Preventing Rats: Who is Responsible?

Whether you own your own property or rent, everyone has a role in rat prevention. You can keep your neighborhood rat free by placing all trash in tightly sealed rat-resistant trash cans and by taking other actions to reduce the conditions that allow rats to survive. Cleaning up, maintaining buildings, lots and yards and containerizing trash are all important steps in rat control.

Property Owners

Property owners are responsible for maintaining a rat-free environment on their properties. The NYC Health Code requires owners to clean their properties and eliminate conditions that lead to rats and when appropriate, to hire a pest management professional. Conditions in and outside buildings and on lots and other premises that contribute to rats are violations of Article 151 of the Health Code. These include accumulation of garbage, waste material, and water, and garbage that is not kept in tightly covered rat-resistant trash cans.


Tenants need to do their part by handling garbage correctly – placing garbage into tightly covered trash cans and promptly reporting rats to property owners, building managers or co-op associations. Tenants can show their building management where they have seen rats or signs of rats and ask them to use the DOHMH Guide “Preventing Rats on Your Property.” If nothing is done, tenants can call 311 to report the problem.

The NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

The Health Department’s Pest Control Services program enforces the Health Code. When a resident calls 311 to report signs of rats, the Health Department inspects the property to ensure that property owners are following the Health Code. When a property fails an inspection, the owner is issued a Commissioner’s Order from the Health Department notifying that rats or conditions that encourage rats have been found on their property. Depending on the severity of the problem, property owners are given a chance to correct conditions before the Health Department returns for a second inspection.

Green Shield Certification

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently earned Green Shield Certification of its Rat Initiative, a proactive program that uses advanced Integrated Pest Management to identify, monitor and reduce the presence of rats. First piloted in the Bronx, the Initiative strives to correct conditions conducive to rats, thereby addressing problems at their source and eliminating unnecessary pesticide use.

More Resources