You probably clicked this article out of sheer curiosity — or worse, you actually have dealt with a rat infestation while living in a city. Hoboken + Jersey City have been having growing problems with rodents, so much so that Hoboken is setting up rat baits around the city. Shayna Conde is a local Jersey City resident and writer for The Hoboken Girl. She has been dealing with an ongoing rat infestation in her building and has given HG an inside scoop into the tips and tricks she’s learned while navigating the outbreak.
When I first moved into my adorable one-bedroom apartment in Jersey City Heights, I never imagined I’d have to worry about rats running inside my walls and ceiling. While not an uncommon occurrence in a city, I learned the hard way that it can be a complicated process. Having a less than responsive management company, I had to take matters into my own hands (with a lot of trial and error). Since there are an increasing number of stories of Jersey City and Hoboken residents dealing with various unwelcome and fuzzy roommates — but let’s call them what they are — rats, I’m sharing my tips and tricks that have helped me to get the legal help I needed to protect myself — and my money — during this live-action Ratatouille. Here are some suggestions should you ever need to handle a rat infestation in Hoboken or Jersey City — or anywhere, for that matter.
- First, notify the building’s superintendent and the building’s management company or landlord of the issue via email. The paper trail is important just in case things don’t get handled well. If you do not get a response within 24 hours, then I’d say it’s safe to take matters a little further. If you can only text the building’s super, be sure to screenshot that message, just in case you need it later.
- Contact the Jersey City or Hoboken Housing Authorities and the Health Department to tell them about the situation and your efforts to contact the building management. At the same time, follow up with the building’s management company or landlord and tell them that you’re reaching out to these entities. This might scare them enough to actually help you with all your rodent roomies, but even if it doesn’t, it’s good to have a growing, written record of your rat issue and attempts to get help.
- Record everything. If you find rodent droppings, hear scurrying across your walls, or even find rats in and around your living spaces, document all of it, with videos and/or pictures. Also, timestamp everything. The more detailed the information, the better.
- Use social media to connect with neighbors potentially going through similar issues. That’s where I was able to get most of the help I needed to actually make a difference in my housing crisis. You might be asking, “Which social media platform is best to find this kind of help?” — and there’s no right answer for that. I used TikTok because I have the most followers on there, so I assumed my questions and rantings would get a larger reach. Facebook is also a great resource — especially the Hoboken + Jersey City Insiders page. Another benefit of using social media is that all of your information is time-stamped automatically through the app.
- Reach out to The Waterfront Project if you fall within the community that the WFP helps. This is an amazing Jersey City-based nonprofit organization that helps tenants with problematic landlord issues and more. The team helps anyone who makes less than 80% of the AMI (area median income), seniors, veterans, and those living with disabilities. If you don’t fall under one of those categories and you’re living in Hoboken, you can also contact Hoboken’s Tenant Advocate — which you can find here — to receive free legal services.
- Talk to your neighbors. If you’re having this problem, then there’s a very high possibility that your neighbors are, too. There is power in numbers, so try to encourage your neighbors to stand with you to get the rodent problems addressed. That could mean that they also reach out to the building’s landlord or management company — and your individual case can grow to become a more communal one.
- Don’t buy the Pest-A-Cator 2000 Plus at Home Depot. It’s a rodent repelling aid that’s supposed to emit a frequency that drives rats away… it doesn’t work.
- Write two letters to your management company or landlord for assistance with extermination. If that does not work, before you hire an exterminator. Ideally, if you are dealing with an infestation and your landlord’s exterminator services are proving incapable of fixing the problem, then your landlord would give you a “letter of insurance.” This letter would allow you to hire an outside exterminator to handle your infestation. My management company didn’t do that, though. Instead, The Waterfront Project and I worked to write two letters to my management company. The first was to notify the company that I was considering getting an outside exterminator if the infestation wasn’t handled. Then, after two weeks, I sent the next letter to confirm that I was moving ahead with an outside exterminator. After the second letter is sent — ideally via either certified mail or emailed, because you need to keep a paper trail — then you can hire an outside exterminator without fear of your landlord or management company successfully countersuing you.
- Though I tried reaching out to a few Jersey-City based extermination companies, one has been the most responsive so far. That company is Tapout Termite & Pest Control. It has wonderful customer service and I strongly recommend them. When I shared my situation with the representative, they were not only very understanding but also incredibly honest. Because the rodents in my ceiling are entering through massive holes covered by my dropped ceiling, the representative said that I’d probably need a handyman to correctly patch my ceiling more than I’d need an exterminator.
- The representative from Tapout Termite & Pest Control mentioned that it isn’t true if anyone tells you that a sealant or foam is ‘laced with rat poison’ and I believe him. My super ‘filled’ the holes in my ceiling with a foam that was supposedly laced with rat poison and I heard the rats eating through it less than 3 days after it was applied.
- While there are many pest control and extermination options in the JC + Hoboken area, I had a hard time getting in touch with some. The two companies that were the most responsive (in my experience) were Get’m Pest Control and Tapout Termite & Pest Control. For Get’m Pest Control to treat a standard apartment (rate based on the number of kitchens in the apartment, not bedrooms), it would cost around $200, and for a 1 family house, it would cost around $240. For Tapout Termite + Pest Control, the price will mostly depend on what kind of animal/critter is infesting your home. Whether you have an apartment or a single-family home, the price for the treatment will be between $225-275. Tapout also provides 2 visits with your payment and a 30-day warranty after the second visit to make sure the infestation is handled.
- I have found a YouTube video that has a frequency in it that keeps the rats, mice, and whatever other rodents live in my ceiling at bay! It plays for 10 hours and it’s at a frequency that’s barely detectable to human ears so you can sleep through the night without having to hear the pitter-patter of little rat feet. Here’s the link.
My story is still unfolding as I continue to battle my uninvited rat guests and my building, so be on the lookout for updates to this article with more tips and tricks for surviving a rat infestation.