Steven Troup in Board Operations on February 20, 2014
There are courts, however, that have been willing to place the financial responsibility on the condo association when the problem involves common areas and/or building-wide maintenance issues. For example, in 1997, the court in Pershad v. Parkchester South Condominium held that the repair of water leaks because of faulty drainage pipes was the responsibility of the association, not the individual condo owner.
No reported cases have directly dealt with bedbug infestations in condominiums, but the situation would arise under a similar claim that the condo association has neglected its duty to keep the dwelling in good repair under the New York City Administrative Code (ADC) Sections 27-2005 and 27-2018.
Law, Schmaw. Get Rid of the Bedbugs Already
Usually, condo boards will want to rid their buildings of bedbugs as soon as possible. Most associations do not want word of the problem getting out to prospective purchasers, nor do they want to lower morale among those already living in the building. A consistent extermination plan can rid the property of unwanted pests before any damage is done and should be pursued as soon as possible.
Reading the bylaws can help determine who should be responsible for eradication. Most importantly, if an occupant discovers bedbugs, he or she should try to determine immediately whether the problem is building-wide and put the management on notice.
New York City officials have already taken major steps to prevent another scourge of bedbugs. The City Council in 2012 enacted a Notice of Bedbug Infestation History law (ADC 27–2018.1) that requires landlords, including those who run a cooperative building, to inform tenants of the bedbug history for the past year. For general complaints, the City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene provides a step-by-step bedbug enforcement protocol on its website at its page Information for Landlords & Building Managers.
With government officials taking the problem seriously, the most important thing is that residents, owners and building managers work together to ensure that bedbugs do not spread past the point of easy extermination.
Attorney Steven Troup is a partner at Tarter Krinsky & Drogin.
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