Oh, rats! Eric Adams contests summons for infestation

Mayor facing $300 fine for Brooklyn rental rodent problem

Illustration of Mayor Eric Adams (Getty; Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
Illustration of Mayor Eric Adams (Getty; Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)

For once, it’s not the rats who are absolutely going to hate this announcement — it’s the mayor.

Eric Adams had his day in virtual court on Tuesday over a rat infestation at a Brooklyn rental property of his, the New York Times reported. The mayor is contesting a summons he received at 936 Lafayette Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where a city health inspector levied a $300 fine.

The health inspector issued the summons in May, saying “fresh rat droppings were observed near the meters and near the neighboring staircase at front right” of the property. The maximum fine was $600, but Adams was handed the minimum.

During the hearing, Adams pointed towards his rat-fighting efforts as mayor as a way of validating his expertise in combating the rodents. He also claimed to have spent $7,000 in March to fight the rats and even used rat-killing technology he previously demonstrated as Brooklyn borough president to much disgust.

The hearing officer will make the decision about the case within 30 days.

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Adams has not had an easy time fighting the fine. First, he didn’t respond to the summons. Then, he didn’t appear at a hearing for the summons, meaning he was found in violation by default. Adams claimed in a motion he was unaware of the summons initially because of his residence at Gracie Mansion.

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The mayor found a way to contest the summons at that point by filing a motion to vacate the default judgment. Rahul Agarwal, a deputy chief counsel in the mayor’s office, filed the motion in September and represented him in a non-official capacity in November following another missed hearing, attributed to scheduling conflicts.

The Brooklyn home has been a source of controversy for Adams. The property gained local recognition after questions emerged about where Adams actually lived. Tax forms released in October by the mayor’s office showed Adams reported $3,429 in net taxable income after deductions last year on the four-unit Bedford-Stuyvesant property.

In previous years, Adams dodged paying taxes on income he earned there by claiming he had enough deductions and expenses to cancel out his tax burden and any rent collected.

Rats have been a major focus for the former transit officer during his City Hall tenure. Last week, he announced the creation of a new position; the Director of Rodent Mitigation will be expected to exterminate plenty of rats in the city, perhaps even at Adams’ own properties.

— Holden Walter-Warner