Legal Question in Real Estate Law in New York

My upstairs neighbor hoardes garbage and there are so many flies, like, a TON of flies outside and every time i open the door to my apartment many get in so now I have flies all over my apartment. It makes eating a pain, and I am very worried about getting sick because of all these garbage born flies. Does the landlord have any responsibility to take care of this problem?

Asked on 5/27/13, 7:36 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Daniel Scott Daniel U. Scott, Esq.

The flies are making your apartment unfit or uninhabitable, so the landlord must take steps to remedy the pest problem. Contact your landlord about the problem with the neighbor. If there are a high volume of flies, then you may use a legal procedure called "repair and deduct." In most states that have this law, and in NYC, it works like this: If the landlord has failed to fix a truly significant problem, you may, without permission and without filing a lawsuit, have defects or other problems repaired and subtract the cost of the repairs from the next month's rent.

But to be justified in using the repair-and-deduct remedy, the problem must be serious, not just annoying, and it must threaten your health or safety. The occasional bug doesn't justify using repair and deduct. But an ongoing infestation of insects or rodents is serious, since it presents a potential health hazard.

Before hiring an exterminator, you must give the landlord notice of the problem and provide access to your apartment. Put your complaint in writing and tell the landlord that if the problem is not addressed within a reasonable period of time -- ten days or so -- you will arrange to have the work performed and will deduct the cost from your next month's rent. Make sure to get dated receipts from contractors for any work performed so you can substantiate your rent deduction.

Alternatively, you may file a complaint with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development or your local Health Department if you are outside NYC. That will trigger an inspection of your unit. If the inspector finds that your apartment is infested, they will issue a violation ordering the landlord to correct the condition within a specific time -- usually 30 days or so, depending on the problem. If the landlord does not correct the problem within the time provided, they fine the landlord.

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Answered on 5/27/13, 7:48 pm

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