Can I be charged for spreading cockroaches?

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Can I be charged for spreading cockroaches?

I rented a place and signed a lease. At 10:30 pm I returned to the location to change all of the locks to make sure the place was secure. When I arrived and turned the lights on there were cockroaches everywhere. I called the rental company at 11 am the next day and explained the situation. I received a phone call and they agreed to return the security deposit but they refuse to return the first months rent. I’m taking a jar of these bugs inside the office to show and if I don’t get the money returned I’m going to release them in the office. What can I be charged with?

Asked on September 28, 2011 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) Possibly, you could be charged with some form of assault--assault is a "big tent" kind of offense, and almost any threat or unwanted contract, direct or indirect, could fall under its rubric.

2) You may be violating some health or housing laws.

3) If as a result of releasing the cockroaches, the building now needs to exterminate and/or clean in other areas (such as their management office), you could be sued for the cost of that additional extermination.

4) And making a threat to get money could possible be extortion, too.

In short, this is not a good idea. If you think you are owed money, sue the building in small claims court. Don't bring the roaches, but take some pictures of them as evidence. Good luck.


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