Did Norah Jones Bring Bedbugs Home?

Starting Dec. 3, singer Norah Jones -- along with all other New York City residents -- will have to help fight the bedbug infestation crawling through the city by following new rules enacted by the New York City Department of Sanitation. Jones, who recently was alleged to have brought bedbugs to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill, will be required "to fully encase within a sealed plastic bag all mattresses or box springs being discarded for DSNY collection."

Jones, the platinum-selling indie singer and daughter of international superstar sitarist Ravi Shankar, has been accused of bringing a bedbug infestation to the neighborhood when she moved her furniture into her brownstone.

Jones, 31, was slapped with the bedbug-related lawsuit following the home renovations (that includes a pool) she commissioned for her $4.9 million pad.

Under the new rule, the sanitation department hopes to curb bedbugs from squatting in the crevices of homes and apartments such as Jones' and her neighbors'. City residents who fail to follow the new rules properly will receive full enforcement of the $100 fine starting Jan. 3, 2011.

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Whether or not Jones has bedbugs and has infested Clinton Hill is debatable. Teri Karush Rogers, of BrickUndergroundNY however, has advice on what to do if you suspect that you, your neighbor or someone else in your neighborhood has been terrorized by the pesky residential stigma that is bedbugs.

If you suspect that your neighborhood has an infestation ...

1. Don't pick up furniture off the curb -- even when it's fabulous. Unless you plan to take that gorgeous Victorian headboard to a fumigation facility, leave it where you saw it. There's a reason such a nice piece of furniture has been discarded.

2. Talk to the super or whomever is in control and in charge of the upkeep of the building. If it's an adjoining building talk to your building super and the super next door. In older buildings it is rare, but bedbugs can come through the walls.

3. Makes sure the mattress, furniture and trash are sealed properly for disposal. There are special bags that can be bought at Home Depot that contain and seal your old belongings correctly.

4. Once home, leave your shoes and bags/purses by your door. You want to keep them away from your sofa and bed, in case you stepped on a bedbug egg. Rogers suggests throwing those items in the dryer for an hour if you're feeling extra paranoid. The high heat will kill those eggs. Those still apprehensive about entering a movie theater should avoid putting anything on the floor.

5. Be polite, friendly and sensitive if you have to approach your neighbor about this embarrassing SNAFU. There is still a stigma to having bedbugs and people will certainly be on the defensive. Find a way to figure out how how they are handling their infestation and determine if it's the best way. Especially if the victim is a friend, you might consider not bringing a bag or coat over when you stop by. Also beware of kids and housekeepers transporting those bedbugs from home to home.

If you suspect your building or your apartment has an infestation ...

1. Contact the building's management company and/or any board your building is a part of. Make the people in charge aware of the problem so that they can bring in an exterminator immediately. Some buildings use less-than-spectacular exterminators, so you might want to hire your own, in addition. Note: Renters insurance doesn't cover these costs and many landlords/management companies won't cover additional exterminators. Rogers says to be careful when involving any housing courts, as it can leave a black mark on your record for future renting situations. Rather, it's always nice to have a lawyer friend who can draft a letter that puts pressure on the landlord and management company to do the right thing.

2. Make sure the inspectors and exterminators concentrate on all the apartments surrounding the infested one. The exterminator should follow a "clover leaf formation" that includes apartments above and below, in addition to those on either side. The protocol, says Rogers, is to keep inspecting each unit until they all come up clean. Always ask the exterminator what his or her process is.

3. Seal your apartment and defend your perimeters. That includes every crack or crevice, electrical socket -- anywhere the odor of cigarette smoke could get in is where a bedbug could come in as well. The exterminator will be blowing diatomaceous earth dust into those crevices to create a permimeter that cuts those little critters open and kills them. One common fear concerns pets, but Rogers says that pets do not get infested with bedbugs.

4. Buy a mattress protector that encases the mattress on your bed. Choose a high quality one that doesn't rip and has a tough zipper lock. Include in your purchase intersector traps. These are like little coasters for your bed legs which prevent bedbugs from crawling up and making your bed their new home.

5. Steer clear of the communal laundry room! If you must, though, avoid any folding tables or communal carts (especially canvas-covered ones).

For more on bedbugs and related topics see these AOL Real Estate guides:

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