Mice Have Invaded My Apartment and the Building Can’t Fix It. What Now?


Q I have had a mouse infestation for three months and am at my wits’ end. I am 70 years old, and have lived my rent-stabilized Manhattan apartment for 35 years. I found mounds behind my couch, under the radiators, and in my kitchen. The stove was replaced. However, another mouse was found in the oven. Management refused to replace the oven. The exterminator was sent to place poison boxes and another person came to seal up the holes. Three housing inspectors were here after I called 311. I’ve also sought legal advice, but I couldn’t afford it. I am sickened from inhaling mouse feces, and I think my landlord would be happy if I left so they could have the apartment back.

A: The infestation you describe can indeed be hazardous to your health, but you don’t have to put up with it.

“All landlords must follow the law and make sure apartments aren’t overrun by pests because New Yorkers deserve a healthy, safe place to call home,” said Natasha Kersey, deputy press secretary for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

City laws protect tenants from living with insects, mice and rats, because these vermin can spoil your food, damage your home and make asthma and allergies worse.

You have exhausted the first two steps, which are reaching out to the landlord and calling 311 to make a complaint. You have exhausted the first two steps, which are contacting the landlord and calling 311 to make a complaint. Tenants who are eligible for free legal representation can do so in any borough, but many choose to represent themselves in proceedings where they seek repairs. To strengthen your case, save photos, videos and documentation of your correspondence with your landlord and superintendent.

Ami Shah, deputy director of Legal Services NYC’s citywide housing practice, which provides free legal help to low-income New Yorkers, said that housing court proceedings are helpful in resolving these kinds of situations. You can pursue civil penalties if your landlord does not comply. If the landlord does not comply, you can pursue civil penalties.

Housing court helps remind landlords that they are accountable to the city, not just to you.

“They have to fix it,” Ms. Shah said.

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