|Williamsburg, Brooklyn by Juan Beltran via Flickr|
It wasn’t until the third time I woke up from the sound of mice running across my floor that I realized I desperately needed to get out of my NYC apartment. If you read the story about my move-in date (which happened during Hurricane Sandy, thank you very much) you know that I live in Williamsburg, in a loft that I thought was great – thought being the operative word.
After I moved in, things quickly started to go downhill. Contractors came over unannounced, or wouldn’t show up at all, and it took several weeks to get small changes addressed. The cable we were supposed to have was never actually installed, and we had exposed wiring and no lighting in our kitchen for about six weeks.
I know --- I probably should have realized it wasn’t a great place at this point, but I was still trying to give my landlord the benefit of the doubt. The place had just been refinished, the price wasn’t terrible, and the location was great (on Broadway, a block from the Williamsburg Bridge and a block from the Marcy Ave. subway). Plus, we have a private rooftop, and I had grand illusions of creating a mini-oasis, adding an outdoor fire pit, hammock, and even a trampoline. Never mind that my lease would be over before the weather was warm, or that there was no feasible way to get a trampoline on the roof. I had an imaginary plan.
|I had a vision for my rooftop deck-- by Ann Rafalko via Flickr|
But the plan went downhill quickly, and in mid-December, our landlord stopped responding to us. No emails, no texts, no replies, nothing. This was also the same time the heat went off --- and stayed off for two weeks. We called. We emailed. We reported it to 311, (a NYC service that I’m not convinced has any purpose other than placating hot-headed tenants).
Unfortunately, I think the mice decided it was chilly, too. And although I can’t blame them for trying to stay warm, it was certainly unpleasant to find mouse droppings in my bed, or literally pull towels off shelves and have mice scramble out from between the folds, their little bodies flying through the air as I yelped and jumped higher than I’m embarrassed to admit.
|Mice are not this cute--trust me! --by Harlequeen via Flickr|
So mid-December, I went to find another place to live. I came across a new building, with a lovely three-bedroom apartment available. I filled out the application, selected a move-in date of February 1, and put down $4,500 as a holding fee --- a concept very difficult for non-New Yorkers to grasp. If I hadn't written that check, someone else would have snatched the apartment in a New York minute.
It’s now January 31, and I haven’t heard anything back about my check or the apartment. The building was responsive, although it took them several weeks to get me the materials I needed to finish the application process. I was understanding, as the owner is Jewish, and the process started right around Hanukkah. Plus, the realtor and I went to the same college, so I assumed we had somehow bonded over the 99-cent cup of coffee she bought me as we discussed the rental process, as well as the best bars to sneak into as 19-year-old undergraduates.
|Best friends for life unless one becomes a NYC realtor, of course.--by Jolante via Flick|
However, as soon as I made it clear I was displeased with their delays, the communication stopped. This was three weeks ago, despite the fact that New York State law only gives one week for an apartment approval to be accepted or rejected. My receipt of the holding fee is dated December 13, 2012. And unless the mouse droppings are affecting my ability to read calendars, I’m pretty sure they are well beyond their deadline.
There are a lot of things I really love about living in New York, which is why I’m sticking it out and hoping things fall into place. I know getting my money back will be a long process, but I can’t blame the city for why it’ll take so long in court. There are more pressing issues to prosecute, everything from grand theft auto to gang violence to the fact that Lindsay Lohan apparently went shopping in SoHo when she’s supposed to be sick – a clear scandal.
|Scandalous Lindsay--by Ashley Cooper via Flickr|
But it's a little frustrating to know that others like me --- young, gainfully employed, new-to-the-city people with no parents to act as guarantors --- often fall through the cracks when it comes to housing. It’s one side of New York City that everyone seems to accept, and I can’t figure out why. I suspect it’s likely a contributing factor to the fact that New York City is losing its middle-income residents, or those who earn between $45,000 and $134,000, (but by lifestyle, technically to afford to reside in Manhattan, that income should fall between $85,000 and $235,000) as observed recently in the New York Times. I guess I'm just another statistic in that income bracket.
|I love NY and I'm sticking it out.--by skillicorn via Flickr|
There’s more to the story to come, but for now, it’s back to scouring Craigslist. Suggestions very welcome below in the comments.