Fabien Levy, the mayor’s spokesman, said once Mr. Adams learned of the summons, his busy schedule prevented him from handling it himself. He declined to comment on the use of a City Hall ‌lawyer in the proceedings, except to say that the mayor had always intended to represent himself.”

“Mayor Adams has made no secret of the fact that he hates rats — whether scurrying around on the streets or terrorizing building tenants,” Mr. Levy said. “He spent thousands of dollars to remediate an infestation at his residence in Brooklyn earlier this year, and was happy to appear before OATH today to state as much.”

OATH adjudicates a broad range of cases, including those involving employee discipline and agency summonses. The office could specify no particular protocol when it comes to handling summonses issued to City Hall officials, but described itself as a wholly independent entity, even though Mr. Adams in March appointed Asim Rehman as OATH commissioner and its chief administrative law judge. The hearing officer who presided over the mayor’s case has only limited civil service protection.

“OATH hearing officers are professional, independent decision makers who do not take into consideration who the person named on the summons is, when issuing a decision in a case that comes before them,” said Marisa L. Senigo, the office’s deputy commissioner for public affairs.

The Lafayette Avenue property owned by Mr. Adams drew attention during the 2021 Democratic mayoral primary. As questions about Mr. Adams’s primary residence grew intense, he offered reporters a guided tour of the building’s basement apartment, asserting that it was his primary residence.

On a rainy late Tuesday afternoon, the building appeared free of rats, but an adjoining property had bags of trash piled up against a stairwell. The neighborhood, however, seemed well acquainted with rodents: The local councilman, Chi Ossé, took office in part on a campaign promise to “talk about rats.”

Sean Piccoli contributed reporting.

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