Thursday, May 15, 2008

Landlords from Hell

I don't spend time on this blog talking about the horrors of the landlord situation here. But I sure spend a lot of time in real life talking about it, and thinking about it, and calling 311 to complaint about it. Every day I think I will delete the photos of my bathtub because I am TERRIFIED that the landlord will see it and use it to take me to court to try for an eviction. I cannot stress how serious this is.

There was an excellent article about our landlord, and some of their friends, in the New York Times and also on the radio on the Brian Lehrer show. If you live in a rental apartment, or care about affordable housing in New York I urge you to read this and take it very seriously. 28% of the units in my small building have been vacated in the past 6 months using these nasty tactics. The natural turnover of rental units is 5%.

My neighbor was evicted (but then won in court so he's now unevicted). Many people do win in court, but so many are intimidated and move, scared. Also, most working people just don't have the time to go to court continuously. Many people could lose their jobs if they don't show up for work, or be docked much needed pay.

I heard about a recent happiness study done at NYU (also the largest land owner in New York, but that is yet another rant) that showed that conservatives who are not so concerned with fairness and equality are happier than liberals who spend a lot of mental energy worrying about things being fair. It's not that the conservatives are evil, they just think that some people (like themselves) have great opportunities and it's not their business or problem when other people maybe don't have it as well. They just don't spend a lot of time worrying or caring about the plight of others, which makes them happier people.

I am obsessed with fairness. I always have been. So it explains so much about my continual frustration with these landlords (the rich getting richer) who conspicuously violate the rules (ie continuing to do construction despite a Stop Work Order posted by the Dept of Buildings; working after 6:00 when they are not supposed to, lying about whether they received rent checks etc) and there are no penalties or any downside for them to stop the behavior. Yet they make up fake reasons to take their tenants to court to ensure that everyone is within an inch of the law, protecting their own legal rights as landlords even if they have no evidence or proof to justify their lawsuit. They throw thousands of people's lives into turmoil, hauling them into court, or turning off heat or water, because they can. It's their job to go to court. It's not our job to go to court, though. And it's scary to be threatened, even if you are 100% sure that you are right, and they can't evict you, it is intimidating.

Recent anti-harassment laws have been passed to target landlords and they are now being tested in court. In the meantime they continue their nefarious and calculated methods to make people's lives miserable.

Food and shelter, basic human rights? Not in New York. With the price of a bagel over $1 and a 400 square foot apartment over $3000 we are going backwards in human rights. Luckily I have given up carbs. Now I have to figure out how to give up a roof over my head.

1 comment:

Ev Grieve said...

Two of my best friends in the East Village are dealing with landlords trying to toss them out of their respective buildings. To no surprise, they both pay less than $1,200 for nice 1BR apartments. The renovations will happen so the moneygrubbers can charge $3,200 (or more, likely) for the same space. Sometimes I just don't understand who's going to be left here to afford the rents. (Well, I have a good idea, but it makes me shudder...)