- SLUM LORDS
When I lived in my last apartment building in Washington Heights, the owner of the building wasn't exactly an angel but he was a fair guy. Any major issues were usually addressed in a timely matter.
There was one time I had asked about him possibly cutting me a break on a bigger apartment in the building since I was such a good, quiet tenant who paid my rent on time each month. He kinda laughed and said something to the effect of, "How am I gunna pay my porsche bills if I let that happen."
I laughed at it too because it was funny. But then I realized, man what a prick some rich people are.
This leads me to today.
My new apartment in Carrol Gardens Brooklyn is pretty fantastic overall. I have a nice sized one bedroom with actual sunlight as compared to my old studio which faced concrete walls on both sides. I was given the apartment by a friend who moved to California. The rent is stabilized and under $900, almost unheard of for an apartment anywhere in NYC. The area is great, streets teeming with restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops.
The landlord (a husband and wife tag team) however leave something to be desired. Apparently they are the Kings of Carrol Gardens and have been buying up the Red Hook area like crazy. I don't know how many buildings they own but I've heard its quite a few. So a small 8 unit building where I live causes them little concern. They do the absolute bare minimum needed to maintain it. The halls are rarely clean, the basement is disgusting and usually soggy and wet. The front of the building hasn't been cleaned since the Eisenhower administration. It is the black sheep on the block as far as buildings go. I call it a tenement slum but maybe that's exaggerating a bit. No actually its not. They would NEVER spend an extra dime to make the apartment look presentable, we tenants have to do it ourselves (my upstairs neighbor bought and planted tulips for the front yard).
We do have nice exposed brick walls and decent hard wood floors inside. Oh and we do have new windows. YIPPEEE!
The bathroom sink and the bathtub both have a lot of rust. I replaced some stuff without being reimbursed, of course. I was actually laughed at when I asked if they would pay for a new door and lock because the one I was left with is old, jiggly, and doesn't always work right....like your grandma's butt.
When I moved here in December, the kitchen sink was not working properly. I called 4-5 times and the problem still hasn't been fixed. They didn't want to paint my place and encouraged me to do it (legally they must every 5 years or when a tenant moves out, or some rule like that). So I painted it with the help of a friend and then deducted the painting supplies out of my first months rent. Fine no big deal.
Ok, so today. To preface this, about 3 weeks ago the weather was ridiculously warm and yes I realize how nice it had been outside. So the landlord shut the heat off. But over the past week or so it has cooled down considerably and I have spent several evenings freeeeeezzzzzzing and resorted to turning my oven on for warmth. One night I was wrapped in two blankets in bed and was still cold.
Sorry but that just seems ridiculous to me. We aren't living in the depression here. Its 2005 and I don't think its right.
So I called and asked for the heat to be put back on at least for the evening/early morning hours. The first person I spoke with at the office was pleasant enough and said she would talk to the owners. I got a call from the owner of the building (the wife) and she basically began a tirade by yelling at me. It was as if I asked for them to install hot tubs in everyone's apartment.
She told me to tough it out. "Put on a sweater and turn your oven on." Is that a good idea that a landlord suggests to their tenant that they should be putting their oven on? Did she not read about the 3 young boys that died last week because they left the oven on all night? That was due to religious reasons but still.
I was yelling back at her so loud that a coworker came to my desk to inform me that they could hear me down the hall. I was pissed though. She complained about how much oil costs and of course reminded me how little I pay for rent.
I reminded her that they own half of Brooklyn and make a lot of money.
That set her off. She completely flipped out and started yelling to her office about what I just said. She told me I had no clue and that they reinvest in the community so people could have jobs. She screamed at me how she and her husband don't drive around in a porsche or Mercedes. Whe was seriously offended by my comment. And then she asked me, "Why does my husband wear overalls if we have so much money."
What kind of question is that? Rich people can't wear overalls? Is this woman trying to tell me that the she and her husband who are worth millions of dollars cannot afford to buy the man a pair of dockers if he so desired? They must own 20 something buildings and are planning to install a major supermarket in the Red Hook area. I do not think that they are struggling to put food in the mouths of their children.
What is wrong with people. Seriously though. Damn this was a long post, sorry. Its just a bit longer..
So she got so worked up that she told me she can't talk to me anymore. She then HUNG UP THE PHONE on me. Wow! My landlord so upset that she hung up the phone. BTW I hate when people hang up the phone, its very immature and pisses me off.
Ok so last part. I wrote this letter to her and I want to mail it but haven't decided yet. Should I? I have a 2 year signed lease and regardless of that I don't think you can evict someone on the basis of being mad at them. If they do I'll go Michael Keaton in Pacific Heights on them.
Friday, April 29, 2005
Dear Landlord (I'm leaving her name out)
First, I apologize if I upset you so much that you had to hang up the phone on me. I don't ever hang up on someone myself so I realize you must have been upset.
I would like to mention though, that every single time I have called with an issue, you make sure of emphasizing the amount of rent I pay.
Does this mean that my concerns or issues are less important than those who pay 200 dollars a month more? It belittles me and makes me feel like I am less of a tenant when you mention it every time. If you want to talk about hurting one's feelings think about when you say that to me.
That is what led me to make the statement about how much money you make. You nitpick me on every issue I've raised from possibly changing the rusted out sink in my bathroom to placing a door handle that works well (which you actually laughed at).
I would think you could be concerned that a tenant called you claiming he/she had been very cold the past few weeks. Instead of showing your concern you actually started YELLING at me and telling me to tough it out, like we are living in the depression of the 1930s.
Also, the weather is not supposed to go above 60 for the next week and that means it will be 50 or less at night. Not exactly summertime weather.
I really don't care anymore about the heat, leave it off. But you should not treat a tenant with such contempt and I needed to speak my piece.