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Can you break a lease over bed bugs in NYC?

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  1. ale5045

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Jan 12 2014 22:30:29
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  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jan 13 2014 1:06:05
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    Call Met Council on Housing's hotline for the best advice (outside of a lawyer) on NYC rental laws and what you can and should do.

    http://metcouncilonhousing.org/tenants_rights_telephone_hotline

    They're very good.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. ale5045

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jan 13 2014 9:48:08
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    Hi everyone! So about a month and a half ago my boyfriend and I noticed a bug (clear and small) crawling on our couch. We've had trouble with roaches and pigeon ticks in the past so we really didn't think much about it. Then a few days later I found another one. A few days before the holidays we noticed out landlord had put a powdery substance outside our apartment door in addition to double stick tape. We thought perhaps roaches had come back and he was taking preventative measures. So we went home for the holidays and noticed two small bugs (now dark) in our suitcases and clothing. We still thought they were baby roaches so we called our super to see when the exterminator was coming back and he called us to say that our neighbor across the hall (who is a bona-fied HOARDER) had bed bugs and he would have the exterminator come to look at our apt after the holidays. The day after Christmas we went back to our apt and immediately put a cover over our mattress and box springs and wrapped everyone in our closet with plastic and packed up everything in our living room, but then we had to leave town again so it was about a week until we got word from our super saying the exterminator came and "sprayed" but that they didn't see anything. We were hoping that perhaps they were just sneaking in from our neighbors and that they weren't really infested but on jan 5 we found another one on our couch and caught it with tape to show our super and he confirmed that they were bed bugs and he would talk to the exterminator (up until this point we hadn't gotten bitten, probably Bc we were out of town). The next day my bf woke up with bites up and down his arm which we thought came from the couch Bc I still didn't have any bites and he was sitting on the couch the day before. He threw away the couch, baged the rest of our furniture and notified our super.

    Ok, so bare with me... This is about five weeks after the initial spotting and about 4weeks after we noticed the white powder in front of our building and two weeks since we were told there wee bed bugs in our neighbors. we spoke to our super on Sunday and on Wednesday there was a letter (on my counter which means someone entered our apartment with letting me know) saying that there were "cases of bed bugs in the building and although they had contained it to the few apartment they were going to exterminator the entire building" which is utter bull since no one even bothered to check my apartment until I hassled them and they are CLEARLY spreading. They had a DIFFERENT exterminator come on Thursday to check our apt (still couldn't find anything) but they aren't spraying until Monday.

    We thought maybe we were in the clear and they were just on our couch (which we tossed) but this evening we found another baby in our bed room coat rack and more bites on my boyfriends arm (I still don't have any).

    So here's my question... We are so fed up with how our management company handled this! Shouldn't we have been notified as soon as bed bugs were found in other apartments? Why wasn't the entire building notified until almost 5 weeks after they were first reported ? And since we live next to a hoarder which they apparently "can not evict" (says the super) isn't it reasonable to assume that this problem will never be totally exterminated? Would this be grounds to break our lease and get out before I have a mental breakdown? (It's one thing after another in this apartment building!!!) if anyone had any advice about anything I would really appreciate it!! Thanks!

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jan 13 2014 11:26:39
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    Please see my post ABOVE yours about calling Met Council's hotline about the lease. They know your rights in and out and can tell you how to proceed.

    They're in on Mon. afternoons!

    My understanding is NYC's disclosure laws apply to when you sign a new lease but that landlords don't have to notify everyone when someone has bed bugs. That's because bed bugs don't always spread too widely and can often be contained. Attached units are most at risk.

    Again, Met Council can provide you with the details on your rights and whether breaking a lease is an option.

    "Can't evict the hoarder" is likely not the whole story -- there are things the city and/or landlord can do in such cases, though this is likely not limited to eviction-- and I bet Met Council will have suggestions there too, if someone's lifestyle is causing problems for other tenants.

    Also-- please see your email. Thanks!

  5. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jan 13 2014 11:39:35
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    That's good advise from NBs !

    Keep us posted on the developments and it may also be wise to keep a journal.

    pjb

  6. ale5045

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jan 13 2014 12:16:08
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    Thank you! are apartments are connected to the "hoarder" with just a wall separating us so i think it is safe to assume they came from him. Especially since the initial outbreak was just in his apartment and two above his until they made the leap over to our apartment.

    We also called the management company today and they said that now almost every apartment in the building has reported bed bugs and they had to call a different exterminator because they didn't believe the first one did the job properly.

    If i knew where they were nesting I think I would feel a lot better, but we've taken apart/ wrapped everything and we can't find any casings or fecal spots and nothing on our sheets!

    Fingers crossed the exterminator finds the root of the issue today! I will definitely give them a call.

  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Jan 13 2014 13:27:49
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    ale5045 - 1 hour ago  » 

    We also called the management company today and they said that now almost every apartment in the building has reported bed bugs and they had to call a different exterminator because they didn't believe the first one did the job properly.

    That sounds very promising-- admitting the problem isn't solved and calling someone else. You're in a good position from what it sounds like. Many NYC landlords address only the complaining unit.

    I would talk to Met Council about the hoarder issue because they may have suggestions for how tenants can document how the issue is affecting them. Or there may be someone the landlord can call. If someone has a hoarding issue which is causing hygiene and pest problems, they may need assistance from social services, for their own sake as well as everyone else's.

  8. Chipp

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Jan 14 2014 11:30:41
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    I can't speak for NYC laws but in NJ, to justify breaking a lease, you must be able to prove that the property is uninhabitable. It is certainly possible that your situation qualifies for this. You have notified the landlord and given them reasonable time to respond. Unfortunately, the final determination won't be made until the lease is broken and the landlord takes you to court. There is a good chance that the ruling will be in your favor but there is always the risk that it could go the other way.

    Again, this is only the case in New Jersey. I can't speak for NYC.

    Another option would be to sit down with your landlord and ask them if they will let you out of the lease early. I've let tenants out of their leases in the past for various reasons (financial, job relocation, etc.).

  9. Chipp

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Jan 14 2014 11:32:15
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    Please keep us updated with your progress. I know you have your hands full but I am very curious to see how this turns out. I hope things get better for you soon.

  10. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Jan 14 2014 11:46:19
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    Hi,

    One vital piece of information here which is likley to weigh in your advantage is that the landlords PCO's seem to be happy to inspect, find nothing and still treat.

    They key issues I have with this is:

    • If they cant find anything then its either a very light case or they are not good at finding bedbugs.
    • If they don't find anything and are still prepared to treat then they are missing the golden rule which is identify and confirm first and then work out how to treat it.
    • If its the same PCO as is dealing with the hoarders unit then they may not have enough experience of dealing with this sort of infestation as evident by the spread and the lack of anticipation of spread.

    More importantly they are all issues that the landlord can't take personally which avoid any issues of one side versus the other.

    Dealing with cases in hoarding properties is quite an art form to put it mildly if you want to avoid a spread all over the building.

    Hope that helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

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  11. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Jan 14 2014 12:55:56
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    David,
    Those are definitely issues with the first PCO but the OP tells us that PCO is being replaced. Sounds like a step in the right direction as I noted above.

  12. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Jan 14 2014 13:23:10
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    Hi,

    Yes I had noted that but the second one seems to be doing the same strategy of treating without visual confirmation.

    In the same way that we all accept that this is not acceptable with K9 alerts it should also not be acceptable with bedbugs.

    I realise my approach and methods may be a little more advanced than average but I can assure you people are generally rather happy if you turn up, look at the single bedbug they have found, look for evidence and upon failing to find anything to confirm an active infestation but they into a less invasive and aggressive treatment program.

    After all you will not find many physicians who are willing amputate a leg without at least first exhausting all other viable options to resolve an in growing toe nail.

    Although the lease laws are very different in the UK from personal experience I don't meet many landlords who will fight tooth and nail when its clear they made the errors in the first place although thankfully our laws on responsibility for infestations are a lot clearer to begin with.

    David

  13. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Jan 14 2014 13:35:33
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    bed-bugscouk - 11 minutes ago  » 
    Hi,
    Yes I had noted that but the second one seems to be doing the same strategy of treating without visual confirmation.

    Sorry, I had missed that.

    Hopefully not. They definitely need to visually confirm before treating and I think all the experts here would agree on this.


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