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Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed

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Old Nov 12th, 2011, 08:18 PM   #1
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Angry Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed

I moved in to my apartment a few months ago, and the landlord has been slow to get around to fixing everything. I live in NC for reference. We signed a 1 year lease, so I know it may be difficult to be released from the lease. There is also a 2 year old living in the apartment.

We have been having a serious problem with roaches in our apartment. They are mostly located in the kitchen, but we have been finding them in the bathroom, too. The landlord has an exterminator spray once a month. We were told it would be once a week, but that exterminator quit and the new guy sprays every building once a month. It isn't in our lease that it will be sprayed once a week, but it is part of the reason we moved here.

The roaches are getting worse despite the spraying and us investing our own money for insecticides. We are also very clean people, and clean the kitchen every night after every meal, so it isn't as though we are creating an environment intentionally for the roaches. I have been finding roaches in my brand new (out of box) dryer, which is less than a month old.

The landlord was notified by one of the neighbors we share a main wall with that they are the reason the rest of the apartments near them have roaches so badly. To our knowledge the landlord hasn't done anything about it.

The landlord has also neglected to repair the gutter outside my apartment door. A tree must have fallen on it and bent it so severely all the water drains off the roof directly in front of my door. It hasn't flooded my apartment yet, but you must walk through water up to your ankles when it rains heavily just to get to the door. The landlord has been notified of the issue, and we have complained to the county building/codes inspector. They obviously can't do anything about it legally.

The people who painted our apartment painted over the dust bunnies in our air vents, and we aren't sure when they last changed the filter on the HVAC. The toddler and my partner have breathing issues (asthma, etc), which is noticeably worse while in the apartment.

There are children who have defaced the property (used a BB gun to put holes in the gutters, and the storage door of other apartments) and continually kick balls into cars, take valve stem covers off cars, etc. The landlord has not done anything about this despite repeated complaints by multiple tenants. When the children were confronted they began yelling at and swearing at the adults.

So, with all of these problems - the main one being that our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed once a month and our attempt to keep it clean, the problematic children, the allergy issues, etc. - do we stand a chance being able to break our lease? The continuous stream of roaches in our kitchen is the breaking point. We kill at least 7-10 a day (daytime, not night time).

These people tend to do the bare minimum to get buy with codes and laws. I'm sick of it and am tired of paying my hard earned money to people who don't care about their property - just a paycheck.

Also, the turn around time for an apartment around here is about 10 days.
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Old Nov 12th, 2011, 11:15 PM   #2
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Default re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed

I wish to inform you that your lease agreement and condition of your house will govern your rights. If roaches make your house uninhabitable then you may terminate lease. In this regard you may give a notice to your landlord that repair of house must be done as otherwise the house is uninhabitable. You may keep noice as evidence of uninhabitable nature of premises. If your landlord still foes not remedy the situation then you may terminate lease on the ground that premises is uninhabitable.

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Old Nov 12th, 2011, 11:54 PM   #3
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Default re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed

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Originally Posted by xxkatxx77 View Post
I moved in to my apartment a few months ago, and the landlord has been slow to get around to fixing everything. I live in NC for reference. We signed a 1 year lease, so I know it may be difficult to be released from the lease. There is also a 2 year old living in the apartment.

We have been having a serious problem with roaches in our apartment. They are mostly located in the kitchen, but we have been finding them in the bathroom, too. The landlord has an exterminator spray once a month. We were told it would be once a week, but that exterminator quit and the new guy sprays every building once a month. It isn't in our lease that it will be sprayed once a week, but it is part of the reason we moved here.

The roaches are getting worse despite the spraying and us investing our own money for insecticides. We are also very clean people, and clean the kitchen every night after every meal, so it isn't as though we are creating an environment intentionally for the roaches. I have been finding roaches in my brand new (out of box) dryer, which is less than a month old.

The landlord was notified by one of the neighbors we share a main wall with that they are the reason the rest of the apartments near them have roaches so badly. To our knowledge the landlord hasn't done anything about it.

The landlord has also neglected to repair the gutter outside my apartment door. A tree must have fallen on it and bent it so severely all the water drains off the roof directly in front of my door. It hasn't flooded my apartment yet, but you must walk through water up to your ankles when it rains heavily just to get to the door. The landlord has been notified of the issue, and we have complained to the county building/codes inspector. They obviously can't do anything about it legally.

The people who painted our apartment painted over the dust bunnies in our air vents, and we aren't sure when they last changed the filter on the HVAC. The toddler and my partner have breathing issues (asthma, etc), which is noticeably worse while in the apartment.

There are children who have defaced the property (used a BB gun to put holes in the gutters, and the storage door of other apartments) and continually kick balls into cars, take valve stem covers off cars, etc. The landlord has not done anything about this despite repeated complaints by multiple tenants. When the children were confronted they began yelling at and swearing at the adults.

So, with all of these problems - the main one being that our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed once a month and our attempt to keep it clean, the problematic children, the allergy issues, etc. - do we stand a chance being able to break our lease? The continuous stream of roaches in our kitchen is the breaking point. We kill at least 7-10 a day (daytime, not night time).

These people tend to do the bare minimum to get buy with codes and laws. I'm sick of it and am tired of paying my hard earned money to people who don't care about their property - just a paycheck.

Also, the turn around time for an apartment around here is about 10 days.
Normally, I'd tell you that the LL is doing what is required of them to get rid of the roaches by having the exterminator come out every month. But as you say, the problem should be getting BETTER, not worse, especially with the frequency of the treatments. I think it's time to call in the health inspector and get down to the bottom of the roach problem. It doesn't make sense to keep spraying in YOUR rental unit when the problem is coming from somewhere else. When you make your report, be sure to inform the inspector of the fact that despite LL's frequent exterminator visits, the problem is getting worse, and you suspect the the real issue is with the neighboring units that share the walls with you.

As for the allergy issues, roach droppings are known to cause severe allergy and asthma issues, so I'm not surprised at the increase of such medical issues with the severity of the roach infestation you describe.

And as for the unruly children, a call to the police every time they do what they do should at least bring the problem to the attention of someone who can and will do something about it.
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Old Nov 13th, 2011, 12:11 AM   #4
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Default re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being sprayed

Unruly and disrespectful children...if they are doing something wrong, illegal, bad or inappropriate to someone's personal property, and it causes damage, whip out your cell phone and take a picture of them in the act. Then, call the police.
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Old Nov 13th, 2011, 08:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being spraye

I echo getting the health/building apartment in for an inspection. The water runoff is a building/code problem, the roaches a health department problem. Roaches have a tendency to gather where water is available, so finding them in bathrooms, under sinks should be no surprise. Short of tenting the entire building, roach traps which contain bait they take back to feed the poisoned baits to their nest is another solution. They are most likely in the walls, too.

If you want to move out of this place, consider that the landlord has already broken his end of the lease -- the covenant of habitability. You just need to document it with a health department report, photos of the deferred maintenance, copies of any correspondence you have sent about the deficiencies and problems with the building. Then prepare to move.

Last edited by Friend In Court; Nov 13th, 2011 at 08:45 PM. Reason: typo
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Old Nov 25th, 2011, 09:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being spraye

I'm a contractor, and that is called a slum. If there is a "slumlord code of ethics" those issues would be there. Obviously, I cannot be a professional, but here's some thoughts.
Roaches: they need food and water. Water not properly drained (broken roof drain, slum-type maintenance, broken drain pipe...) collects in unviewable areas of home ie walls, crawlway, underslab, in the woodwork, etc. Sitting water brings bugs, mold, bacteria and plants. Life cycle makes food for roaches. Roaches eat mostly anything, so most of your house is edible and therefore tunnelable. Lots of roaches mean lots of food. They also multiply like... roaches. So, killing them actually makes their population grow because their food source sustains them. And they are everywhere if somewhere, I have seen videos of them eating spit out of a sleeping babies mouth.

To the gutter: slumlords will evade fixing it untill you show the authorities proof of hazard. Slipping on moldy ground, mold from water damage from specific source, and similar. Then, when you do, the owner does as little as possible, then expends every effort to make Your life miserable till you leave. The county building inspector should be able to inform you of the specific codes and violations, but that's probably it. Get those first and then talk to local renter's advocates.

Paint and caulking, the liquid duct tape. Need I say more?

Filters cost money, like $3-4 bucks each. Add to it that they are tax deductions for the slumlord and so less, and if in bulk cheaper still. That means, that hooker and $100 bottle of vodka come first. Don't forget the effort involved in hiring the bum on the corner to come into your home, looking at your filter, stealing what he can, then going to the swap meet to sell the new filter, is in his mind too much compared to making your life as miserable as he can.

Don't worry about the bb guns and balls; in the next five years they'll steal and sell your car, buy guns and tweak, then shoot each other and your house. Your family will be traumatized, and you'll be a witness for the cops way too long.

Other thoughts: do you have carpets? Then they are worse to walk on than eating the dirt outside, ie roach poop is sticky so vacuums don't pick it up. HVAC, something with a gas flame and something that makes water, with lots and lots of air. Are the gas burners clean? CO and more. Is the water drained, or does it pool? Temperature changes and pressure can draw humidity out of the air, making moisture inside walls, insulation, ceiling and all. Moisture plus roaches guarantees mold and diseases. They spray chemicals, you spray chemicals, 50 neighbors spray chemicals, the next door neighbor has a cloud factory for a truck, and then add in all the cleaning chemicals- most of which have labels as being dangerous for those with breathing problems.
I'm sorry, I've been plumbing for over 20 years and seen way too much. Kids digging in mud because there is a cess pool under the house from a broken drain several years old, a recent example. You have two solutions. 1) move out and find decent rent under someone who is intellegently cheap, not stupid slumlord. or 2) expend all your energy against a situation specifically meant to torture and degrade you and is unchangeable.
Move out somewhere cleanable and maintained, and you all will be so much better, you won't believe it.

I stand by my statement. Slum slum slumlord.
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Old Jan 9th, 2012, 10:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being spraye

I wanted to thank you all for your advice and your help. Here is an update on the situation:

Our apartment has been fogged twice within a month. Well, the kitchen was fogged, and the second time the exterminator sprayed the entire apartment. We are still killing 10-20 roaches a day. We have sealed all the face plates in the walls with blue painter's tape (except behind the fridge and range), and that has helped detain the roaches to the kitchen except for the occasional roach that crawls out of the air vent in the wall. Apparently, the first time our apartment was fogged, it wasn't done by anyone the exterminator knew, so we're guessing it was the maintenance man.

The people at the front office have been telling us for more than a month we don't have a bug problem. Even the property manager told us we don't have a bug problem. We have since put glue boards down around he kitchen, and have proof to negate their beliefs. They have also been telling us this despite the exterminator (it's a bonafide company they hired for the entire complex - aka a true professional) telling them we have a severe roach infestation and recommends we be moved out of the apartment so they can fog inside the walls.

As for the trouble makers in the parking lot, they have mostly moved down to the woods/creek behind our apartment, so not really a problem any more. However, one of them threw a football at our neighbor's window and when confronted they started swearing and using racial slurs (they are Hispanic, we are all white). When the cops were called around the situation, we were told we should be grateful they aren't spraying graffiti on our walls.

The entire complex has been since put under Operation Phoenix, which is an area which is denoted as being a high crime area and thus is a more centralized police patrol area. Probably why the kids moved behind the apartments.

They fixed the gutter outside our apartment 2 days ago. It doesn't do much good since the drainage pipe next to our apartment is full of BB holes and is duct taped together.

Oh, I should mention, the first time they "fogged" the apartment, the genius who did it put roach bait outside the toddler's room above the door frame. Obviously, bait = more roaches in that area. The toddler has since been bringing us roaches on a daily basis, and we are pretty sure she has eaten a few. I am not sure they realize if she comes in contact with a roach which is poisoned she could die. Our neighbor upstairs lost a cat due to an ingested poisoned roach. The only area I can think of them coming from in the toddler's room is through the HVAC system, since we have seen a few crawl out of the vents in both our bedroom and the vent in our living room.

A few days before our apartment was to be fogged the second time, our landlord told all of our neighbors we have a severe roach problem, will be fogged, and they should take action so the roaches don't come into their apartment.

I have also had to throw away my coffee maker, as the roaches were living in it, and sunbathing in the LED clock of the coffee maker. I can't buy anything nice because roaches will probably invade it. My $75 microwave will probably have to be thrown away when I move.

I had a conversation with the exterminator - the same day he decided our problem was so bad he was going to come on his own time and fog our apartment on his own dime. He said the roaches are the worst in all the apartment which share a wall with the old laundry rooms, which have since been cleaned out, but the property manager refuses to heed his advice and treat them. They are also a source of the water beetles we have all been seeing (we being all the people who share a wall with the laundry room). Apparently we have a mix of roaches, water beetles, and "a little bit of everything" (per the exterminator) infesting the apartment.

We are trying to get a hold of a tenant right's lawyer and get some free advice. The company that owns this complex is a large company which owns properties all over the eastern US. I have been tempted to send a formal letter to the top 3 officials of the company (no guarantee they will get it, unfortunately), the Regional manager (if I can find an address to contact her at), and to the property manager. I have over 100 pictures of the apartment, the gutter, the roaches (usually the aftermath of having squish them). It's gotten so bad the toddler throws her shoe at the wall and laughs, thinking bug squishing is a game!

The office staff have known we have a bug problem, and they are making up every excuse as to why it isn't their fault it's so extreme. They tried telling us we brought the bugs with us, but we didn't have furniture the first 2 weeks we moved in, and there was a roach crawling on the heating element in the dishwasher, which we pointed out to the person who walked the apartment with us - meaning she saw it with her own two eyes).

I can't wait to move out of this place, but I'm paranoid about hitchhikers, and really don't want to infest anyone else's property.
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Old Jan 10th, 2012, 01:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being spraye

I would stop even negotiating with these people. take the necessary picture, show the proof that you contacted these ppl several times and simply move somewhere else. if they try to sue you, sue them back for the deposit, which i would do anyways and maybe even for the moving costs, etc.
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 11:22 PM   #9
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Default Re: Habitability issue... Our apartment is infested with roaches despite being spraye

xxKatxx77 -

We are having a very similar situation to yours - and based on some of your descriptions, I wonder if we are in the same complex as you. We just moved in a month ago. On move in day, we found a roach and approached the office staff. Their response was (and still is) "We have NEEEVER had a problem with roaches... oh those things? They're just Palmetto bugs". When we started bringing her mason jars full of them, she perked up a little bit, and said the exterminator comes every Friday and she'll put us on the list. Excuse me, Management, I thought you never have had this problem before? The bug guy is here every week?! So we get our apartment sprayed (with a lot of stress on us and our cats), and we had a little reprieve. For about a week. Now they are back in full force. And this time when the bug guy took a look at our jar full of roaches (in every stage of their life cycle) he has noticed that we actually have palmetto (american) roaches, german (much more pesty!) roaches, and a third species of roach. Now management is insisting that we brought them with us. Absolutely not the case.

So, xxKatxx77, if you happen to see this post, I would love to get into contact with you. If this is the same complex, I would love to see how your situation resolved. Please reach me at mmf211 at yahoo dot com. Thanks so much!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2012, 10:25 PM   #10
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I also live in a roach infested appartment. It got so bad that my wife and I sent the kids and the dogs to my in laws. After they were gone, we called a health inspector and he said that there was no MAIJOR issue so I decided to get a broom handle and open a hole in the dry wall in front of him. The roaches were pouring out like water. My wife suffers from allergies associated with the roaches. I would recomend geting a night-light and plug it in at night and under it fill a glass jar with water and dinner leftovers. Works like a charm. And about the problem kids, I would just call 911 every time I see them and take their pictures so the cops will find them.
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