Bed bugs: no renter wants to hear those words. No matter how careful you are, however, you may find yourself facing bed bug problems, especially if your landlord wasn't truthful about the issue when you moved in.
That's the bad news. The good news, however, is that New York City now has laws protecting tenants from these infestations. The city's Housing and Maintenance Code requires landlords to eliminate bed bugs, and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development gives them a 30-day deadline.
Approximately 95% of tenants in housing court are not represented by attorneys. One of the results is that tenants often enter into agreements (or "stipulations") to give up their apartment even when they may have a strong defense to the case against them. In a recent Kings County housing court case, Wilson v. Burda, NYLJ 8/7/13, Judge Finklestein set aside an agreement to vacate that the tenant entered into three years before. The landlord had brought a case to evict the tenant solely because he had not provided access for extermination of bedbugs. Rather than defend the case, the tenant agreed to move out. The tenant never did move out but instead made a motion to set aside the agreement. The court, in setting aside the agreement, found that it was unduly harsh and one-sided, signed inadvertently, improvidently and worked a severe prejudice and detriment to tenant. Even though the tenant was successful in this case two key lessons are - do not deny access for extermination of bedbugs (unless you have a very good reason and have consulted with an attorney), and if at all possible do not sign an agreement to move out of your apartment without having an attorney look at it first.