New York City is seeking to squash bedbugs with new rules for landlords who have infestations.
Mayor Bloomberg's administration and the City Council announced regulations Tuesday that will require building owners to inspect and all surrounding apartments of any unit that has the bloodsucking pests.
They take effect immediately.
Landlords must also notify all tenants when bedbugs are found, and they must provide a pest-fighting plan. They will be required to get a licensed exterminator to say in a sworn affidavit that the bedbugs are being treated.
Building owners and landlords who ignore the rules and fail to take action will face fines.
The city also launched a new website that will help New Yorkers fight bedbugs. It provides information on how to prevent and treat infestations, as well as other information related to the pests.
"Controlling bedbugs is difficult, but not impossible," said Daniel Kass, deputy commissioner for environmental health. "People are often afraid to report bedbugs and many don't know how to get help to get rid of them."
Bedbug complaints have shot up in recent years as the pests have spread across the city and around the world.
The city received 537 bedbug complaints in 2004, and in 2009 there were nearly 11,000.
A city health department survey in 2009 found that one in 15 adult New Yorkers had battled the pests the previous year.
They are notoriously difficult to eradicate, and can go for long periods without feeding. They have moved past hiding in New Yorkers' beds and are now popping up in schools, theaters and stores.