If you’re a NYC renter or co-op owner coping with mold, bed bugs, lead paint or leaks, we urge you to check out a recent New York Law Journal column by a pair of top real estate lawyers. They provide a handy summary of the latest courtroom thinking on the responsibilities of landlords and co-op boards to smite what ails you.
Attorneys Richard Siegler and Eva Talel note, for instance, that even a good-faith effort by a co-op board to fix a leak may not be a good-enough effort to satisfy a judge.
Turning to bed bugs, Siegler and Talel provide this handy rundown on the current state of NYC bed bug law:
- “The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) may now require landlords to establish a ‘pest management plan,’ including posting in building entrances instructions to tenants, occupants and guests for reporting bedbugs. Plans must include pest-management strategies for the premises, an inspection schedule and a log of visits by pest-management professionals.”
- The “DOH maintains a website detailing recommended protocols/guidelines for landlords , including requiring the use of licensed exterminators, inspecting and treating units adjacent to an infested unit and keeping records of all treatments.”
- “As of August 2010, NYC requires landlords to provide prospective vacancy tenants with a one-year bedbug-infestation history of the leased premises and the building.”
- “In a 2010 rental-apartment decision, the court credited the landlord with timely extermination efforts, [yet still] awarded tenants a 50 percent abatement and, for breach of the lease, a refund of their security deposit and a property-damage award.”
- “Recent cases strongly suggest that courts will hold co-op boards responsible for remediating bedbug infestations and, under the Multiple Dwelling Law, for related property damage.”
- “While it may be that a landlord is not liable if evidence establishes that the infestation was caused by the tenant, given that we now know that the incubation period of bedbugs can be well over a year, the likelihood of a board prevailing on such a defense is questionable. Co-op boards should therefore react promptly and diligently to investigate, and remediate where appropriate, reports of any bedbug infestation.”