There Are Bed Bugs in My Apartment: What Do I Do?

Written by Ingrid Haftel
Updated 12/16/2019

If you’ve found bed bugs in your apartment, you’re not alone—and you shouldn’t feel ashamed. New York City has some of the highest rates of bed bug infestation in the nation, and it can happen in any home. Even though it’s a common problem, that doesn’t change your legal right to a bed bug-free apartment. This means your landlord is legally required to get rid of bed bugs in your apartment. New York City law protects your rights. Read on for steps you can take to get your landlord to fix the problem—and what you can do if they don’t act. (Check out this guide if you’re dealing with bed bugs or not.)

1. Ask your landlord to get rid of the bed bugs in your apartment

Contact your landlord and ask them to fix your bed bug problem. (If you live in Public Housing, you can contact NYCHA at 718-707-7771 make your report.)

Your landlord is legally required to get rid of the bed bugs. They also have to make sure the bugs don’t re-infest your apartment or the apartments of your neighbors. It’s your landlord’s responsibility to fix this problem within 30 days. Even if the bed bugs are in a neighboring apartment, your landlord must take steps to make sure they don’t infest yours.

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2. Document the bed bugs and keep track of communication with your landlord about them

Take photos of any bed bugs you find, or any evidence that bed bugs are in your apartment. (That includes photos of bites or the blood they leave behind on sheets or other items.) If you find actual bugs, put one in a plastic bag. Save copies of any emails or letters you send to or receive from your landlord about the problem. For phone calls, write down the date, time, and what was said. This documentation can help if the problem isn’t getting fixed and you need to take your landlord to court.

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3. Learn about things you can do to help control the problem

Professional extermination is the key to fixing your bed bug problem, but there are things you can do to help before the exterminators get to your apartment. One step you can take is to put all mattresses into bed bug-proof cases. (You can put your mattress into a case to protect it before an infestation happens, too.) You can also wash items like clothing, blankets, and rugs—or dry them on high heat. Check out more advice from Met Council on Housing to help control and eliminate bed bugs.

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4. If your landlord doesn’t act, use JustFix.nyc to file a complaint and get legal help

Getting your landlord to fix a problem—even if it’s required by law—is sometimes easier said than done. If your landlord doesn’t respond to your request—or if the services they provide don’t fix the problem—send them a formal letter of complaint using a tool from JustFix.nyc. If the letter doesn’t provoke action, you can take legal action against them in Housing Court using another JustFix.nyc tool.

For more information on bed bugs and your landlord’s responsibilities, check out Met Council on Housing’s bed bug resource.

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5. If you haven’t already, consider talking to your neighbors about what’s going on

Ask if they’re having the same problems, too. Taking action together can bring more pressure on your landlord to act. Encourage your neighbors to file complaints and tell them about JustFix.nyc. The more people who take action, the harder it is for a landlord to ignore your issues and their responsibilities!

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