A case from Chicago
The condominium association for the building at 5415 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago, is suing resident Sandra L. Gold for failure to cooperate with efforts to get rid of her unit’s bed bugs.
Park Tower Condominium Association, Inc., claims Ms. Gold’s condo “is infested with more than 500 bed bugs,” according to Chicago Real Estate Daily:
Ms. Gold has “failed and refused” to cooperate with efforts to exterminate the bugs, creating a broader pest problem throughout the building and obstructing the health and safety of other residents, the condo board alleges in a complaint filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court.
The association argues that Ms. Gold would not take the “necessary” steps to exterminate her bedbug problem: exposing all baseboards, stripping mattresses of box springs and linens, and emptying all closets, dressers and drawers.
Ms. Gold declined to comment, referring an inquiry to her lawyer, Ralph Schindler. Mr. Schindler said Ms. Gold has just returned home from a month in a nursing home while recovering from an injury.
“This is something we hopefully can resolve without doing much in court,” Mr. Schindler said.
In a condominium or cooperative building, as in any multi-unit building, eliminating bed bugs can be a tricky matter: everyone must be on board and cooperate with treatment and prevention strategies.
Some resources for New York City
These issues come up everywhere, and we’ve heard many stories in New York City in particular about people dealing with bed bugs in condos and coops. I am posting some resources below which may be of interest to readers from New York (and possibly elsewhere).
Note: I’d also like to post resources for Chicago and other areas; If you know of any specifically on bed bugs in condos and coops, please leave a comment below or send me an email. Thanks!
Keep in mind I am not a lawyer and none of this constitutes legal advice. Information or advice in the articles linked to, as always, may be incorrect or outdated.
Habitat Magazine (a magazine for New York City coop and condo board members and property managers) has lots of useful resources on bed bugs in these types of properties, including the following:
Bed Bugs (2009: Advice in the “Mr. Manager” column on how to deal with bed bugs in a condo or coop building.)
Bed bugs and boards (2006: There are a few interesting paragraphs about Warranty of Habitability as applied to coops.) Elizabeth Jensen writes on Habitat:
There’s legal controversy over whether boards should notify all owners, says Timothy Wenk, a lawyer at Shafer Glazer who specializes in bedbug litigation. “There is a stigma attached to bedbug infestation, even though it is not related to cleanliness,” he notes. Nonetheless, he advises clients to notify other apartment owners when an infestation is found. “These little beasts are known to travel apartment to apartment,” he says, and failing to warn neighbors to be on the lookout could lead to lawsuits over the damages and unnecessary hardship caused if the bugs do spread.
Wenk believes the implied warranty of habitability under Real Property Law, Section 235-b, gives co-op boards, but not condos, “a duty to eradicate the bedbug infestation” in the same way a landlord must. As such, he says, co-ops are probably responsible for the extermination costs and also have a duty to evict an owner who doesn’t “follow instructions and coordinate with efforts to eradicate the bugs.”
Finally, a Habitat feature from 2009 about how one large NYC coop dealt with bed bugs, legally, treatment-wise, etc.