The year is 1994, it’s springtime. Simone had an event in NYC, so Dad, Jess and I piled in the car and went to the City for the day. We’re driving in this crappy brown van we used to own, and all of a sudden it dies. We’re on the corner of 55th & 10th Ave. Jess and I are in the car, counting drug deals, pros*titutes, and pimps. We were somewhere in the double digits before Dad could get AAA to tow us to NJ.
Fast forward about 5 years. I’ve graduated from BYU, and I got this job in the City working at Happy Kids, And 1. Wendy and I decided to go apartment hunting together and found this place in the Village Voice (mistake #1!). It’s on the same corner we broke down on 5 years earlier, but it’s much cleaner. Not a single openly illegal act while we were there. So we went on a tour with Simon after work one night in December. I should’ve known there were problems when we were looking at the place with flashlights and candles (mistake #2).
So we looked at the place twice, trying to decide if it was worth the $2200 they wanted for it. The place was a floor-thru with a living room, one bedroom facing the street, one make-shift bedroom in the middle of the apartment, and an eat-in kitchen next to the bathroom in the back. We decided it would take 4 of us to make rent each month, so we built a 3rd “bedroom” off of the living room. And we moved in middle of December 1999.
As we’re signing the contract, the landlord, who we’ll call Dr. G-Satan, couldn’t get it all together. We had to put a provision in the contract for Wendy’s cat, Ka. For Dr. G-Satan to spell cat took us over 10 minutes of discussion. Then came time to hand over the money– 3 months security plus 1/2 month’s rent (since we moved in mid-month). Do the math– 3 x 2200= 6600 + 1100= 7700. IN CASH (mistake #3)! Yes no checks were acceptable, so we were going to ATMs for days trying to withdraw the monies from our out-of-state bank accounts. So we hand over the money, and he keeps miscounting, saying we’re short. So we lay it out into 77 piles of $100s. 3 hours later we have the apartment.
So it’s getting cold. The wind is whipping off of the Hudson River, right towards our living room. So we put up some plastic and tried to turn on the two heaters. It sounds like they come on, but no heat is felt. So we buy a few space heaters to supplement. When we open up the wall heaters, we find a fish tank pump. Dr. G-Satan and his cronies tucked the heater’s plug up inside and let the fish tank pump’s plug come down so it would sound like it works. No wonder we didn’t have heat!!
Needless to say, we were calling NYC each and every day which gave him thousands of dollars in fines. . . Still didn’t work. He refused to fix them, telling us that it is our fault so we have to pay $1500 for each heater to fix it.
Uh sure. . . whatever. NOT!
So we started withholding rent. Now if anyone who’s reading this needs to do this in the future– make sure you put the rent money in an escrow account before the day your rent is due. Don’t just not pay rent and have no documentation that you had money dedicated for rent. The judge won’t like that.
So we went to Housing Court and fought the big beast. The judge was appalled at his antics (heat was just one of the many) and ordered him to fix the heaters, and that we can leave whenever we want and receive all of our security back (he stipulated otherwise in the lease). The judge gave us her direct line and said, “If you give him 30 days notice before you move, and he withholds a single penny of your money without just cause, you are to call me immediately.”
We ended up leaving a few months later when he sent the lease renewal and he asked for $4000/month because “there are 4 of you and you can each pay $1000 per month to live in Manhattan.”
Yeah sure. . . in bedrooms that aren’t even legal bedrooms. Whatever dude.