Only in New York

Only in New York: When mom-and-pop landlords meddle more than your real mom and pop

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When I first came to New York 2009, I rented a studio apartment in Auberndale, Queens, that I found on Craigslist for $750 per month. Well, actually it was the basement of a house belonging to this older couple from the old country and by old country I mean Greece.

They thought it was just ever-so-sweet that a Greek Australian comedian was going to be their tenant. It wasn't.

Being a landlord myself (I own an apartment in Perth, Australia), I would say that I'm a landlord's dream. I'm extremely clean, efficient and respectful of where I'm living. I don't smoke, drink or have really crazy loud parties.

On my second night, the cheap, wood paneled walls began to snap, crackle and pop whenever the boiler would kick in. When I notified my landlords about it, they told me that it was nothing to worry about, it's just the boiler and the steam and that eventually, I'll get so used to it, it'll put me to sleep. Really?

Soon they started to treat me like I was their 10-year-old son. Once when I was on the phone at night talking to a lovely lady, my landlord came running down the stairs like he was possessed and started yelling at me for being so loud. I was barely whispering!

He told me that it was 11 p.m. and that I should be in bed. Did I mention I'm a fully grown man?

It didn't stop there. When I leave to go on the road for shows, I'd come back and see that they had rearranged my apartment.

They'd have new towels hanging on the racks in the bathroom, the bed would be made, new furniture would miraculously appear while other pieces of furniture would disappear. Now I know how The Three Bears felt. 

Sometimes they'd clean, which was a nice gesture, but they never asked me first!

Another time I had a friend stay over--a Greek Aussie buddy who was also now living in the U.S. permanently.

I woke up to the sound of my landlord's yelling and screaming and banging on the door. At first, I thought that some psycho was trying to break in, or maybe the building was on fire and he was desperately trying to rescue me and my friend. But no. I think maybe he was afraid we were going to engage in homosexual activities. (Did I mention that he was a bit homophobic, too?)

FYI, my friend is married to a beautiful woman and has three gorgeous kids.

I had been putting up with this for about a year when another friend visited me. My landlords came downstairs to reprimand me like I was a misbehaving child because I didn't ask them. That was the last straw.

This time I yelled at them (in Greek) like they were the children and told them to bugger off and leave me the hell alone. And decided to move out.

Best thing I ever did!

I moved into wonderful apartment complex shortly thereafter. When I was looking for a new place, I encountered several landlords who started laying down ground rules like what time I should be in bed so I don't disturb anybody. Taking a shower too late at night was not permitted. As soon as they asked me if I'd like to see the rest of the place, I was already out the door!

Finally, I found a place and I'm extremely happy. The landlord (Greek again) is wonderful and has a very clear understanding about privacy, boundaries and respect. In fact, these two words attracted me to this place more than anything else: "Absentee Landlord."

I found out later that that my nosey old landlords rented the upstairs where they were living and ended up living in the basement where I was.

Revenge + Karma = very sweet.

Also, Tragedy + Time = Comedy. 


No New York City dinner party would be complete without tales of real estate/city living horror stories. Only in New York recounts these only-in-New-York experiences.

Related posts:

How an UES Peeping Tom sent me back to Hell's Kitchen

The building that loves you long time

"My condo was corrupt"

Everything you need to know about NYC landlords

The ups and downs of renting from a mom-and-pop landlord


 

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