Landlord v. Tenant: Latest Bedbug Rulings
Landlord Must Pay Tenant $3,900 for Bedbug Infestation Damage
Mitchell-Lama co-op tenant sued landlord cooperative corporation, seeking reimbursement after she hired an exterminator to rid her apartment of bedbugs. Tenant claimed that landlord was responsible for her loss of personal property. Among other things, tenant's exterminator covered holes in the apartment and sprayed. But the bedbugs kept returning, and tenant claimed that this was due to infestation in other apartments. Relying on a letter it received from HPD, landlord argued that individual tenant shareholders each were responsible for clearing bedbugs from their apartments.
The court ruled for tenant and ordered landlord to pay $3,900 for the loss of tenant's property. Multiple Dwelling Law Section 78(1) made co-op buildings responsible for keeping the building in good repair. Landlord breached its duty of care. It was on notice of the bedbug infestation and took no steps to remedy the condition.
- Zayas v. Franklin Plaza: NYLJ, 4/13/09, p. 18, col. 3 (Civ. Ct. NY; Singh, J)
Tenants Get 12 Percent Rent Abatement for Bedbugs
Landlord sued to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent. Tenants claimed a breach of the warranty of habitability. They said that their apartment had been infested with bedbugs for three years. The court ruled for tenants in part. Tenants had complained to HPD, but HPD made no finding of bedbugs and placed no violations on the building. Landlord made an exterminator available. Tenants claimed that he was ineffective, but didn't hire their own exterminator.
The court found tenants' claim about the extent of the bedbug problem not credible. Still, there was some proof of a bedbug problem. The court gave tenants a 12 percent rent abatement, totaling $2,941, for the period from September 2005 through December 2006. This amount was deducted from the $5,665 still owed to landlord at the end of the trial.
- Bender v. Green: NYLJ, 3/25/09, p. 27, col. 1 (Civ. Ct. NY; Kraus, J)
Tenant Gets 50 Percent Rent Abatement for Bedbug Infestation
Landlord sued to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent. Tenant claimed a breach of the warranty of habitability. She said that she complained to landlord in January 2007 of a bedbug infestation. Landlord tried to remedy the problem, but the bedbugs kept returning every few weeks. Tenant said that her children suffered countless bites and rashes, they couldn't sleep in their beds, and they couldn't have family or friends visit them in the apartment.
The court ruled for tenant and gave her a 50 percent rent abatement for a 22-month period and ordered landlord to rid the apartment of bedbugs.
- Assoc. v. CW: NYLJ, 6/25/09, p. 28, col. 1 (Civ. Ct. Bronx; Madhavan, J)
Bedbugs Found in Tenant's Apartment
Nassau County tenant complained to the DHCR of a reduction in services. Tenant claimed that there were bedbugs in her apartment. The DRA ruled for tenant and reduced her rent. Landlord appealed. Landlord claimed that the municipal department of health and the department of buildings had dismissed similar complaints from tenant. Tenant also was suing landlord in court over the bedbugs. But landlord submitted no proof of these claims. Landlord's exterminator submitted a letter claiming that there were no bedbugs, but the DHCR's inspector found them in the bedrooms and living room of tenant's apartment.
- 9 St. Paul's Rd.: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. WG710045RO (2/5/09)
Tenant Gets 40 Percent Rent Abatement for Bedbugs
Landlord sued to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent. Landlord claimed that tenant owed $1,200 per month for the months of July through October, plus $658 for June. Tenant claimed a breach of the warranty of habitability. She said that there were problems with bedbugs from the time she moved into the apartment. Tenant admitted that landlord had exterminated twice, but that the problem continued. Because of the bedbugs, tenant said that she slept at either her mother's or her boyfriend's homes, and that she kept whatever clothes or personal possessions she hadn't thrown out at these locations.
The court ruled for tenant. Her testimony was believable, and management's efforts to relieve the problem weren't sufficient. The court gave tenant a rent abatement of $2,183 and gave landlord a judgment for $3,275.
- Grand Review LLC v. Moore: NYLJ, 11/19/08, p. 27, col. 1 (Civ. Ct. Queens; Badillo, J)
Landlord Not Responsible for Bedbugs
(Decision submitted by Karen Schwartz-Sidrane of the Hewlett law firm of Sidrane & Schwartz-Sidrane, LLP, attorneys for the landlord.)
Tenant complained of a reduction in services based on a bedbug infestation. The DRA ruled for tenant, finding inadequate extermination service. Landlord appealed, arguing that monthly extermination service was provided to the apartment to combat the bedbug condition and landlord shouldn't be responsible for tenant's failure to maintain a clean apartment.
The DHCR ruled for landlord and revoked the rent reduction. Tenant had complained that there were bedbugs in the kitchen, bathroom hamper, bedroom, beds, and a chair, and behind a living room table. Landlord had exterminated three times within the month before receiving tenant's complaint.
The DHCR's inspector found evidence of bedbug infestation in a mattress and dead bedbugs in the bedroom. The DHCR inspector didn't find any proof of bedbug infestation in the walls, floors, cabinets, closets, and apartment entrance. The presence of dead bedbugs by the inspector suggested that landlord's extermination service was effective. It was an error for the DRA to hold landlord responsible for the bedbug problem that existed solely in tenant's personal household property.
- 91-32/34 195th St. LLC: DHCR Adm. Rev. Docket No. WD110043RO (6/26/08)
45 Percent Rent Abatement Awarded for Bedbug Infestation
Landlord sued to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent. Tenant owed $6,550. Tenant claimed a breach of the warranty of habitability based on a bedbug infestation. In June 2003, tenant noticed hundreds of bite marks on his body. Later that month, he saw a posted notice from landlord announcing an August extermination service for bedbugs. Tenant claimed that during the next six months, the condition continued. He was forced to sleep on a metal cot, and dispose of clothing, a couch, and other furnishings. He also had to decontaminate himself before visiting his family's home at Christmas.
The court ruled for tenant and granted him a $3,600 rent abatement, equal to 45 percent of tenant's rent for a six-month period. Despite landlord's efforts of providing repeated exterminator visits, the bedbugs remained and created an intolerable condition. The infestation affected tenant's health, safety, welfare, and use of the apartment.
- Ludlow Properties LLC v. Young: NYLJ, 6/21/04, p. 18, col. 1 (Civ. Ct. NY; Bedford, J)