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What can I do if an infestation of cockroaches and mice in my apartment made me sick?

Asked by user in New York.

I was living at a property for 3 years. I constantly emailed the landlord about my infestation of cockroaches and mice. They sent a worker a few times, but never quite did the job and it progressed. I moved out on January 31st and now I'm having symptoms of hantavirus.

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

Under the warranty of habitability, tenants in New York have the right to a liveable, safe, and sanitary apartment. If a landlord fails to provide a liveable, safe, and sanitary apartment, tenants have several options, including terminating their tenancy and reducing their rent.

It sounds like you have already moved out of your apartment. In this case, you may be able to recover damages (medical expenses, etc.) from your landlord if you can prove that:

  1. You notified your landlord about the infestation,
  2. Your landlord failed to take the appropriate action (this may be difficult to prove because your landlord sent exterminators to the apartment on several occasions), and
  3. The infestation caused your injuries.

I don’t know enough about hantavirus to know whether you will have a difficult time proving that the infestation caused your illness. Similarly, I don’t know enough about the actions taken by your landlord to know if those actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

I recommend meeting with a landlord-tenant or personal injury attorney in your area. Most initial consultations are free. When you meet with the attorney, be sure to bring copies of all the communications you’ve had with your landlord about the issue. Also, bring along any medical records you have related to the hantavirus.

If you need help reaching an attorney in your area, you can use our free online directory. If you think you may qualify for free legal help, you can contact the New York State Bar.

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