill last week, at the D.C. Council’s first legislative meeting of the year. The legislation would establish regulations on the removal of bedbugs from residential properties. Among other things, it would require landlords to apply “continuous eradication measures” to their units when bedbugs or other insects are found to have caused infestations. It would also require landlords to notify tenants of past outbreaks.

“Bedbugs...cause physical harm through their bites, which can cause some to have allergic reactions or become infected due to scratching,” Nadeau said, citing the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency. “Single dwellings harboring bedbugs in one rowhouse or apartment can lead to block-wide or apartment-wide infestations.” Nadeau added that her constituents have “frequently” raised concerns about bedbugs with her office.

At-Large Councilmember David Grosso co-sponsored the bill, which Council Chairman Phil Mendelson referred to the Council’s committees on health and of the whole for review. This legislation authorizes the District’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to conduct inspections for bedbugs and issue fines that “support methods of abatement.” In certain circumstances, DCRA would be permitted to inspect neighboring units suspected of having bug infestations that seem to be proliferating through shared walls, floors, or ceilings.

Nadeau’s bill would additionally create a special city fund to help homeowners procure pest-remediation services. Homeowners would be restricted to $500 per residence in fund grants.