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Cooperative May Temporarily Remove Tenant-Shareholder Who Refuses to Implement Plan to Remedy Bedbug Infestation

A Cooperative discovered an infestation of bedbugs in its building. It retained an experienced professional extermination company to inspect the apartments in the building and to design and implement a bug eradication protocol. The inspection of Apartment 53 revealed that the apartment was infested and that conditions in it, such as wood particle boards and suspended ceiling tiles, had to be removed in order to cure the infestation and prevent a recurrence. The inspectors found similar conditions in several other apartments. The occupants of all the other apartments cooperated with the required eradication procedure, but the tenant-shareholder of Apartment 53 refused to move out of her apartment temporarily, as was necessary for the work to proceed. She claimed she would perform the work herself, but she failed to do so.

The Cooperative served a Notice to Cure, stating that the tenant-shareholder could either allow the Cooperative access to perform the necessary work or could do the work herself. She still did neither. The Cooperative then filed suit and moved by Order To Show Cause for an order directing the tenant-shareholder to vacate her apartment temporarily so the Cooperative could perform the necessary work, and providing for the Sheriff to temporarily remove her if necessary. The tenant-shareholder defaulted in opposing the Order To Show Cause and the court granted the relief the Cooperative requested. The tenant-shareholder then moved to vacate her default, but the court refused to do so because she had no meritorious defense.

The court found that under the proprietary lease, the tenant-shareholder is responsible for repairs and maintenance in her apartment. The proprietary lease also authorizes the Cooperative to require a shareholder to repair or remedy any objectionable conditions that may cause damage to other apartments. If a tenant-shareholder fails to do so, the Cooperative may perform the work itself and bill the tenant-shareholder for the cost. Moreover, the Cooperative’s determinations that there was a bedbug infestation and that the work had to be performed were protected by the Business Judgment Rule. 7 West 92nd Housing Dev. Fund Corp. v. Vidal, 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 103, 2017 N.Y. Slip Op. 30044(U) (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. Jan. 10, 2017).