Question: I am a senior citizen who has lived quietly in my rent-stabilized Brooklyn apartment for 22 years. For the past three years, my home has been infested with biting mosquitoes. I got rid of the infested possessions – furniture, rugs, clothes, bedding – but the insects bite me all night. My complaints to management went unanswered. I paid the exterminator $200 to no avail. Another exterminator said my landlord had to apply, not me. After I called 311, a city inspector visited my apartment and contacted the landlord, who reported that the problem had been resolved. I contested it, but the case was closed anyway. I have opened a new complaint and I am still awaiting review. What can I do?
AND: You should not live with vermin, including insects. It is your landlord’s responsibility to resolve this issue. So escalate the pressure.
Keep calling 311 and call often. It is possible that your last request was redirected to the wrong city agency (this should be handled by the company Department of Housing Protection and Development), or you missed a call from the inspector.
“There’s no harm in filing more complaints,” said William Fowler, HPD spokesman. “All of this helps build a paper trail and increases the pressure on the owner to fix the problem.”
Also, since the insects are biting you in your sleep, ask for a bed bug check as it is possible that you have more than one infestation and may need more than one type of check.
While your 311 calls are going through the system, you can record what is known as HP continues at the housing court. This will bring your complaint before a judge, who can order the landlord to fix the problem. You do not need a lawyer to file a lawsuit in housing court.
“Now the landlord has to stand before a judge,” said Samuel J. Himmelstein, a Manhattan lawyer who represents the tenants. “It’s very unlikely that they would claim that the problem has been solved if they haven’t. Then they would commit perjury; they could be held in contempt.’
Call your community council and your local city councilor’s office and ask them to advocate for you. On June 6, HPD is hosting a training program on Zoom where residents can learn how to deal with pests and vermin. You can sign up for it online. It can provide useful information.
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