Are you struggling with mice in your NYC apartment? Well, many New Yorkers are renters, and dealing with mice in apartments is a very common occurrence.
According to New York state laws, landlords are responsible for providing their tenants with a safe and habitable space. This means that landlords are responsible for things like pest control which keep apartments habitable. This law hasn’t stopped some landlords from trying to evade their responsibilities.
Yes, you can sue your landlord for a mice infestation in New York. Landlords have a legal responsibility to provide you with a pest-free apartment according to New York laws. If you have informed your landlord repeatedly over a reasonable amount of time and they do not take action, you can sue them. Simply reserve a copy of every notice sent as proof. This case will go to the housing court and your landlord will be served to appear before the judge at a specified date.
How to sue my landlord for mice infestations in NY
You can sue your landlord for mice infestations. However, there are steps you have to take as a tenant before you can do so. If you have a mice infestation in your apartment, you are advised to first inform the super, apartment manager, and landlord. If after regular complaints to the landlord there is no intervention to get rid of the mice, then you can follow the steps below;
1. Make a pest complaint with the HPD
The HPD, fully known as the department of housing preservation and development, is an agency charged with the maintenance and preservation of houses in New York. You will need to file an official complaint with the HPD. The complaint form requires your address, apartment number, and other information.
2. After submitting the complaint
The HPD will investigate the complaint and determine who is at fault. The HPD may have to inspect the apartment and the building during their investigation process. This inspection is usually done without informing the landlord or apartment manager to prevent any cover-up.
3. Informing the landlord
The HPD will also attempt to contact the apartment manager or the landlord to inform them of the complaint and the possibility of a violation on their part. This is to allow the landlords to pick up their slack and do the necessary to prevent a violation strike.
4. Final check back
The HPD will then check back with you to see whether or not the landlord has taken initiative and corrected the issue. If they have the complaint will be closed. If the landlord has still not taken up the pest control for the mice infestation, the tenant is now within their right to sue the landlord.
5. Suing the landlord
Finally, if after all this the landlord has still not corrected the issue then you can sue your landlord in New York. simply get a copy of all your interactions with the landlord and the HPD, a picture or inspection report proving the mice infestation to be presented in housing court.
Is the landlord responsible for mice in NY?
According to new york state laws, landlords are responsible for providing their tenants with a pest-free place. This places certain pest control responsibilities on the landlords. Here are the responsibilities of landlords in New York;
1. Annual inspections
Landlords are required to do a minimum of one inspection annually regardless of pest infestation or not. These inspections are to check for any allergens, mold, hazards, and most importantly pests e.g. mice, etc. these inspections should be carried out by a professional and should be paid for by the landlords.
2. Timely response
Landlords are required to provide timely responses to any complaint submitted by tenants and the department of housing preservation and development. Timely responses allow all parties to communicate better and get the work done.
If landlords do not provide timely responses to the above complaints, it can be interpreted as negligence and the landlord will be liable for civil action.
3. Prepare units
Landlords are responsible for preparing all units for incoming tenants. This includes mold and pest inspections, painting the walls, sealing a potential pest entry and hiding spots, etc.
4. Provide a signed copy of the lease
Landlords are required to provide their tenants with a signed written copy of the lease which complies with New York rental laws. The landlord is also required to provide the tenants with a copy of the Local Law 55 fact sheet and a notice that states the landlord’s duty to keep the apartment pest-free.
This is to make sure that the tenant is well informed on their rights by the landlord while moving in.
5. Implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Integrated pest management is a comprehensive pest control approach recommended by New York to all landlords. The approach aims to provide landlords with the best ways to completely get rid of pests while doing minimal damage to the property.
After notifying your landlord of a mice infestation, they are required to respond within a reasonable period. This reasonable period can be interpreted differently but on average it is taken to be thirty (30) days. This means that the landlord has thirty (30) days to respond to a notice from a tenant or the department of housing preservation and development.
After the thirty (30) day period and the tenant or HPD has received no response from the landlord, they are now able to take further action. The tenant can then file a complaint with the HPD and follow due process. When the HPD informs the landlord of the complaint and receives no response in thirty days, the tenant is now able to sue the landlord or withhold rent until the issue is addressed.
When the tenant has gone through all the required steps such as sending a regular notice multiple times to the landlord and filing a complaint with the department of housing preservation and management (HPD), the HPD informs the landlord, etc. if the landlord has still not taken up the issue and implemented the required pest control, the tenant is legally allowed to break the lease.
This is because, in the lease, the landlord is required to provide a safe and habitable place for the tenant but has failed to do so. Mice infestations pose a health risk to the tenant and if the landlord does not address the issue, they have failed to provide a safe and habitable place for that tenant. The lease has therefore been violated by the landlord first and the tenant is within their rights to break it. Tenants should preserve every notice sent to the landlord as proof that the landlord was indeed aware of the situation.
There is no outright number that denotes a mouse infestation. However, mice are very fast breeders and can begin reproducing at 6 to 8 weeks of age and their pregnancy only lasts for 19-20 days with 6 to 8 babies born at once.
This means that just two sexually mature male and female mice cause a mice infestation within weeks if they begin breeding. This is why it is very important to get rid of mice at the early stages of infestation. This prevents the mice from breeding in the house and reduces the chances of an infestation.