HOA Horror: Roaches, Bedbugs, And Rats Pt. 1

Last week, we completed a four-part series about moldHOAThis week, we begin an examination of HOA Horrors stories about roaches, bedbugs, and rats across the nation.


A “Biblical” Explosion of Roaches


Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but when your community is invaded by roaches, bedbugs, rats, maggots, and other vermin, it’s time for quick action.

New York City’s famed Ansonia has had an illustrious and remarkable past. The 18-story Beaux-Arts style structure was originally built as a hotel around 1900. Ninety-two years later, it was converted to a 430-unit condominium building.

Over the years, the Ansonia has been home to Babe Ruth, Igor Stravinsky, and Angelina Jolie and has been featured in several movies. During the 1960s and 1970s, it house an infamous gay bathhouse in its basement. Later, the club became, Plato’s Retreat, a renowned heterosexual swing club.

One couple at the Ansonia, Alan Arkin (not the famous actor) and his wife, Suzanne Bagert, said they were hardly able to sleep at night and stopped using their kitchen for fear of crawling critters. They started seeing roaches scurry about in 2006 and had an exterminator spray their unit, but it helped only temporarily. They started sleeping with the lights on.

Ms. Bagert, who worked from home, imagined roaches crawling on her neck. “My brushes my neck and I scream,” she said in an interview with the New York Times. Her husband found a roach in his sock.

After what Mr. Arkin called “a biblical-type explosion of roaches,” the couple filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against the Ansonia’s management. “This infestation,” Mr. Arkin wrote in his court papers, “has rendered their apartment completely unfit to live in.” According to the filing, the situation was so bad that the roaches were on the floor, the walls, the ceiling, the curtains, and even the couple’s bed.

The suit further alleged that his and his wife’s complaints were met by “doublespeak and half-truths.” Management reportedly responded by sending a maintenance worker to knock cockroaches off of the hallways walls, vacuum them up, and then wash the walls with soap and water, a treatment Mr. Arkin called “grossly and negligently” insufficient.

Mr. Arkin further states that management said the infestation was caused by an elderly tenant on the same floor who would not allow exterminators into her apartment.

Even if you’re the most spic and span housekeeper in the world, if you’re sharing walls, ceilings, or floors with a hoarder, or someone who simply keeps wet cat food out all day, getting rid of roaches – and even ants- can be next to impossible. It’s the actual physical nature of community living that is the most challenging.

If infestation exists, communities would be well served to have a regular maintenance schedule for extermination with mandatory cooperation from all unit owners. If the root source of the problem is overlooked, all the spray in the world will be only temporarily effective.

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