Slum Definition: any squalid, run-down place to live.
Last night, I stayed up until the wee hours feeding social media and FashionBombDaily.com
with updates from the American Music Awards. Fashion Goddess and the night’s host Jennifer Lopez decided to have about a dozen outfit changes, and you know me: I had to oblige y’all with the info! I settled into my bed at around 4am, and told myself that I’d sleep in until 10, because heck! I deserve it! I would’ve slept soundly, and perhaps even given myself until 10:30, had it not been for the sound of drilling on my wall at 9am.
The construction next door started a few weeks ago, and consists of earth shaking, picture shattering, drilling on my walls starting every day at 9am on the DOT. As someone who works from home, takes calls throughout the day, and writes for a living, the sound of a cement mixer in the background is not ideal. My landlord undoubtedly knew about this construction before I moved in, but didn’t tell me until I had been locked into a 2 year lease. This is just one of the many reasons why I’ve deduced that my landlord is in fact a slumlord.
The issues I’ve dealt with since moving in last January have been innumerable. From the lack of heat in the building during last year’s frigid winter, to leaks ruining TWO of my expensive gold accented cowhide rugs, to neighbors leaving trash in the hallway, playing guitars and singing loudly, ringing my bell 5 times a week because they always forget their key (and telling their friends to do the same), I mean…. sometimes I wonder if this is real life.
When I first moved to New York, I stayed at a friend’s apartment in their spare room, and then moved on to inhabit a shared space smaller than most closets. Then, like most beginning creatives, I lived with about 5 roommates before finding what’s probably the tiniest studio ever in Brooklyn.
I stayed in that tiny studio for almost 7 years before moving into this duplex with a feeling of: Mama I made It! It has two floors, a golden staircase, and I have a room for my clothes.
New York is perhaps one of the few cities in the world where you don’t get what you pay for. I’ve never paid more in rent, but I’ve also never had more persistent issues with plumbing, neighbors, noise, or construction. Silly me for assuming your home would be heated in the winter! Or that I could write without hearing my neighbors breakdance and drag furniture over my head. But instead of filling this post with complaints, I’m going to offer five things EVERYONE moving into a new place should consider before they sign that lease.
1. Ask the former tenants why they’re moving.
I remember visiting my apartment before moving in and seeing these two very hip guys sitting silently as I did my tour. One of them did warn me about the plumbing, but the man showing the apartment assured me it was going to be fixed (lies). In retrospect, I wish I had asked them more questions. Like…why are you leaving this BOMB place? Most New Yorkers stay somewhere if they find a gem. Sometimes if it seems too good to be true, it is.
2. Are utilities included?
This is definitely a no brainer, but I’m an idiot. I’m used to having those old New York City apartments with radiators that make your house feel like you’re in the Serengeti. This place has electric wall heaters–that don’t even get that hot! I basically have to keep them on day and night, which equates to quite the hefty electric bill every winter. NO BUENO.
3. Will there be construction during the lease term?
I’m sure my landlord and the building next door knew there would be construction starting 11 months into my lease. Of course they won’t tell you that beforehand! So ask.
4. Talk to neighbors on other floors to get a sense of how quiet/loud the building is.
I thought I was the only one who didn’t appreciate the loud renditions of Nirvana (set to the tune of an acoustic guitar) my neighbor’s son plays at 11pm at night. One evening I’d had enough, and was just about to go and knock on their door…when I peeped a neighbor from the floor above go down and do it herself. You’re usually not the only one annoyed by a particular tenant. Ask around.
5. Find out terms to terminate the lease.
After all I’ve invested in this space, and how much energy I’ve put into moving, I can’t think about uprooting right now. But if these conditions persist, I’ll get ta steppin. Find out how easy it is to break your lease should you choose to do so for any reason!
I actually only plan on staying in NYC for another year, so I’ll probably tough it out until the end of my lease, despite my complaints. But after this, BOY. I am buying and/or moving somewhere where I don’t have to share walls with anyone!
New York City isn’t always so bad, and I’ve actually never experienced anything like this before, which is why I never thought to ask the above questions before moving in. Through this situation, I’ve learned: don’t assume anything. Ask questions. And don’t rush. Your home is where you should have peace of mind, so choose wisely.
Do you guys have any housing horror stories?
What sort of recourse do I have in this situation?
Leave a comment and let me know!
*The black dress I’m wearing in the main pic is from Houston’s Lux Monroe Boutique! Get it here.