Walls Not Included
December 22, 2015 9:11 AM   Subscribe

How Four Roommates Got Duped Into Camping In A $6K A Month Williamsburg Death-Trap

"They were like, 'Oh yeah, it’s going to be great,'" Holman recalled. "'There's going to be a gym on the roof. They still haven’t put the walls up, but it’s going to be great. It'll be awesome: a brand new building. There's not going to be cockroaches.'"
posted by poffin boffin (62 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
The subtext of this is that these people were unaware or unwilling to call the NYC tenant hotline and speak to an attorney. They wasted money for a year on a very common scam.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:17 AM on December 22, 2015 [20 favorites]


The story of the murdered landlord was covered extensively on Failed Messiah.

Was just talking to my Orthodox Jewish friend about this, asking him if this type of fraud was something unique to that group of Hasidim (something that Failed Messiah believes). No, he said, it's unique to New York, city and state. How many bribes does one have to take to allow an entire "luxury" 5-story building to be so condemned that its residents have to move out in an hour?
posted by Melismata at 9:17 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am really intrigued at a rental market that is so terrible that lots and lots of people are willing to spend thousands a month for a place that doesn't have walls.

He worries that Bernat's LLC will declare bankruptcy and leave him and other victims out of luck.

Of course it will. That's what happens everywhere -- start a new company build something new, do less than you promise, suck all the cash out of that company into your real company, repeat.
posted by jeather at 9:20 AM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Why in the blue blazes did they keep paying this guy his rent???

Shit, two of my friends went into a year-long rent strike against their landlord just over the wonky hot water access alone. If they hadn't had walls or doors, they might have thrown in trying to sue the guy for a pony or something - they sure as SHIT would not have kept paying him rent. (And a legal aid worker even confirmed a rent strike was the way to go, and sort-of kind-of implied that if they just up and moved out one day, the landlord wouldn't be able to find them and collect the back rent "because you have a common name".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on December 22, 2015 [23 favorites]


As the months wore on, Holman's view of humanity started to dim.
"I'm one of those kind of people who gives people benefit of a doubt," she said.


Apparently she was unaware that many landlords aren't technically "people" but instead "complete monsters" and should be awarded no such benefit.
posted by pwally at 9:24 AM on December 22, 2015 [25 favorites]


They do stop paying rent at some point, and then become embroiled in a lawsuit as a result. But yes, they should have gotten a lawyer earlier.
posted by tofu_crouton at 9:25 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I do feel for them. When the place you're renting is so terrible that the only option would be to immediately move out, the person really being punished is you. I lived in a rented home in rural Maryland that absolutely should have been condemned. The owner was a nice lady but her ideas of what is an appropriate dwelling for modern humans were outdated by about a century. But I didn't really feel like I could do anything about it because if I called inspectors, we likely would have been told to move out, and then what? There was nowhere else to live, at least not that we could afford.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


The New York of 2015 is evidently still dealing with the same shit as the New York of 1985, but with higher rent.

Seriously, NYC. Get your shit together on this. You have the resources.
You too, San Francisco.
Even DC doesn't have it this bad. We've barely got a functioning government to start with, and congress pointlessly limits how much housing we can build.

posted by schmod at 9:28 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


#2 best NYC real estate advice: "It will be fixed before you move in" is always a complete lie.

#1 best NYC real estate advice: Live somewhere else. (I say this advisedly, as someone who just spent a year trying to get a job ANYWHERE else).
posted by Jeanne at 9:33 AM on December 22, 2015 [15 favorites]


Here's a modest proposal:

Owners of rental units should be required to put down a deposit, equivalent to 6 months of the rent that they collect.

If the owner fucks over the tenants so badly that the building gets condemned, the tenants get that money for temporary housing and assistance finding a new dwelling.

Tenants already are required to put down deposits for fairly ridiculous reasons. Turn the tables, and make the owners accountable for "damages" too.
posted by schmod at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2015 [26 favorites]


#2 best NYC real estate advice: "It will be fixed before you move in" is always a complete lie.

That's best EVERYWHERE real estate advice.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:40 AM on December 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Every time I read one of these pieces I am increasingly happy that I am not renting in New York.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:41 AM on December 22, 2015


The part where she says she kept paying rent because she didn't want it to affect her credit score. Please gods let the credit score fall into obsoletion already. It's a shame and a scandal that this young person threw many thousands of dollars at a criminal--while enduring property destruction and upheaval!--because she's been told again and again that one's credit score is the Most Important Thing and that you mustn't fuck it up, no matter the personal cost to you, your family, or your dignity.

Imagine a scenario where she doesn't get a job because a credit check is part of the hiring process. And there's nobody who will listen to her story of "no, actually, I wasn't going to pay for a dwelling that was uninhabitable, this landlord was a serious con artist, I did what any reasonable person would do."
posted by witchen at 9:42 AM on December 22, 2015 [48 favorites]


I rented a room via Air Bnb in an apartment in this very building in the fall of 2014... kind of scary to read this.
posted by remembrancer at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


it's not just the credit score, it's also the tenant blacklist.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


I don't know. Personally I'm not paying for, or moving in to, an unfinished apartment. I've lived in NYC, in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I understand how hard it is to get a decent place for decent rent. But no. Unfinished? I turn around and walk away. I can't muster up a lot of sympathy for these people. You can't live in a promise. You don't pay for a promise.
posted by Splunge at 9:50 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't think rent even counts in credit score. It's not a debt -- it's a liability you accrue and pay off monthly. There is a separate renter scoring now, and some other tenant reporting databases, but I don't know how many landlords use them. Seems like if your landlord can't afford walls, they probably can't afford screening tools either.
posted by pwnguin at 10:01 AM on December 22, 2015


I signed a lease on an unfinished apartment about a year and a half ago, and I told the landlord I was only signing if we included a thing on the lease that said that if the apartment wasn't finished by my move-in date, he would pay me $100 a day to cover the cost of storage and a hotel. He acted like I was a big unreasonable wacko person for insisting on that, but he also thinks I'm unreasonable because I expect him to make repairs in a timely fashion, so I've just made my peace with not being buddies with my landlord.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2015 [19 favorites]


If you're sent into collections, that does affect your credit score. Badly. And I'm not talking about her credit score being dinged with the unable-to-afford-walls landlord, but with every other apartment or job she may apply for.
posted by witchen at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I've heard rumors of this "tenant blacklist," but I had friends who went on an 8-month rent strike and finally just moved out - and not only did they have no problem finding another apartment, they also talked to a legal aid volunteer, who not only didn't warn them about such a blacklist, he even off-the-record said that they could stiff their old scofflaw landlord "because you have a common name and there's no way he could easily find you".

So I've got my doubts that such a blacklist exists, or at least that the people who would use it in these circumstances would be people you'd want to rent from anyway. Are we sure it is really a thing, or is it just a boogeyman people use to scare you into staying in shithole apartments?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seems like if your landlord can't afford walls, they probably can't afford screening tools either.

they guy was a multimillionaire longtime local slumlord and loan shark, not some down on his luck first timer who couldn't afford walls.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:14 AM on December 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


poffin boffin: "it's not just the credit score, it's also the tenant blacklist."

And that's why it's insane that New York actually permits (and seems to encourage) housing discrimination.

So much bad shit happens because of the insane housing system that New York built for itself that doesn't exist anywhere else. The process of renting an apartment in New York City reads like a catalog of perverse economic incentives.

If you can pay rent, a landlord should not be allowed to refuse you, because the reasons that they are going to find are almost definitely going to be horrible. There needs to be some sort of real-estate death penalty for any building owner or realtor who gets caught colluding to blacklist tenants.

This isn't even a radically left-wing viewpoint, FFS.
posted by schmod at 10:17 AM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


The tenant blacklist exists - if you are a party in a lawsuit. If the landlord had sued your friend they would be on it. It seems like they didn't - so they aren't.

http://gothamist.com/2014/10/17/tenant_blacklist_nyc.php
posted by goneill at 10:19 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Y'know, I've heard rumors of this "tenant blacklist," but I had friends who went on an 8-month rent strike and finally just moved out - and not only did they have no problem finding another apartment, they also talked to a legal aid volunteer, who not only didn't warn them about such a blacklist, he even off-the-record said that they could stiff their old scofflaw landlord "because you have a common name and there's no way he could easily find you".

Wait, are these the same friends from before or do you have multiple friends who launched lengthy rent strikes and got this advice from legal aid?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


So I've got my doubts that such a blacklist exists

i mean i guess it would be totally impossible to google for something like that right
posted by poffin boffin at 10:21 AM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's extremely unlikely you would end up on any sort of blacklist for this scam.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:25 AM on December 22, 2015


you should go back in time and let those kids know that
posted by Greg Nog at 10:27 AM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Wait, are these the same friends from before or do you have multiple friends who launched lengthy rent strikes and got this advice from legal aid?

Same friends.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on December 22, 2015


I don't know, I've lived in NYC for 13 years and that's common sense.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:28 AM on December 22, 2015


Same friends.

Cool, thanks! I just wasn't sure if rent strikes were super common in New York. I feel like I've always been advised that, no matter what, you keep paying your rent.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:31 AM on December 22, 2015


I received a letter from my landlord a few years ago saying that our timely rent-paying was going to be added to credit scoring (or however you would phrase that) so it's definitely a thing that exists.

To even get this apartment I had to have a good credit score (this is definitely common) and I had to show a year's worth of back bank statements proving that I paid my rent on time, in addition to a bunch of other things.

In NYC it is illegal to deny a job to someone based on their credit score. I know this because there is an ad on the 23rd Street C subway platform.

But this whole credit score thing does seem to be getting out of control.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2015


if your name appears in an NYC housing court filing for any reason then your name will appear on the tenant blacklist.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:34 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


You have to accept some tradeoffs to live in a cool neighborhood. Sure, they had no walls, but they were only a few blocks from the Mast Brothers chocolate factory.
posted by neroli at 10:35 AM on December 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


if your name appears in an NYC housing court filing for any reason then your name will appear on the tenant blacklist.

This is neither true nor automatic.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


There is also the issue of people, especially young people, moving to NYC and getting scammed by landlords because they just don't know any better, or they've heard horror stories and think you NEED to pay $6k a month for substandard housing.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


if your name appears in an NYC housing court filing for any reason then your name will appear on the tenant blacklist.

The very first on the page you LMGTFY'd on me stated that the city was putting a stop to that as of January 2015.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So it looks like these kids could have been saved if they'd simply taken a January 2015 law back to August of 2013, then previously lived in New York for thirteen years so they had enough common sense about housing to not get scammed by a slumlord. Kind of fucked up that they refused to take these very simple protective measures.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:40 AM on December 22, 2015 [48 favorites]


The very first on the page you LMGTFY'd on me stated that the city was putting a stop to that as of January 2015.

If they put a stop to it that means that it existed (and wasn't a bogeyman)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:41 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Again, there has never been an automatic tenant black list in New York that carried any kind of weight, and even if there were, backing out of a lease because the apartment was uninhabitable would not be subject to such a thing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:41 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


So basically the moral of the story is "Don't kickstart an apartment"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:44 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


From the NYT
The state Office of Court Administration, which operates New York’s court system, charges a $20,000 initial fee and $350 per week thereafter for a daily data feed of housing court cases. The seemingly innocuous list of index numbers identifies every new housing court matter and updates existing ones. The feed used to include tenants’ names and addresses as well, but after years of complaints and negotiations, housing advocates and politicians thought they had won a victory when, in 2012, the Office of Court Administration began scrubbing that information.

But just as some Wall Street banks find ways to stay a step ahead of regulators, so, too, have companies that sell tenant names to landlords found a way around this hurdle. Under state law, housing court records are public, so the companies have taken to hiring people like Carolyn to spend hours plugging the index numbers on the court system’s data feed into the electronic case files to find the corresponding names and addresses. The resulting list can include anyone who was in court records, whether because they failed to pay rent, withheld it to force a landlord to make repairs, broke the terms of a lease, or as a result of a landlord’s error.

Companies that compile the information for landlords “have an extra step now, and it costs them a bit more, but the result is still the same,” [...]

Andres E. Correa wound up on one of the lists. Mr. Correa had been living in an illegal sublet for several years when the landlord sued the tenant whose name was on the lease to evict him, and also sued Mr. Correa. After hiring a lawyer, Mr. Correa, who said he was unaware the sublet was illegal, struck a deal with the landlord: In the court case, Mr. Correa would be identified only as Andres Doe. When the case was settled, however, Mr. Correa’s name was recorded in the court records and then picked up by a tenant-screening company.

“It has been a nightmare,” said Mr. Correa, adding that he had been unable to sign a lease and had moved eight times in the past two years. Eventually, he hired James B. Fishman, a lawyer who has brought two class actions against screening firms, to help him clear his name.

Nearly all landlords, whether small-time or with thousands of units, perform background checks on prospective tenants. Numerous screening companies offer those who hire them various options to choose from, such as criminal records, watch lists for sexual offenders and eviction histories. Typically, the housing court information notes whether a tenant has been sued, the type of case, the amount of rent the landlord claimed and the outcome.

[...]

Most tenants do not realize that housing court information can be used against them, said Judge Fern A. Fisher, who, as the deputy chief administrative judge for New York City Courts, oversees housing court. “I don’t think most people are aware that companies have access to what happens in housing court. They should, but I think more people are concerned with keeping a roof over their heads.”

Even winning a case may not keep someone off a bad-tenant list. If a tenant withholds rent to force a landlord to make repairs and the judge ultimately sides with the tenant, the only thing that shows up on a screening report is that there was a money judgment against the tenant for the remaining rent owed. Some tenants may even find themselves on a list mistakenly because their name is a common one.

posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:47 AM on December 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Mod note: A few comments deleted. Maybe we can drop the "I doubt there's a blacklist" thing; doesn't seem like there's any movement here and if folks still doubt it, that's fine, but let's not go another five rounds on it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:57 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


So it looks like these kids could have been saved if they'd simply taken a January 2015 law back to August of 2013, then previously lived in New York for thirteen years so they had enough common sense about housing to not get scammed by a slumlord.

It does seem like a real issue that people get scammed because they don't know any better, especially since so many new people move to NYC every day and NYC housing horror stories are so common. I think it means more needs to be done to protect these people, not that these people should know better.

Every time I see an article about average rent in some borough, for example, it seems like it just means that landlords can now get away with charging that rent for whatever crap they have on hand.
posted by maggiemaggie at 11:10 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


The part I'm most curious about is "The Buildings Department says it is looking into how the structure got a certificate of occupancy". I'm guessing there's bribes involved.
posted by Nelson at 11:23 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this is an end result of what happens when scammy landlords, a housing shortage, and naive first-time renters come together. It's easy to get scammed when you're new to renting and/or new to a city like New York. And I don't think there's any excuse for landlords to take advantage of other people's naivete anyway. Just because the tenants didn't know any better and were afraid for their credit rating or winding up on some "blacklist" or another, doesn't excuse the landlords.

And soren_lorensen is right that what often happens is that if the building fails housing inspection, the tenants are out on the street, and might be even worse off if they can't find another place. I remember that happening to a couple of people in San Francisco back in the early 90's. Slumlords need to be held to account, but tenants affected can't be just left to shift for themselves.

From reading the story, it looks like one of the housemates was soured on New York and left the city entirely after his experience. I can't say I blame him - what an introduction to Life In The Big City.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:32 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. Maybe we can drop the "I doubt there's a blacklist" thing; doesn't seem like there's any movement here and if folks still doubt it, that's fine, but let's not go another five rounds on it.]

This argument is why people should never take legal advice from people on the internet. Ask any tenant attorney in NYC if there's a blacklist. Of course there's a blacklist.

Signed,
Mavri, a tenant attorney
posted by Mavri at 11:32 AM on December 22, 2015 [28 favorites]


Why in the blue blazes did they keep paying this guy his rent???

I dunno. I lived in an ultra shitty place where the ceilings and walls leaked and I battled bedbugs constantly for about 3 years.

I couldn't really afford to rent anywhere else, but the bigger thing was the landlord kept insisting they'd 'fix' things. They did, for 2-3 months at a time. Then the bugs were back, the ceiling was leaking again. All of their fixes were temporary patch-overs. And yeah I stayed with it for too long but, like the woman in the article, I guess I just had too much faith in people being, you know, decent.

Anyway every time I threatened rent escrow they'd 'fix' things again and technically by law where I lived I couldn't file for rent escrow anymore until the problem came up again so I didn't have much recourse. That said when I finally got settled to move out they tried to tell me I couldn't break my lease until I told them I was gonna call a fucking building inspector. They changed their tune real fast after that (they even brought the Big Boss out of his office to appease me).

I guess my point is, I get why this happened to some degree, and landlords can be pretty awful people.
posted by suddenly, and without warning, at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


In Los Angeles, within the first couple months their rent would have been gone into escrow account at the LAHD. Are people so scared of their landlords in NY they'd put up with this?

I once lived in an 660 unit apartment complex in the Woodland Hills part of LA in the mid 2000's. I can't remember the exact issue, but I guess the apartments had hot water heaters that were once up to code, but at some point the rules changed and they were no longer in compliance.

I found about the code issue because the LAHD (Los Angeles Housing Department) sent me (and every other tenant) a notice that explained the issue, and told me if the landlord didn't take care of it within some period like 30 days, I wouldn't have to pay rent until it was fixed. They also setup a public meeting that week for everyone to come in and complain. All 660 units were fixed that weekend.

How many bribes does one have to take to allow an entire "luxury" 5-story building to be so condemned that its residents have to move out in an hour?

It's probably the other way around. The bribes kept the housing inspector from redtagging the building and forcing everyone out within the hour.
posted by sideshow at 12:02 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a question about NYC- where do poor people live? Where do lower-middle class social workers and pre-school teachers live? I have heard all these awful stories and jaw dropping prices, but the only options can't be unfinished luxury apartments. Can't you live a few subway stops away from the cool part of town? I'm sure 4 friends with that kind of money at 23 could find a great place in a different neighborhood, they'd just have to take a cab to brunch. AM I completely wrong?
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:25 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Holman says one building inspector who showed up told them that if he wrote down the actual conditions in the apartment, particularly the room without a window, everyone would have to evacuate immediately. They told him to hold off.
That guy. That guy right there, that's the inspector who was taking money from the landlord, wasn't it? I'm pretty bad at seeing corruption at work, but knowing how the story ends here it seems to be jumping off the page at me.
posted by mcrandello at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a question about NYC- where do poor people live?

a very very general answer to this is at the very end of the subway lines and places you can only get to by bus after getting off the subway at the end of the line.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:45 PM on December 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Well, "Where do poor people live" and "Where would you live if you had $6000 that wasn't an unfinished luxury apartment" are kind of two separate questions.

If you're living in NYC and you're poor, you're looking at a bad neighborhood and a long commute into Manhattan -- like, Brownsville, East New York, if you're in Brooklyn. And not an unfinished luxury apartment but a badly maintained apartment, or a badly maintained housing project. You live with roommates. You live with your parents for as long as you can stand, if your parents live in New York. Or you live outside the city and you spend two hours on the train every day. I'm not poor but I decided to live by myself because it's really hard to try to write a novel when you spend 75% of your at-home time listening to your roommate's loud personal phone calls or your roommate having sex, and in my last apartment I'd often try to take a shower and just have a little trickle of lukewarm water come out, and... I just couldn't spend all my time and my energy trying to lean on the landlord or the super for some kind of temporary incremental improvement.

It looks like you can find a pretty nice 4-bedroom in okay-to-good areas of Brooklyn for around $4500-5000, though, just poking around on Craigslist.
posted by Jeanne at 12:46 PM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


It looks like you can find a pretty nice 4-bedroom in okay-to-good areas of Brooklyn for around $4500-5000, though, just poking around on Craigslist.



This is sort of what I meant. I had assumed roommates, I had assumed way more than I can or would pay here in Seattle (although thats not getting any better) but I didn't think it was a housing emergency, just that you have to put in more time/effort than in a less intense market.

This article seems awful mind you, and those kids were definitely scammed, I just thought that with that kind of money they could have found a place with, y'know, walls.
posted by kittensofthenight at 12:52 PM on December 22, 2015


I can kind of understand the appeal of a new construction building, though, even if you do have other options. I've lived in vintage apartments and owned a vintage house and much prefer the character of a vintage home. (In Chicago, not NYC.)

But I'm currently renting a fairly new characterless ~9 year old condo-turned-apartment building, for a lot of reasons. Because the rooms are big enough to fit a queen size bed WITH bedside tables. And the layout is better and ok yeah I really like the huge walk-in shower with the bench seat. In-unit washer and dryer is a pretty great luxury. The kitchen appliances are new and functional and not covered in 30 years of grime. I figure at least the drains won't be half clogged all the time and the windows aren't single-pane with broken counter weights.

And my building's only a 4-story walk-up, so it doesn't even have the whole building amenities the people in this article were promised. I can for sure see that being appealing enough, especially to young people new to a big city, to hope that the construction completion promises were true. Add that to a lack of knowledge about what their options are and fear about consequences and the hassle of finding apartments in NYC, I have a lot of sympathy for them.

Unfortunately, even new construction doesn't mean (and sure seems like is often contraindicated with) GOOD construction. So the tile on the edge of the fancy shower is falling off and the back patio doors leak if a hard rain is hitting it from that side and we have to use rope caulk to seal off all the drafts from the front patio doors or our heat will run full time in the winter... Our two-year lease doesn't end until 2017 but even then we'll strongly consider staying, assuming the rent doesn't skyrocket. I mean yeah we have walls so it's not the same as the article, but our stairwells didn't have power (read: lights) for the last 4 days and as much as I'd like to raise hell about it, I'm afraid of ticking off the management company and eventually losing a place in a good location that we can afford.
posted by misskaz at 1:50 PM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


One thing to keep in mind with NY real estate is how fast property value is increasing. For a renter there is a huge incentive to stay in a place for as long as possible, because the amount your rent goes up after one year in the same place is probably a quarter of how much rent in GENERAL has gone up that year.
Basically - if there is ANY chance that your apartment might BECOME livable in the future, it's economically worth it to stay.
posted by 235w103 at 4:08 PM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have a strong desire to blame the victim here.
posted by BentFranklin at 5:18 PM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


The New York of 2015 is evidently still dealing with the same shit as the New York of 1985, but with higher rent.

More like 1885.

I lived in NYC for 17 years and I knew well enough to never, ever live in new construction. $1500 a month to have 3 roommates and have to squeeze onto the L train at Bedford every morning? No, no, and no. It's a cliche to say that New York separates the naive from the savvy, but...
posted by Automocar at 5:37 PM on December 22, 2015


Heh. My first apartment in NYC was a roach/rat cycle apartment. It was in Washington Heights. We'd have roaches for a while. To the point that I thought nothing of killing them with my bare hands or feet. But eventually the rats would arrive to feast upon the roaches. So the roaches would dwindle. But the rats would run around either over our heads in the ceiling or under the floor.

One of my most wonderful memories was the sound of rats running around in the ceiling and hitting pipes in the dark.

::skitter skitter skitter DING!::

::skitter skitter DING!::

Then part of the ceiling that was just over our bed was soaked with water. And so the plaster fell down. It was because of the radiator in the apartment above us.

We moved the bed. But occasionally a rat would fall out of the ceiling and end up in our bedroom.

I started sleeping with a machete next to me in bed. My wife at the time slept with a knife under her pillow.

I would have nightmares about being attacked by rats. It wasn't far from true.

Our cat once left us a half dead rat under the carpet near our kitchen sink.

If it wasn't for our cat I would have gone insane. Seriously.
posted by Splunge at 8:26 PM on December 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


To all the people tsk tsking at these kids: how fortunate that none of us ever made any mistakes when we were young!

I can sort of imagine the scenario that led to them renting this place: take a time crunch of looking for a place to live in a city you don't already live in, add a crazy rental market, and stir in some youthful misjudgment, and voila.
posted by lunasol at 8:53 PM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have a question about NYC- where do poor people live?

All my friends live in places out in queens or brooklyn that are on the fringes of, but not actually in the "cool" areas. At least you can still walk to the train though. They also put up with some serious sketchiness like smashed up walls or other weirdness for the most part. Some of them have(although still pretty decent sized) bedrooms with no windows.

That, or you luck out on a place that's a good deal and just never fucking move until you're forced to somehow. And you end up putting up with some stupid. Stupid neighbors, stupid maintenance, stupid condition of the place, etc.

None of their places are rat and roach holes, but the(admittedly generously sized) place i stayed at with friends this summer had a bar downstairs that had INCREDIBLY FUCKING LOUD shows and DJs until very, very late... most nights of the week. The floor would vibrate like something from rockos modern life. And the bedrooms had glass pocket doors with curtains behind them instead of normal doors. Also, like half the in-ceiling lights didn't work properly even though the bulbs were fine(busted dimmer switches, etc). Shit like that.

I have friends with modest incomes who have nicer places, but they all found them through a friend of a friend, or a friends parent and their uncle is the landlord, or something.(or through work/a coworker). It seems like you either put up with a lot of shit, or you know someone.
posted by emptythought at 11:10 PM on December 22, 2015


I don't blame the kids, they're naïve and don't know any better. I blame the Dad who let his daughter move in and stay there. That's what parents are for, to knock some sense into you, "Hell NO! You're not moving into a building that's under fucking construction. You all there...you too. Sweetie, you couch surf with your sister, you other kids, grab your shit. You're getting outta this dump, and now."

THAT'S what I expected to happen.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:28 AM on December 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


She probably hipstersplained how walls were over and that this was an artisanal building crafted in the bespoke tradition.

As a parent, you have to know when to cut your losses.
posted by dr_dank at 4:43 AM on December 24, 2015


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