For New Yorkers who have bedbugs, their landlords have responsibility to get rid of the infestations from the apartments. NY1’s Real Estate reporter Jill Urban filed the following report.
The city’s bedbug epidemic is a hot topic, especially on the tenant’s rights hotline at the Metropolitan Council on Housing in NoHo. The volunteers at this non-profit say they are yielding more calls than ever from desperate New Yorkers battling bedbugs and landlords who do not want to properly exterminate.
Unfortunately, a lot of New York City landlords are used to doing the cheapest fix or repair possible and when it comes to exterminating bed bugs, that’s just not going to work, says Mario Mazzoni of the Metropolitan Council on Housing. The bedbugs are going to stay if you don’t do the right kind of extermination.
NY1 asked the council a few of the most common questions about tenants’ rights regarding bedbugs. First, what if your landlord claims you brought them in and cleaning them is your responsibility?
That is absolutely not true. The landlord is entirely responsible for getting rid of every single bedbug in your apartment, and a responsible landlord will inspect every apartment around an infested apartment and across the hall, says Vajra Kilgour of the Metropolitan Council on Housing. If they haven’t done that and bedbugs turn up in your house, you may be able to show that the landlord was negligent.
If your landlord refuses to take necessary action, you can call 311 to file official complaints with the property city and state agencies, or you take steps to take an owner to Housing Court.
What about the cost of cleaning personal items? The landlord is responsible for the cost of the extermination and any repeat treatments, but the landlord is not necessarily responsible for laundering or dry cleaning expenses or temporary relocation fees. You can fight for this if you can prove your landlord was negligent.
As a tenant, you must allow access to your apartment for the clean-up and cooperate with the exterminator. If not, you could be considered negligent and held responsible for an infestation in the building.
Many tenants ask if they can bring in their own exterminator.
You can bring your own exterminator in, says Kilgour. You should make sure that person is licensed and that the person knows what he or she is doing and does an excellent job, because if they don’t do an excellent job, the landlord might hold you liable for not doing a good enough job.
Some tenants wonder if they can just break their lease and walk away. A lease is a contract and cannot be broken without the consent of both parties. Unless you can prove the infestation constructively evicted you from the home, you would still be responsible for the rent for the remainder of the lease. You also may just be taking the bedbugs with you.
To answer more questions like these, visit MetCouncil.net.