The short answer if YES.
Legal Rights of Tenants in a New York Infested Apartment
Generally speaking, owners of premises have a duty to maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition as well as a duty to warn of any unsafe conditions. Insect or other pest-related infestation is by and large considered “unsafe,” being both unsanitary and potentially harmful.
Premises liability claims typically focus on a negligence theory; that is, by allowing the condition to exist or failing to warn of the associated danger, owners of the premises at issue have failed to meet the standard created by the duty of care that they owe to their tenants. A claimant can recover on this theory when an owner’s breach of its duty leads to some injury on the claimant’s part – whether it is to their person or to their property. In addition, if there is a pre-existing history of bed bugs in the apartment building where you are residing, New York City law requires that the landlord disclose this history to a prospective tenant. Furthermore, under New York Law, it is the landlord’s responsibility to remediate the bed bug condition.
Recent cases indicate that to the extent that claimants can demonstrate actual losses related to infestation, they will be awarded compensatory damages. Recovery may also be sought for the costs for physical harm caused by the bites, scarring, mental distress, and loss of consortium for married couples, as well as replacing personal property that was damaged or needed to be disposed of as a result of the bed bug infestation.
Under the laws of most states, punitive damages are a mechanism by which to address the willful and wanton misconduct of a person or entity. In essence, they comprise some appreciable amount beyond that needed to address a claimant’s actual losses (which are covered by compensatory damages) as a measure of punishment for the defendant’s outrageous conduct and a means of deterring such activity in the future.
Documenting the problem and any resulting loss is of critical importance for evidentiary purposes. Should a claimant’s case be strong enough to warrant recovery, a New York Court will require sufficient proof of the extent of the damage suffered in order to aid in the determination of what should be awarded. Collecting bugs and photographing their presence on furniture or personal possessions as well as evidence of bite marks is ideal. Notifying the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (“HPD”) is also key because a finding of bed bugs by HPD can only help your claim.
B. Breach of the Implied Warranty of Habitability
Similar to the duty associated with a negligence-based theory, there is another legal doctrine that focuses on a property owner’s responsibility to maintain its property in a certain condition: the implied warranty of habitability. The basic premise behind the doctrine is that a landlord warrants that the dwelling at issue is fit for its intended purpose – that is, it sets a minimum standard by requiring that the areas in which its tenants will live are suitable for human inhabitance. Depending on conditions, the presence of bed bugs may diminish the habitability of a dwelling or render it altogether uninhabitable.
Why Work With The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C.?
At The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C., we have been helping victims and people who have been affected by bed bugs, and we are dedicated to fighting for the compensation you deserve. Bed bugs are a serious issue, and our experience and commitment make us the trusted source for legal help relating to bed bugs in hotels.
Contact a New York bed bug attorney at The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. to discuss your case. The New York Bed Bug Attorneys at The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. offer free initial consultations to discuss your rights. You can contact us at 646-504-7384 or via email to learn more about your rights so that we can obtain the best outcome for you.