A reader of the New York Times wanted to know if she could break her lease because moths were chewing away at her collection of cashmere sweaters.
According to Lucas A. Ferrara, founding partner at Newman Ferrara LLP, while there are statutory protections, such as the “warranty of habitability,” a landlord is not a guarantor that a residential unit is going to be problem-free, but an owner is certainly responsible for keeping an apartment free of conditions that are detrimental to the life, safety, and well-being of the building’s occupants.
This particular condition may not rise to the level of severity contemplated by the law, noted Ferrara. If an infestation of moths is eating away at your clothes, he maintains that, at best, it may just be a mere inconvenience, or an “annoyance,” that will likely not provide sufficient grounds to cancel the lease.
“I’m not seeing how this particular situation adversely impacts the unit’s habitability,” Ferrara said. In other words, particularly when the condition is readily correctable or repairable, a judge is unlikely to let the tenant off, “free and clear.”
And if the tenant were to vacate the apartment prior to the lease’s end, the liability for the owner’s legal fees could also be “quite substantial,” he added.
The article, which appeared in Sunday’s Real Estate Section, is authored by reporter Ronda Kaysen. Ms. Kaysen suggests that the best solution may be for the tenant to convince her landlord to hire an independent professional exterminator to look into the issue. Further, the tenant should either dry clean her clothes or wash them in hot water and be sure to store them in sealable plastics bags or bins.
[Our sincerest thanks to reporter Ronda Kaysen for the ink.]
To read the full story, please click on this link below: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/04/realestate/moths-are-eating-my-clothes-can-i-break-my-lease.html