What are my rights if my apartment is infested with cockroaches?

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What are my rights if my apartment is infested with cockroaches?

I live in an apartment (with my 10 year-old) where I’ve seen several cockroaches. The property manager was informed and sent someone to spray the apartment each time but they keep coming back. I’m so uncomfortable that I sleep in the livingroom (with all lights on) and I’ve banned the usage of 1 of my bathrooms. My lease ends in about 7 months. I would like to know what are my rights in this situation?

Asked on March 23, 2011 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

All leases have what's known as an implied warranty of habitability, which means that the apartment must be clean, hygienic, etc. This extends to being free from pests and vermin, like cochroaches. You could, if necessary, seek a court order (called injunctive) relief, forcing the landlord to bring in an exterminator. The problem is, if the landlord is taking care of the cockroaches in a reasonable way--as they may be, based on what you right--then the landlord would not in this case be doing anything wrong; their obligation is to take reasonable steps, but if they are doing that and the cockroaches keep coming back, they probably wouldn't face any legal liability. A very bad infestation might allow you to terminate the lease, but "several cockroaches" would likely not rise to that level--and especially if the landlord does take action when informed. In short, it may be that you have to live with this if you have a small number of cockroaches and a landlord that is responsible when informed of them.


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