Bed bugs and the law in New York City

Though we get a lot of inquiries on this subject, we’re not in a position to give legal advice, and so we simply listed all the relevant references in our resources page, but they’re hard to find.

So, we’re not lawyers but we can at least show you where to find information and what the statutes actually say. We’ve naturally tried to talk to legal experts about the more obscure bed bug legal issues but so far have not been successful.

This discussion is not legal advice, is intended to help you find available sources and references, focuses on rental residential dwellings and, as it relates to actions that a tenant may take, is limited to those that deal with obtaining remediation of the infestation itself. Lawsuits for damages and personal injury are not discussed. We will look at the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, the New York City Housing Maintenance Code, New York Real Property Law and the New York City Health Code, and list sources of help and self-help.

For what it’s worth, to my mind the real question is not whether landlords are responsible to eradicate bed bug infestations, because my reading is that they are in all types of dwellings where there is a landlord/tenant relationship except where the tenant’s negligence has caused the infestation—I’m not sure I can figure out what that means in practice—but what are the practical remedies available to tenants when landlords refuse to help, or when the infestation continues unabated for months and even years, or when what the tenant really wants is no longer to obtain pest control services, but to move out and break the lease, or to sue for damages, or to compel their landlord to take action against the perceived source of the infestation within the building when that source is thought to be the apartment of an uncooperative tenant.

Also interesting from the policy perspective is the apparent inadequacy of the provisions of law against the nature of bed bug infestations and the current practice of bed bug management. There are numerous complicating factors. First, bed bugs easily spread between apartments, and this has two immediate effects: it becomes essential to inspect and identify other apartments that may be infested in order to eradicate the infestation and it is practically difficult if not impossible to ascertain the ultimate source of an infestation. Second, detection of bed bug infestations is difficult in cases of low-level infestation, so that city housing inspectors may not see the bed bugs and therefore not cite the violation. Third, even good bed bug management practices may fail to eradicate the infestation because the tools and skills currently available are inadequate, because the preparation requirements placed on tenants may be difficult to comply with, and because new infestations may develop, so that even the landlord’s good faith efforts may still fail. Fourth, the conventional wisdom is that bed bug infestations are so difficult that they are regarded strictly as a job for professionals, and so tenants are discouraged from self-treatment; it is also illegal for landlords who are not licensed pest control professionals to apply certain bed bug treatments. Fifth, professional bed bug eradication is prohibitively expensive. Sixth…

Co-ops and Condos

For a discussion of co-op and condo responsibilities, please refer to Richard Siegler’s and Eva Talel’s article, Dealing with Bedbugs (PDF), New York Law Journal, November 5, 2008.

The Warranty of Habitability

Interestingly, the only information on the warranty of habitability available on the city’s website is in a FAQ from the legal department of the city’s Commission for the United Nations Consular Corps & Protocol. The FAQ disclaims policy or legal positions, but we’ll take the city’s summary take on this wherever we can find it:

Warranty of Habitability

Tenants have the right to reside in a comfortable, safe, and sanitary apartment. Landlords must provide heat and hot water on a regular basis. They also must control insect/pest infestation. If a landlord breaches this agreement, the tenant may sue for a rent reduction. The tenant may also withhold rent for recurring conditions, but in response, the landlord may sue the tenant for nonpayment of rent. In such a case, the tenant may counter sue for breach of the warranty. Any adverse condition caused by the tenant or other persons under the tenant’s direction or control does not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability by the landlord. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the tenant to remedy the condition. Rent reductions may be ordered if a court finds that the landlord violated the warranty of habitability. The reduction is computed by subtracting from the actual rent, the estimated value of the apartment without the essential services. A landlord’s liability for damages may be limited when the failure to provide services is the result of circumstances beyond the landlord’s control. For example, a water main break or workers’ strike. In cases of emergency or neglect by the landlord, tenants may make necessary repairs and deduct the reasonable repair costs from rent when due. For example, when a landlord has been notified that a sink is leaking and willfully neglects to repair it, the tenant may hire a plumber and deduct the cost from the rent. Tenants should obtain receipts for the repairs and present them to the landlord along with a written explanation of the deduction from the rent.

The warranty of habitability is codified in New York State under Real Property Law Section 235-b which states in part:

In every written or oral lease or rental agreement for residential premises the landlord or lessor shall be deemed to covenant and warrant that the premises so leased or rented and all areas used in connection therewith in common with other tenants or residents are fit for human habitation and for the uses reasonably intended by the parties and that the occupants of such premises shall not be subjected to any conditions which would be dangerous, hazardous or detrimental to their life, health or safety. When any such condition has been caused by the misconduct of the tenant or lessee or persons under his direction or control, it shall not constitute a breach of such covenants and warranties.

This warranty cannot be waived or modified by either landlord or tenant and as you can see applies whether the lease agreement is written or not. It’s also important to understand that the warranty of habitability applies to lease agreements for any type of residential dwelling. So whether the rental is a two-family home or a multi-unit apartment building, the warranty is implied in every lease.

A great article by Stanley Panesoff of the Community Training Resource Center on the warranty of habitability that I recommend you read in its entirety provides some historical background:

Before 1971, residential tenants would sign leases which relegated most of the responsibility for repairs and maintenance to the tenants themselves. [...] Whether the tenant had a written lease or oral agreement, the landlord’s failure to maintain the apartment or building in a habitable state (or to furnish services specified in a lease) in no way diminished the landlord’s right to collect the rent, even if the landlord was in violation of local and state laws or housing codes. A 1971 court decision in Manhattan, noting the inequity of the landlord/tenant contract, read housing code requirements into residential leases as the minimum standard of habitability and awarded damages to the tenant for the landlord’s lack of a good faith effort to make necessary repairs.

What constitutes a breach of the warranty of habitability and any resulting damages are matters decided in court. Panesoff raises the possibility that tenants may not succeed:

However there is no guarantee that tenants will succeed in getting repairs or rent abatements, because some judges may refuse to enforce the Warranty of Habitability.

Panesoff cites some conditions that have been deemed a breach of the warranty of habitability. Vermin and rodent infestation are at the top of his list of examples.

He also outlines the remedies available in practical terms, noting especially the steps tenants should take before “negotiations or court appearances involving building conditions that violate the Warranty.” These include advising the landlord of the problem in writing (keeping photocopies and sending all correspondence by certified mail, return receipt requested), taking photographs, and reporting violations to the city.

As you probably already know, there is a well-known case of the warranty of habitability applied to bed bugs, Ludlow Properties v. Young. The tenant withheld rent and claimed a breach of the warranty of habitability as a defense in the landlord’s non-payment suit. The tenant was awarded a substantial rent abatement. The bed bug infestation in his case was long-standing and intractable.

Note: Before you consider any actions such as withholding rent to force your landlord to eradicate an infestation or moving out and breaking your lease in the expectation that you will be able to assert a breach of the warranty of habitability as a defense or counterclaim in the event of a lawsuit, you should consult a lawyer or tenant advocate.

The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law

The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law applies to cities with populations of more than 325,000. (Cities of less than 325,000 inhabitants and towns and villages are covered by the New York State Multiple Residence Law.)

A multiple dwelling is:

a dwelling which is either rented, leased, let or hired out, to be occupied, or is occupied as the residence or home of three or more families living independently of each other.

A very useful summary of the statutory rights of tenants is maintained by Stuart Lawrence of Housing Conservation Coordinators. Here LL stands for landlord, T for tenant:

2. Right to Repairs and Clean Premises

Multiple Residence Law § 174

Multiple Dwelling Law §§ 78, 80 [NYC]

LL shall keep all and every part of a multiple dwelling (three or more residential units) and the lot it is on in good repair, clean and free from vermin, rodents, dirt, filth, garbage or other matter dangerous to life or health. T also liable if T or T’s guests willfully or negligently cause violation.

The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law, Section 78, says in part:

§ 78. Repairs. 1. Every multiple dwelling, including its roof or roofs, and every part thereof and the lot upon which it is situated, shall be kept in good repair. The owner shall be responsible for compliance with the provisions of this section; but the tenant also shall be liable if a violation is caused by his own wilful act, assistance or negligence or that of any member of his family or household or his guest. Any such persons who shall wilfully violate or assist in violating any provision of this section shall also jointly and severally be subject to the civil penalties provided in section three hundred four.

Vermin are specifically mentioned in Section 80 which states in part:

§ 80. Cleanliness. 1. The owner shall keep all and every part of a multiple dwelling, the lot on which it is situated, and the roofs, yards, courts, passages, areas or alleys appurtenant thereto, clean and free from vermin, dirt, filth, garbage or other thing or matter dangerous to life or health.

My reading of this is clear, in a building of three or more apartments, the landlord is responsible for the eradication of bed bug infestations. If the infestation is caused by the tenant’s negligence, however, then the tenant is also responsible.

Why am I not addressing the definition of vermin? 1 Because we’re not Cincinnati and on this point need not follow their lead.

What constitutes tenant negligence? I don’t know. But unfortunately it’s not hard to imagine plausible scenarios. An interesting question, given the language of the statute, is whether the landlord is still responsible for bed bug eradication despite any tenant liability for negligence.

The NYS Multiple Dwelling Law seems clear and straightforward enough.

The New York City Housing Maintenance Code

The New York City Housing Maintenance Code, contrary to popular belief, applies to all dwellings, see Article 1, Section 27-2003. Confusion may have arisen because Section 27-2005 provides that:

Sec. 27-2005 Duties of owner

a. The owner of a multiple dwelling shall keep the premises in good repair.

b. The owner of a multiple dwelling, in addition to the duty imposed upon such owner by subdivision a of this section, shall be responsible for compliance with the requirements of this code, except insofar as responsibility for compliance is imposed upon the tenant alone.

c. The owner of a one- or two-family dwelling shall keep the premises in good repair, and shall be responsible for compliance with the provisions of this code, except to the extent otherwise agreed between such owner and any tenant of such dwelling by lease or other contract in writing, or except insofar as responsibility for compliance with this code is imposed upon the tenant alone.

My reading of this is that in the case of a one- or two-family dwelling there may be a (written) lease that assigns certain repair and maintenance responsibilities to the tenant. So you should check your lease and consult a legal aid organization if this is your case. However, even if there were such a lease, remember that you could not possibly have waived the warranty of habitability.

Further confusion as to this question of whether one- or two-family homes are covered by the New York City Housing Maintenance Code arises because the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) does not require certain one- and two-family homes to be registered. Therefore, many people, such as superintendents and others familiar with certain aspects of housing code enforcement, will say that one- and two-family homes fall outside the scope of the Housing Maintenance Code. This is plainly not true. Is it possible then that HPD declines to enforce the New York City Housing Maintenance Code in one- and two-family homes? I can’t say, but I know that I personally witnessed an HPD representative fumbling an answer to the question of who is responsible for pest control in buildings under 3 units.

Then there is what HPD says on its website, in a section on housing code compliance for homeowners:

Note: The following applies to one- and two-family homes if they are occupied by tenants.

The core mission of HPD is to promote quality housing and livable neighborhoods for all New Yorkers. One important way HPD fulfills this mission is by enforcing compliance with the City’s Housing Maintenance Code and New York State’s Multiple Dwelling Law. HPD seeks to support the preservation of privately owned housing by making both tenants and landlords aware of their rights and responsibilities.

What does the New York City Housing Maintenance Code say about bed bugs? It’s the only relevant law that specifically mentions them, see Article 4, Section 27-2017(b):

Insects and other pests include the members of class insecta, including houseflies, lice, bees, cockroaches, moths, silverfish, beetles, bedbugs, ants, termites, hornets, mosquitoes and wasps, and such members of the phylum arthropoda as spiders, mites, ticks, centipedes and wood lice.

And so, Article 4, Section 27-2018 provides for mandatory extermination:

Sec. 27-2018 Rodent and insect eradication; mandatory extermination

a. The owner or occupant in control of a dwelling shall keep the premises free from rodents, and from infestations of insects and other pests, and from any condition conducive to rodent or insect and other pest life.

b. When any premises are subject to infestation by rodents or insects and other pests, the owner or occupant in control shall apply continuous eradication measures.

c. When the department makes the determination that any premises are infested by rodents, insects or other pests, it may order such eradication measures as the department deems necessary.

Despite the language here which makes the owner or the occupant in control responsible (suggesting a joint responsibility and therefore giving rise to confusion as to ultimate responsibility), as we know from Article 1, Section 27-2005(b) quoted above, the owner of a multiple dwelling (3 or more units) is responsible for compliance with the provisions of the Housing Maintenance Code unless the provisions make the tenant alone responsible, and therefore would be responsible for compliance with this provision in Section 27-2018 for mandatory extermination. The owner of a one- or two-family dwelling would also be similarly responsible except conceivably where agreed to otherwise with the tenant, in writing, as provided in Article 1, Section 27-2005(c). And, again, any such written lease agreement cannot possibly waive the implied warranty of habitability.

Why then the language about the occupant in control?  I don’t know.  My guess but only a guess: because the tenant is also responsible and may be cited if necessary, in the event of negligence, for example, as provided in the duties of tenants.

Please note that the landlord has the right to access the apartment for inspection or repairs with due notice, see Article 1, Section 27-2008. This is important because many building infestations hinge upon one or more apartments whose residents are not cooperating with treatment. It is up to the landlord to exercise his or her right to access the apartment. Many landlords will say that there’s nothing they can do when a tenant refuses inspections or treatments. Indeed, no one wants the various hassles associated with bed bugs, but some basic mechanisms are nevertheless in place.

You should also review the duties of tenants under the Housing Maintenance Code and grounds for eviction, one of which is the unreasonable refusal to allow access to landlord for repairs required by the code. Please note again that, as in the Multiple Dwelling Law, the tenant is liable for violations if they arise from negligence.

The New York City Housing Maintenance Code is not as clear and straightforward as the Multiple Dwelling Law, but it makes up for its ambiguities by expressly featuring our friend the bed bug.

The New York City Health Code

If you’ve followed the sad career of New York vs Bed Bugs, you might remember that we tried to get bed bugs into the New York City Health Code, Article 151, Pest Prevention and Management (PDF).

Alas.

In any case, on the subject of clear definitions, the revised §151.01(c) at least has the grace of defining “person in control” — a person in control is:

the owner, part owner, managing agent or occupant of premises or property, or any other person who has the use or custody of the same or any part thereof.

The original Article 151 listed bed bugs much in the way of the New York City Housing Code. Now it is simply pest, meaning “unwanted insects, rodents or other pests as determined by the Department.”

In addition to providing that properties shall be free of pests, §151.02(c) provides for pest management plans:

(c) Pest management plans. When the Department determines that, because of pest infestation or conditions conducive to pests, a written pest management plan is required, it shall order that a person in control of the premises write such a plan, maintain the plan in effect for such time as the Department shall specify, maintain a copy of the plan on the premises where the infestation or conditions were observed, and make a copy available, upon request, to the Department and, when specified by the Department, to occupants of the premises. In commercial and residential premises, when specified by the Department, the person in control of the premises shall post a sign at the building entrances stating that the pest management plan is in effect and identifying a location on the premises where a copy of the plan may be inspected. The plan shall include the following:

(1) Pest management strategies that will be employed on such premises;

(2) A schedule for routine inspections, determined by the person in control, for conditions conducive to pests and the presence of pests;

(3) Actions to be taken when pests are present;

(4) Instructions to premises’ occupants, tenants or other users on how to report the presence of pests to person(s) in control of the premises, with a notice conspicuously posted at building entrances indicating that such instructions are available and where occupants may obtain a copy;

(5) The name(s) and contact information for pest management businesses and/or professionals employed or contracted by the persons in control; and

(6) A log of visits by pest management professional(s) and the names of pesticides, if any, applied on each visit.

Emphasis added. This is interesting, is it not? Potentially useful.

Also, §151.02(d) provides for actions to eliminate conditions conducive to pests, including:

(2) Eliminate existing routes of pest movement by sealing and repairing holes, gaps, and cracks in walls, ceilings, floors, molding, baseboards, around conduits, and around and within cabinets by the use of sealants, plaster, cement, wood or other durable materials.

What is not at all clear is what is necessary for a residential building owner to be ordered to post a pest management plan, to caulk, etc. So I include the health code in this discussion mostly in the hope that it will be on your radar should it become clear in the future how it will be used by city agencies in relation to bed bug infestations and violations.

What can tenants do?

In the event of a dispute with your landlord over a bed bug infestation, you should consult a lawyer or tenant advocacy organization about the facts of your own situation. For legal assistance, visit LawHelp.org/NY and enter your zip code in the housing section, under private housing or public housing, to see organizations providing legal aid; see, as an example, the listings for a central Manhattan zip code here.

However, I should note at the outset that you are entitled to bring an action in housing court to get a judge to order your landlord to eradicate a bed bug infestation. It’s called an HP Action, Housing Part Action, and you don’t need a lawyer. The resource centers in housing court can provide information and help with filing. The filing fee can be waived if you cannot pay it. The City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court has an excellent how-to guide you should consult.

What actions can you take that fall short of going to housing court? You can file a complaint with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), by calling 311, in the hope that they will send an inspector to your apartment who will verify the infestation and cite your landlord. Bed bugs are a Class B housing violation and the landlord would have 30 days to correct but may request an extension, which would be reasonable considering how long it may take to eradicate the infestation even with appropriate measures. Unfortunately, this is not a very reliable method of achieving your objective, getting your infestation dealt with, because HPD does not inspect every complaint, may not find evidence of infestation (bed bugs in a jar are not considered evidence), and because your landlord may ignore the violation. If you live in public housing, you can report the infestation to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) centralized call center, (718) 707-7771, or simply 311. This may also not help because NYCHA may ignore your request for pest control services. Sorry, it is what it is. But violations will be part of the record in court if you decide to go to court. Needless to say, you should take care to document every action and fact.

You may be able to strengthen your position against your landlord by organizing other tenants who are also affected, and indeed how can they not be affected? Yes, this is sometimes very hard to do when the issue is bed bugs but you should know that others have succeeded with this approach.

You may also reach out to your elected representatives. You can find your council member here and you can also contact the Ombudsman Services Unit of the Office of the Public Advocate.

Other actions, such as withholding rent or breaking your lease, may work but may cause the landlord to take you to court. So you should consider such steps carefully and ensure that you are prepared. In my opinion, you should never undertake these steps without preparation and advice. These are some fact sheets that you can consult as your starting point:

I should add simply because sometimes it is asked and because the role of 311 is often misunderstood that obviously the first step is to ask the landlord for the service. Report the bed bug infestation to your landlord and ask for professional pest control service. Many landlords are aware of their responsibilities and are ready to fulfill them. If not, sometimes they may be persuaded with reasonable appeals to their self-interest (better to deal with an infestation before it spreads and costs a lot more money to eradicate) and with a set of well-researched documentation of their responsibilities. I am in no way suggesting this is easy, only that it has worked for others. I hope you don’t have to call 311 to file a complaint or go to court. But if you do, I hope the resources listed here are helpful to you.

In the end, of course, the situation is one where there are no adequate resources for anyone. The bed bugs are still winning.

  1. Seriously, we need not enter such a distracting and useless argument. The New York City Housing Maintenance Code clearly enumerates bed bugs as pests. Moreover, bed bugs fit quite nicely the dictionary definition of vermin, and finally, the city agency in charge of enforcing the Multiple Dwelling Law and the New York City Housing Maintenance Code, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), clearly considers that bed bugs are a housing violation and regularly cites landlords for bed bug infestations. []

47 comments

  1. Barbara

    our building has been sited as having bed bugs for at least a month now.
    we have an exterminator coming but its expensive and the landlord is not paying his bills ect due due a fire he had in one ofhis buildings and the economy ect. what can we do? this website is great.
    and yes bed bugs ect are becoming more common. ny 1 should report this now.

  2. Renee Corea

    Hi Barbara,

    You have rights under the law as noted above (what tenants can do). One of those rights is to organize other tenants. You can consult an experienced tenant advocate and/or the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court. The landlord should also seek assistance, perhaps from HPD, in this matter.

    But my .02 is this. The most cost-saving measure for the building is actually counter-intuitive: the systematic inspection of apartments adjacent to known infestations. Actively search for and try to find the extent of the infestation, instead of fearing the extent of the infestation. This is not easily grasped but once explained and understood and done, it will absolutely save money in the long run. The landlord also has to shop for pest control services on the premise that not every pest control company out there knows bed bugs.

    If a group of tenants meets with the landlord and there’s an understanding that getting rid of the bed bugs will be a shared responsibility, and if you (as in you, because if you leave this to the landlord, it won’t get done) undertake to educate all the tenants about bed bugs, their signs, what to look for, and about their obligations as well, their obligation to report infestations and follow instructions, then you stand a chance of eradicating the bed bugs from the building.

    There are no low-cost bed bug services in New York City. Yet. We hope this will change, but as of now, your best bet may be to help each other with information and advice. Learn everything you can about bed bugs. I recommend, for example, this publication.

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  4. navi sever

    Ny vs bed bugs-is a great idea,thank you!!! I am an employee of the City health care agency,I am trying to find the regulations for people like -how to protect ourselves from bringing b.b. home and spreading them among other clients.I cannot find a word on this issue.Agencies conceal from us the fact of infestation on the cases-so,we come to our clients apt. being not prepared and often become the carriers of the insects.Many home care workers have a deep fear of b.b.They cannot perform a guality service in such condition.What rights do we have ?

  5. Renee Corea

    Hi Navi,

    I will send you an email, okay?

    In the meantime, I want you to please review these two documents:

    1. Health care and social service guidelines for home visits, Guidelines for Reducing the Risk of Transporting Bed Bugs (PDF) from the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force. (By the way, people in Ohio have cars, as you will notice. But instead instead of leaving personal stuff in a car, which may not be feasible, think a sealed ziploc bag which you can find in many sizes. This is a great document and you will learn practical things such as the best way to remove protective gear, inside out.)

    2. The entire NYS IPM Program/Cornell Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities and specifically Part 3 (PDF).

    What is missing is of course the training that you should be receiving including the ways in which you can talk to your clients about what you are doing and why. But I hope that this will come. In the meantime I hope you can share this information with your colleagues.

    I will be in touch. This is a very important issue and I am so glad you asked this question. You can absolutely protect yourself from bed bugs while serving your clients. You can also help them by making sure that you report bed bug infestations so that they can get the help they need.

  6. barbara

    thank you ,renee. we found a great exterminator and educated the building as you suggested.
    and the hpd is also coming on any serious issues ect.

    also, i received my lease a few months ago and i noticed the rental increase was not correct. how can i correct this with the landlord? i have a rent stabilized apt. I have already signed and sent the lease andit was approved.

  7. Renee Corea

    Hi Barbara,

    I’m so glad things are working out.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about rent stabilization overcharges or errors. Have you spoken to the landlord? You can call the DHCR Rent Info Line, 718-739-6400, to find information or resources about this — assuming there are no more specific instructions on your lease or lease rider — see also this. Best of luck.

  8. barbara

    thank you again for all your help. I appreciate this and will share this with anyone who needs it.
    have a great weekend.

  9. Lori

    This site is a great source for info – but I must say with all the reading about bed bugs, I am convinced that the only way I am ever going to get peace of mind is to throw out almost all of my possessions, seal myself and my two cats in a hefty bag and move!

    I found out my building has a history with bed bugs for 2 YEARS!!!! And my super told me that the guy above me is most likely the source-he just lives with them!!!! Someone moved out six months ago that was adjacent to his apartment, and she left everything.

    I am in a rent-stabilized 16 unit building in Park Slope…paying a TON of money for my shoebox. My body has been ravaged with bites-I went to the ER because of it! Got a bite on my ear…and it infected my entire scalp and lymph nodes for two weeks. ER was stumped, but a week later I found my infestation-and now know what was going on!

    My building is in receivership, the management company is known for not caring…and I know that I can spend all the time and money in the world on dry cleaning, laundry, mattress protectors, etc…but until the other tenants are forced to do the same, I will only be wasting my time and money. And I am unemployed to boot! Researching this problem makes me feel totally powerless and stuck in a loop of sleepless, scratchy nights-I can’t move without a job!

    I hope NYC wakes up and enacts laws to protect tenants now!

  10. Renee Corea

    Hey there, Lori. I’m so sorry. Life is dealing you all of this all at once, I’m so sorry (I hope this means good things are on the horizon!) — please do not be despondent. You are not alone.

    As you are probably learning in your reading, the most reliable way to move (with your stuff and not have to throw it out) is by having your stuff professionally fumigated (in a truck or vault) or treated with heat. This is expensive, but perhaps less expensive than having to buy all new things.

    Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with the process or powers of receivers. I hope you can consult a legal aid organization about getting the apartment above you treated.

    More than anything I hope that you will be able to make your situation better in your apartment (and it will be worth it because you are highly allergic to the bites). I have two modest suggestions. I would consult with the pest control company (are you getting professional treatment?) about the strategic use of dusts because dusts remain effective as long as they are properly applied in cracks and crevices and undisturbed, and in a situation like yours where there is a source of potential reinfestation right above, it may help a great deal. Discuss it with the PCO; if they’re good, they may have other and better ideas to maximize your odds given the overall difficult situation you are in, and they can show you the places in your apartment that should be caulked or sealed as a priority (there are different schools of thought on the timing of caulking and sealing work and some believe it should happen after treatments). You can read a bit about desiccant dusts here. Also, I would try to save money by putting already clean dry-cleanables in the dryer instead of sending them to the cleaners. As long as they are dry they can withstand moderate heat (see the information provided by Dr. Potter on this subject here).

    I’ll just add, as it may help you feel less overwhelmed as you are doing your research, that you may not need to do everything that some other person who has bed bugs is doing. The internet is now full of bed bug information and advice. You need not follow, or literally buy, all of it.

    Thank you for your comment, Lori. I hope you can find some relief and some good management strategies until you can make other changes. I hope things get better.

  11. Lori

    Renee,
    Thanks for your reply – I am currently waiting to contact free legal-aid here in my area. They only accept calls for two hours a day, and only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The fumigation truck is not something I have heard of at all…and as for the dusts…how would that effect my pets? Right now, the pest control company contracted by my landlord/management company won’t even tell me if my neighbors are doing follow-up. And as for my apartment, the guy comes in with a can of something, a respirator on…and only stays there for a half-hour. This even after telling me that the bugs can hide anywhere there are cracks, wood, etc…and that they could be laying eggs in my picture frames, furniture, etc…and it wouldn’t be visible to the naked eye! I think you can see where one would just about be at the end of their rope as to what is real info, and what is just plain hysteria on this subject.

    The other problem I forgot to mention, is that no one in the building has ever reported bed bugs to 311. This of course means no one from the housing authority will probably every call me, let alone come out to inspect our building.
    The reason? Rent-stabilization…the long-term tenants don’t want to rock the boat as they are paying 600 bucks here in tony park slope, where as I am paying 1700 for the same tiny apartment here in one of the best locations, on a great block…etc…thanks for your reply, and I would enjoy hearing from anyone else who has had to seek legal advice on how to get some action from either the housing authority, or the health department.

  12. Renee Corea

    Just because no one has complained to HPD before does not mean that HPD will not come and inspect your apartment if you complain. (Whether they will issue a violation to your landlord depends on whether and what type of bed bug evidence is visible in your apartment.) But yes, I see what you mean. It’s very difficult to coordinate with neighbors who do not want to mount an organized effort.

    Bed bug eggs are visible, they are just very tiny and so your eyes need to adjust and many people say they only can identify them once they know what they look like. You can study photographs and you can save any specimens that you find to have them identified by an entomologist or professional. I’ll email.

    And I forgot: I meant to recommend this Univ of Minnesota document about professional bed bug control (PDF).

  13. Pingback: NYC Department of Health at National Bed Bug Summit (plus agenda and webinar details) — New York vs Bed Bugs

  14. DowntownDarling

    I’m a subtennant, my roommate has the lease. While I was on vacation we got a major infestation, I’m apparently part of the 2% of the population who is allergic. I got sick. because my roommate is a lazy hippie, he won’t do anything unless I withold rent. When I threatened to withold for Sept my roommate contacted the landlord who told him that we would have to pay for the exterminator, I told my roommate to contact the tennants association and he said he did but I am not 100% sure, he’s very lazy and also quite embarassed about this and asked me not to discuss it.

    The apartment has had mouse and roach infestations before, usually when I am away. I am out of town this week healing my 100+ bites at a friends place and I didn’t trust that my roommate would maintain or continue efforts if I paid, so I have not yet. I know that legally I have till the 13th or 15th to pay but beyond that, what are my rights?

    In my perception, my roommate is my landlord and although I am aware that bedbugs are not directly linked to cleanliness it is my position that his lack of general household hygine led to the extent of our infestation (6 months of laundry and an uncovered foam mattress seems like bedbug heaven).

    please advise

  15. Renee Corea

    I’m sorry, Downtown, I cannot advise you. You should consult a lawyer or advocate before you try to guess what your roommate may do if you withhold rent. Your roommate may do what you ask, or he may take you to court for the rent, or he may give you notice or… who knows what other scenarios could develop. You need to review your situation with a lawyer. You can try the Met Council hotline as a first step.

    I just want to mention that I don’t think there is any basis for the assumption that you can “legally” pay the rent late without repercussions (speaking generally, not to your specific circumstances and roommate lease agreement which you should again review with a lawyer). What happens when the rent is late is up to the landlord; some will let it slide and others may threaten or actually start non-payment proceedings (all they need do is make an oral or written demand for the rent). But there is no it’s okay to be late by so many days law.

    Also, I’m not sure, and perhaps you are not sure either, what your roommate’s housekeeping has to do with the bed bug infestation. There is no cause and effect relationship and not being allergic to the bites can produce the same result, delayed identification of an infestation. Remember that if a tenant or the tenant’s guests negligently cause the bed bug infestation, the tenant would be liable, so it’s not something to throw around casually.

    The whatever-percentage of the population that is allergic/not-allergic is not known. Sometimes it takes time for the bites to manifest. I’m sorry you had so many bites.

  16. Washington Heights

    Hello,
    The moment I spotted bedbug in my rental apt. I called the landlord to inform him, and after it was stated to me that the landlord would pay extermination costs, I made exterminator appt. and they came and exterminated.
    Now in this month’s rent invoice I am being charged a “Repair Fee” which, when I called the management office, was told was bedbug extermination costs. Question: Do you know if by law I am obligated to pay, or under the Warranty of Habitability the landlord is responsible for the extermination and costs?
    Thank you

  17. Renee Corea

    I’m not a lawyer and cannot advise you, so I suggest you contact one of the resources mentioned in this post to get qualified help in order to fight this. As you can see, the law says that a tenant is responsible if the tenant or a guest caused the infestation due to negligence. So it appears that the landlord is effectively blaming you for the infestation and attempting to recover the costs of eradication. I think that landlords sometimes count on tenants not knowing their rights, or sometimes they themselves don’t understand the law well enough. However, don’t just assume this will go away if you firmly refuse to pay the repair charge. The landlord may take you to court if they really want to pursue this. So you have to prepare yourself and talk to a lawyer or advocate. The other thing I would say is do not under any circumstance withhold the actual rent.

  18. KatieQ

    Hello,

    First of all, thanks for this website – hopefully some good will come from the research, and the help is much appreciated.

    I moved into my apartment in Astoria in April, one bedroom no roomates. My boyfriend (who does not live in the apartment) started getting bitten in May/June – and I brushed it off as mosquito bites, since I wasn’t being bitten.

    After months of this, I finally acquiesced in August and lifted up the mattress – spotting an infestation and seeing live bugs. I contacted the super, who sprayed. I cleaned all my clothes, rugs, sheets, curtains – everything! Still found bugs 4 days later. The landlord then sent an exterminator who sprayed and advised me to purchase the mattress cover – which I did. The exterminator came a second time two weeks later and sprayed again.

    Shortly after moving back into the apartment – my boyfriend stayed over and was bitten again. Writing it off to bad luck, we stayed in the apartment another night, spraying the bed frame down with Good Night bug spray.

    That was last night. This morning, I woke up with a live bedbug on my pillow.

    I’m not sure what course of action to take anymore – if I should inform the landlord and request a better exterminator, threaten to move out, request moving expenses and replacement of bedding?

    Please advise – I’m not sure what my next step should be.

    Thank you again, I am very much in your debt for advice.

  19. Renee Corea

    Hi Katie, I’m very sorry for what is happening.

    Two treatments are often not enough.

    Because your boyfriend is allergic to the bites, though you are not, you now know that the infestation is still present. This is lucky because otherwise you may not have seen the sometimes subtle signs or a live insect to indicate an ongoing problem. That is all that is happening here, the infestation is not yet eradicated. It doesn’t mean, or not yet at least, that you have failed.

    You need continued treatments until it is eradicated. Whether you need a “better” pest control company depends on what has been done by this one. You need to discuss this with the landlord (it’s in both your interests to get this resolved and you can work together; in fact, if you don’t, you may not succeed). One question is whether the adjoining apartments have been inspected? Infestations spread and it’s important to contain your infestation and also to ensure there is not another as yet unidentified infestation in the building. What happened after the second treatment, is there another treatment scheduled? Another question is whether you moved out during treatment? This is often problematic because bed bugs may remain hidden and only emerge to feed. If you are not there, they may stay hidden and never encounter the treatments that are meant to kill them. So if you’ve been away, the bugs may be only now coming out looking for you (bad) but meeting their deaths (good, provided that the pest control company did a thorough job with appropriate materials). You can’t stop after any number of treatments and say, done. You (meaning you, the landlord, and the pest control company) need to actually verify that the infestation has been eradicated, by inspecting thoroughly.

    Moving is not a solution in most cases. You don’t want to bring this infestation to your next apartment. If you do move, you should look for a fumigator (Vikane gas) for your belongings.

    Also, keeping the relationship productive with the landlord is critical for many people and may be critical for you. Your landlord is responsible for pest control in your building but this does not mean that he is at fault. Neither are you. Do not seek an adversarial relationship with your landlord because it will definitely prolong the resolution of this problem. Your next step is a discussion (with the landlord and with the pest control company) about how to solve this problem and what steps need to be taken. You can also evaluate with your landlord the feasibility of other treatment options, like thermal. The goal of this conversation is to solve a problem, so threats are not going to be useful. Your landlord has been responsive so far, so your best bet is to continue working on the problem together.

    You can eradicate bed bugs but you need to learn more about what a good treatment looks like, how bed bugs work and why they’re still around (for example, the eggs are protected and often inaccessible and when they hatch they allow the infestation to persist) and what steps to take to ensure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to — as much as any of this is within your control. Check the resources page and spend some time reading about bed bug protocols. You may want to start with this document (PDF) as it explains what a good pest control company may do (though protocols vary, you will see the importance of inspection and thoroughness).

  20. KatieQ

    Thank you so much Renee – the whole day I’ve just been flabbergasted at where to begin and now you’ve given me a course of action.

    Thanks again, and if anything your comments at least made me feel hope is not completely lost!

  21. Renee Corea

    You’re welcome, Katie. They don’t teach you how to be the bed bug project manager for your own infestation anywhere, do they? But it can be done! Best wishes…

  22. Scared me out of the city

    This, and the fare increase from the MTA were the final straws for me. My former residence at 202 east 7th nyc was infested, they were coming through the walls and even though we had the place exterminated they persisted. I was becoming a crazy rubbing alcohol lady, although I am not even sure that trick works.

    I get the allergy severely, I felt ill, weak, my foot got swollen and I was unable to work. I was also unwilling to show my legs during the only sunny days we had all summer because they were swollen and bitten, one month after I still have scars.

    I laundred all my clothing outside the apt, bagged in ziplocs, sprayed my boxes and got the hell out.

    Now my tax dollars are in another state. New York City needs to get it together, bebugs can pass diseases, since I was bit over 100 times I was advised to get a hepititis test. I also lost a significant amount of blood, its a matter of time before bedbugs start causing more serious health problems, the city needs to take action before a serious illness sprads.

  23. Renee Corea

    I’m sorry you had to move, Scared, and I hope you are now safe and sound in your new place. I am duty-bound to say, not in any attempt to minimize your distress but because often this is a comfort to many people, especially parents of young children, that there is no evidence for disease transmission yet. They don’t seem capable of transmitting diseases.

    I hope the bed bugs are well and truly behind for you.

  24. Lori

    Hey all,
    I had initially posted here to tell you that I have been very aggressive with my approach to my infestation-I have probably spent over $1500 on dry-cleaning, laundry, mattress and pillow protectors, rent a car to take my laundry to the laundromat, and also for my two cats to spend a couple of nights in boarding so they aren’t subjected to the chemicals.

    Suffice to say…I am still getting bitten, because my neighbors(who I know are paying HALF of the rent that I do) aren’t taking this seriously. I cannot move, because I am unemployed. This is just such a bad situation, without any recourse for me. I might as well just consider myself a fire victim and walk away with nothing, for all the City of NY cares about this scourge.At LEAST I wouldn’t have the scabs on my body that I currently have. I am serious! I look like I was on that reality show, SURVIVOR!.

  25. Abby

    My fiance and I were notified about a week and a half ago that 2 apartments in our building were confirmed with bed bugs and they had been treated, but as a precaution they were checking all apartments adjacent to the apartments affected, one of which is ours. While I am grateful that they notified us, we are now also a confirmed apartment with bed bugs. Fortunately there was only 1 found, but I assume where there is 1 there are probably others. The inspector that came then said he would set up another appointment with our building to exterminate next week. I feel a little uneasy waiting an entire week to have more bugs breed in my bedroom and also take the risk of being bit. Do I have any rights to insist they come sooner from our building? The landlord is taking steps to exterminate, but by the time they have come in will be almost a month of them knowing they could be here? Or can we stay in a hotel and have the building reimburse me?

  26. Renee Corea

    People negotiate with their building management the precise nature and scope of bed bug treatment all the time, so there’s no telling what you and your landlord may eventually agree to. However, if you are asking about what you can claim under the law, you need to consult a lawyer. Calling the Met Council hotline would be a good first step if you don’t have one.

    That said, please note that a week is not what anyone that I know would consider a significant delay. It takes many people that much time just to complete the preparation tasks usually required for treatment. Some pest control companies in NYC are so booked that they cannot make treatment appointments right away. Also, depending on the level of your infestation and the actions you take, you risk spreading bed bugs if you sleep elsewhere without precautions.

    Try not to move or throw anything out, ask for instructions to prepare, and concentrate on the treatment plan itself is what I would recommend. Bed bugs do not bite every day, so in a low-level infestation there may be a few days in between bites. If there are bed bugs in your apartment now, you are likely being bitten and may not be a reactor. I say this not to freak you out, but just so you can calmly take charge and concentrate on the important things.

    Finally, if it’s conventional treatment we’re talking about, it will be important for you to remain in your apartment, sleeping in your bed. Consult the pest control firm and remember that it may take more than one treatment (very often it does). Good luck, though. Sounds like your building is taking things seriously and doing the right thing by inspecting adjacent apartments.

  27. pamela r

    Hi Renee,
    Thank you for posting this informative website. There was a little information on private dwellings, but not much when compared to renters. My problem is this: I own a row house in brooklyn 2 doors down from my parents house. Sandwiched in between our homes is an ederly couple (in mid-90′s). About a year ago, my parents started having bed bug troubles….6 months later, we started having bed bug troubles. Both of us have had monthly extermination to eradicate the bugs…no luck…everyone suspected they were coming from our neighbor. Our exterminator went to their house, rang the bell and confirmed that our neighbor has an infestation – which he was trying to control by spraying vinegar. We have multiple conversations with our neighbor and his reaction is “what can you do?” He is uninterested in hiring an exterminator and we’ve already spent thousands of dollars trying to deal with these bed bugs….we can’t afford to keep up the monthly exterminators indefinitely! Have you heard of any cases where neighbors were forced to hire an exterminator? Do you think our case falls under the HPD laws? Any advice is greatly appreciated!

  28. Renee Corea

    Hi Pamela, I’m sorry, this sounds like a very difficult situation. I wish I could say I’ve heard of people in your situation who have resolved things but, sadly, no. Is educating the neighbors about better solutions a possibility? Can you give them some materials to read with some options? Some people are afraid of chemicals, and of course the expense. It’s not easy but there are some things that can be tried, if you haven’t already. Is there a family member who visits whom you can talk to? Just throwing out suggestions you may have examined already…

    I don’t really know about the processes to compel neighbors to abate nuisances, assuming this is one (well, obviously it is, to you, but is there a law… etc.) You should consult a lawyer about the available options. Certainly you have to try because the problem will not go away on its own. An interim step might be to consult your community board to see if they are in a position to help, or guide you to appropriate resources.

  29. pamela r

    thank you Renee. As suggested, I googled some of their family members and was able to send an e-mail to their granddaughter. Hopefully we can work together to combat this problem and it won’t be necessary to hire an attorney….all your suggestions were helpful. thanks again.

  30. JK

    Renee,

    We detected our bed bug problem early and took the initiative to hire an exterminator to treat our unit in a 3 story/3 unit building. Now we are arguing with the landlord about his reimbursing the cost of the treatment (and preparation materials). Do the same tips above apply when the treatment is already done but we believe we should be fairly compensated?

    Thanks.

  31. Renee Corea

    I’m not sure, JK, it seems to me that now that the condition is resolved it’s a matter of negotiation and therefore having a lawyer do it for you might be best — which would drive up the cost of the whole effort. Maybe you’ll end up splitting the cost with the landlord and agreeing to proactive vigilance in a “we’re in this together” sort of compromise? Remember that if you withhold any part of the rent you expose yourself to being sued. Therefore, you should get competent legal advice. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. I can say that HP Actions are to order landlords to exterminate and so it would have to be something else (i.e., the judge in an HP Action cannot order compensation). You’d need to ask a lawyer about other court options (housing court or otherwise) or for help in negotiating.

  32. Michal

    Hi–I live in a co-op and bed bugs have been found in a few apartments, but the building has hundreds of apartments, and no bugs were found in apartments adjacent to my own. The building is insisting we spray, but my husband has terrible asthma, as does my neighbor, and she went to the hospital with a severe attack when they sprayed her apartment. Is there anything I can do to prevent the building from spraying, or force management to use a greener method?

  33. Renee Corea

    You should ask for your apartment to be inspected and discuss with the property management and the pest manager an appropriate plan based on the findings. If there are no signs of bed bugs in your apartment, and no signs of bed bugs in the surrounding units (on all sides), although I am not a professional, my opinion is that perhaps you and the property manager and pest manager can agree to install bed bug detection monitors in your apartment and agree to periodic inspections of your apartment as needed. You can also involve your husband’s doctor’s opinion about what is and is not appropriate for him.

    There are many non-chemical ways to manage an infestation, if you actually had one, but costs can escalate depending on what is used. I think you should approach this by showing that you too are concerned about the spread of bed bugs in your building and willing to help stop it and this good faith can bring you all to the table to start talking about a course of action.

    You should consult a lawyer, especially if you intend to refuse access to your apartment.

  34. Michal

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response Renee. I am definitely going to implement your advice. I figured I can’t refuse access without being in violation of reasonable access for pest control, but I am going to try appealing either for monitoring or a green alternative.

    Thanks again,
    Michal

  35. Amanda

    I live in a condominium. The unit next to me had bedbugs this past summer. The unit directly above their unit was also infested. All four units (on the same side of the fire wall) were treated by an exterminator, paid for by the owner. A few months later my unit was infested and the original upstairs unit katy corner to me was again infested. We both hired an exterminator (at our own expense) to get rid of them. Now secretly the orginal unit renters told a friend they were infested again and the owner refuses to pay again. I only just found out today and want to know WHO is responsible to treat all four units so they we are all cleared of bugs. I do not have any signs yet but because it took a month last time for my apartment to show bugs I want to know who will be responsible. I want my condo bombed also. Do I have to wait, do I have any legal rights to force the owner of the infested condo to also bomb the other three units.

  36. Renee Corea

    I think you should discuss this problem with the board, Amanda. At this point, they should be involved to direct and coordinate everything that needs to be done. All the units surrounding the infested units need to be inspected — not just the units that complain of having an infestation. There could be a unit somewhere that hasn’t been inspected that is a factor in the reinfestation of your neighbors. It could also be the case that they are getting reinfested by repeated contact with a source outside the building that has not yet been identified (work, friends, family, travel, etc.) Or that their infestation has never cleared (not realizing this can happen if the residents are not allergic, for example). If you read the NYLJ article cited above (here again is a link to the PDF) you will see that the article explains that the owner is responsible if only one unit is infested. And then the article uses language such as “should” when discussing the responsibilities of the board. (That’s your cue to consult your own lawyer.) As far as the bed bugs and what it will take to get rid of them there, my view is you should get everyone involved and mobilized. This should be a simple conversation with the board and the neighbors — you’re all affected.

  37. Renee Corea

    I almost forgot: I think you are using the word bomb here in a way that I understand but technically, “bombing” any of these apartments would be the last thing you want done. No bug bombs, no foggers — nothing spreads bed bugs faster in a building.

  38. John

    My girlfriend and I literally moved into an apartment on the 1st and then 1 day later we found our first bed bug. We lived in midtown previously and no bed bug issue then moved to this location on la salle and we saw one crawling up the wall. The even worse part is we moved in and they didnt do any of the repairs they stated in an email sent to us. There is paint falling off the wall, the tub literally leaked over an inch onto the ground when we moved in, and then the bed bug issue. We contacted the super and he sent over the exterminator, but then the super decided to glaze the tub right after the bed bug guy sprayed….. 4 days later his glaze job still wasnt dry and we had to call the landlord to call a contractor in to reglaze the tub so we could actually shower after another 24 hours. its been 2 weeks and we have been living out of plastic bags and boxes since we moved in. WE told the landlord we cant do this situation, especiallybecause we have a cat and he cant keep walking in this toxic stuff all over the floor, and that we moved into a place infested with bed bugs with no previous knowledge plus none of the repair jobs or fixes were done as stated when we moved in. We asked if he could move us to another location… he found another place in one of his other apt buildings… we looked at it and liked it so we said we would move in. We then asked for compensation for the fact that we spent over $600 in dry cleaning right after we moved in (to get rid of his bedbugs) and for the fact that we would have to move again because of the bug issue which was $400 the first time we moved. He then responded that he thought it was better that we moved to an apt outside of his portfolio. We then apologized and said we were sorry if we were offensive in anywa, but we werent expecting this extra cost when we moved into his apartment, and now we had to move to this other location. He then responded “please move out of our apartment as soon as possible” We apologized again and said is there anything else we can do o get this new apartment…. seeing as we have nowhere to go at the end of the month. He responded again “Move out Asap.” Now I want to move just because i cannot deal with this management anymore, but what really ticks me off is what this guy put us through. I was in the middle of finals and I have my girlfriend calling me up in tears after this guy keeps telling us to leave his apartment before the end of the month. Can we sue this guy? I am still finishing up my architecture degree and i work full time. My girlfriend just finished her marketing degree and just started a new job so we have little to no money for attorneys…. We are trying to move out, but its getting rough trying to find a new place in our price range. We are also sitting here in box and plastic bag haven… and we had to ship our cat off to her aunts. Oh and also the super doesnt pick up our phone calls anymore…. please what can we do?

    thanks,

    John

  39. Renee Corea

    Sorry, John, I am not a lawyer and cannot advise you. You need to consult one. You can find legal resources that may be available here: http://lawhelp.org/NY/

    And you can contact a housing hotline at MetCouncil: http://www.metcouncil.net/contact.htm

    You should try to speak with knowledgeable people who can help you fight your eviction. You can contact your council member for help in finding help (from the street you mentioned your council member could be this one — if not you can go to the home page of the council site and enter your address to find the right one).

  40. Katie

    There is a lot of great advice on this website! I have a question that I cannot find the answer to. A few weeks ago I had a bed bug scare (another apartment on our floor had bed bugs). I found some bites on my face and arms and my husband reported to our managment company that we had bed bugs. Nothing was done for about a week and after searching our apartment top to bottom and not getting anymore bites, I decided they were probably mosquito bites, and that we didn’t need the exteminator. The management insisted on bringing in a dog to search the apartment (I thought, very responsible!). The dog search was negative, and I thought that was the end of it. Well, the I received a bill for $325 for “extermination.” Apparently the apartment above us was exterminated via “preventive protocol.” Is it my responsibility to pay this!? Thanks for your help!

  41. Renee Corea

    It is not the responsibility of tenants to pay for pest control services in rental apartments in NYC under most circumstances. It is the property owner’s responsibility. You would need to consult a lawyer or advocate who can evaluate your lease and other relevant details if you believe there is a misunderstanding. Simply discussing it with the management company would be a good idea, Katie. Sometimes people don’t know their tenant rights (I am assuming here that you are a tenant), and sometimes management companies forget their responsibilities. But sometimes there is additional information that is relevant.

  42. Ari

    Hi,

    So our apartment had bed bugs in April, and we informed our building’s management. They sent in the exterminator that the building has on retainer, and he did not seem at all competent in handling the problem. I spoke with two different exterminators before the actual extermination process, and they both told me that I would need to do a ton of prep work in advance, including laundering everything I own, and then they said that the actual extermination process would take between 4-6 hours to do a thorough job in a three bedroom apartment. The exterminator my building uses told me to “wash my sheets” and then he proceeded to spray some chemicals around the house for an hour.

    The bugs had seemed to be gone though, as we had a small problem and caught it early. But then, two weeks ago, one of the neighbors informed me that every tenant on our floor has bed bugs, as well as the tenants in the apartments above and below us. The building management never alerted us to this issue. We called the building management, who said that they would be exterminating all the apartments again. They had planned to do this last week, and never did. The contact person for the building management has been rude to our neighbors regarding their inquiries, and does not even respond to my phone calls. And now my apartment has the bed bugs too.

    I would like to break my lease and move out. But first, I want the building to hire a competent exterminator to deal with this issue, so that I can feel comfortable taking the few belongings that I want to keep to my new home. How should i deal with my building management regarding my requests when they won’t respond to me? Thank you for your input!

  43. Renee Corea

    Sorry for the late reply.

    You should call 311 to make a formal complaint against an unresponding landlord with HPD. HPD will send an inspector and can issue violations and order the landlord to consider the adjacent apartments.

    As for how best to deal with an unresponding landlord aside from calling HPD: always politely and always in writing (follow up in writing any conversations on the phone or in person). Building this paper trail is important.

    Good luck.

  44. Jna

    Hi there,

    we have a bed bug infestation. The first incident was in August. Our landlord did indeed send an exterminator but he only came once and said unless we see them again we shouldn’t call them. Obviously one treatment is never enough. Now over a couple weeks ago we have a severe infestation and the entire block has been having mattresses out on the street etc. PLUS the exterminator came in the meantime again and claimed he would come for the next couple of Saturdays, however, when we called him to confirm the appointment he said he probably wont make because he also has other clients and he might make it again in a month or so. I mean, we can SEE the bugs. We obviously have them. When we notified our landlord he said he would arrange for another exterminator,however, this has been going on way too long and our lease is only another 3 months and we already lost way too much money on needing to throw away furniture, etc. I am thinking to just stop paying rent? We asked if we can be released early from our rental contract but we are not receiving a response about this. Is just moving out and stop paying rent the best at this point? I am not sleeping there anymore with my dog because he was vomiting (presumably from the chemicals). Also, my nanny roommate got fired from her job because she brought bed bugs to work and couldn’t provide the mother with the name of the chemicals because the exterminator would not tell us until weeks later after complaining to the landlord about it.

  45. Pingback: law webs » bed bug law uk who pays

  46. nich

    I really resent that fact that everyone blames landlords and management companies, I own a 6 family unit, and I have told my tenants that I will pay for the sprays and chemicals allowed to decrease and rid the infestation for the first and second time, but after that, I feel that a little responsibility should come from the tenants themselves. The laws favor tenants and that leaves some of us good owners powerless against tenants that don’t give a damn about the cost to us. It is very typical of the self centered entitlement clause. People want everything given to them for free, when the cable is out they call the owner, when the power fails they don’t lodge complaints about con edison, when the water pressure is low they don’t call 311 and tell the people on the street to close the fire hydrant, so now people are carrying bed bugs from place to place and they want someone else to pay for it.
    NO body cares about us, I give my tenants plastic bags, I spray, if they tell me that they will not be home for the weekend I am willing to go in and spray and smoke the place, but people find that an invasion of their privacy. People want the bed bugs and money for living with the bed bugs, people do not really want to solve the problem- but hey is that not the new America- yell at me all you want, I will just hit delete- I know in my heart I am right

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