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We just moved into an apartment in a great (but somewhat expensive) building. Upon move-in we found several dead centipedes on the floor. Following that, we saw several live ones, and a cockroach in the stove.

Exterminators came and sprayed, and it seems that while that roach was errant (there were no signs of others having been there, and neighbors haven't seen any), the centipedes remain. I haven't seen a lot of them, but we'll see one crawling on a wall at night occasionally.

This isn't a big deal to me, but my wife has a phobia-level aversion to the critters. She can't even kill them with her shoe; she just runs. We talked to the apartment manager about this issue, and she escalated it to the management company. Turns out they'll waive the 6-month apartment transfer requirement, but still make us pay the $500 fee.

The only thing in the contract about bugs relates to bedbugs. There is something about transferring to a different apartment in the contract, but it just says "a fee" - no amount is stated.

Is my only feasible solution here to pay?

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I am a licenced and bonded landlord and will answer from that perspective.

You do not say where you are, however, within the U.S. States that I operate in, there is little in the law about bugs with some obvious exceptions.

One exception is infestation. While there are varying degrees of concerns with infestations, the landlord has one obligation and that is to remedy the situation within a reasonable time using reasonable means. This often means hiring a licensed exterminator within a reasonable period of time and solving the problem within a reasonable time. This does not always work. For example, ants and termites may require additional expertise in solving the problem.

Centipedes are often a result of moisture. While spraying is a start, the management may have other issues such as cracks in the foundation. Even small ones are enough. This is a prime example of requiring additional expertise. It may be that additional work is required. Centipede are common and largely harmless and often do not constitute an infestation. They are creepy for sure.

Regardless of what the lease says, the law prevails here. Only a few rights can be waived by contract.

The landlord is required to use all reasonable means to solve the problem. Until it can be proven that the landlord has failed to solve the problem using reasonable means, you have no legal recourse.

You can certainly ask to have the fee waived. However, the landlord is under no obligation at this point and may choose not to. It is your choice. However, I would make sure you are not on the ground floor if you do switch apartments.

One other thing. There is no such thing as just one roach. The landlord should be spraying adjacent apartments including above and below. As well, assuming there is a basement, the landlord should be paying attention to cracks and gaps there too. Roaches require water and food. If another tenant is not clean then that is a problem that the landlord must solve also. This may not be too alarming of a problem since most roaches come from tenants moving. Higher turnover often means more problems including bed bugs. Proper periodic maintenance is required for larger apartment complexes.

Use this answer as a standard by which to gauge the landlords response.

  • Thanks, it's all applicable and we're going to pay the fee and move upstairs. About the roach - we looked everywhere. We even took apart the stove (the roach was behind the clock, inside the electronics). There were no dead roaches, droppings, etc. - not in the clock area, not anywhere in the apartment. This one really was a stray, it seems. They sprayed anyway and left solid bait they'd take back to their friends, should there be any hiding anywhere. – horse hair Sep 12 '17 at 19:16
  • Roaches are attracted to stoves, refrigerators, TVs, radios, etc. If there is one there are more, you just have not seen them. As a landlord, one roach is enough to spray as I prescribed though I have not had to do this in a decade. It sounds like your landlord was responsive and did the right things. Be that as it may, moving sounds like a good option given the situation with your wife. I get it. I would wave all fees for you. Kindness goes along way! Happy tenants stay longer. It pays to manage property well and not on the cheap. Cheers!! – closetnoc Sep 12 '17 at 19:38

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