What recourse do I have for a landlord who was cited for bedbugs prior to my moving in but who refused to have my unit exterminator?

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What recourse do I have for a landlord who was cited for bedbugs prior to my moving in but who refused to have my unit exterminator?

There is documentation that the landlord was informed of the potential infestation 7 days prior to my expected move in date. Upon filing a complaint with the Building Code department I was told that the landlord had been cited and instructed to have three units on my floor inpected and treated. The landlord treated only my neighbors apartment and per the report from the exterminator, the landlord refused to have my apartment treated although he was advised to. The unit received its first treatment yesterday. I am seeking a rent abatement for the time the apt was uninhabitable.

Asked on May 3, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You may be entitled to a rent abatement IF you can show that the apartment's habitability was actually impaired to a significant degree. A complaint, even a citation by the Building Code department, does not necessarily or automatically mean there was a violation of the implied warranty of habitability or that you are entitled to some compensation. You would have to sue, then prove in court (by a preponderance of the evidence) not only that there was a citation, and not even only that there were bedbugs, but that there such a significant infestation that habitability was impaired, and also that the landlord did not take steps to abate or remediate the situation within a reasonable time period of being provided notice of it. That last point alone may be insurmountable for you--for example, if the landlord was informed of a potential infestation 7 days prior to your move in, it is not at all unreasonable that he might not have had the unit treated before you moved in. It takes time to schedule, coordinate, etc. treatments. The landlord is not held to a standard of perfection or required to correct conditions immediately--he must merely take reasonable steps, within a reasonable time frame.


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