Q. I am the president of our apartment. We have an owner who has bed bugs but refuses to do anything about it. He threatens criminal acts if we force ourselves into the unit, which is extremely overloaded. They have all kinds of remedies for cooperatives and rental houses. But what about [condo] Device Owners Refusing to Do Something? How can the board and management proceed? He claims he doesn’t have bed bugs, but our exterminator says otherwise.
– Trapped by the infestation
A. According to Lisa Smith, an associate with New York law firm Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP, “Most condominium statutes have a section titled“ Access Rights, ”which allows the board of directors, its agents, authorized persons, etc. to enter Device for the purpose of inspection, maintenance, repair and curing of violations. In emergencies, the right of access can be exercised immediately. While many consider a bed bug infestation an “emergency”, it is not like a fire or a flood. If the owner of the unit denies access, the owner of the unit should be held in default of the statutes and the condominium should seek a court order granting access. While most statutes provide for reimbursement of costs, it will take time to get a court order and there is no guarantee that the court will award 100 percent of the costs incurred.
“The problem is compounded by the fact that this device owner may also be a hoarder. Hoarding is known as “Collyer Brothers Syndrome” after two brothers with that surname were found dead in their home among more than 140 tons of items they’d collected over decades. Hoarding presents its own troubles for a condo, but it’s important to remember that it is a mental illness. If that equipment owner has an emergency contact person, the manager should reach out to them to convince the equipment owner to allow access – both to clean the equipment and to examine and treat bed bugs. In extreme cases, adult protection services may be called and / or a guardian may be appointed by the court. Obviously, while the condominium is not entirely without legal redress, it is cheaper, more expedient, and more neighborly to convince the owner to allow access than to pursue litigation. “