Would You Rather?

Would you rather have: a hands-on landlord or an 'invisible' one?

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There are all types of landlords in the city, including those who know their tenants on a personal basis (perhaps they live in the building?) and those who are rarely heard from and never seen. We asked six New Yorkers which kind they prefer:

  • Hands off I’d take an absentee landlord over a hands-on landlord any day! I know the kind of renter I am: responsible, trustworthy, and clean. I don’t need to be babysat. I like to do my own thing, but I’m fully aware that this is not my property. So I’d rather not have somebody breathing down my neck, making me feel like a guest in my own home, though I rent. Stay away until I call you! - Derek, Harlem
  • Ship-shape rental My landlord is pretty cool. They lived in the building with us, and we interacted regularly. I’d even say we are friendly with each other. Then they became absentee landlords when they went on sabbatical for nearly a year. They gave us a key to their apartment and told us we could use their backyard and grill whenever we wanted. They just wanted to make sure everything was okay in the house and we were to email them if anything was the matter. They enlisted a good friend of theirs to be our point of contact. If anything needed repairs, we were to call her right away, since she was in Manhattan and better equipped to act quickly. They gave her instructions, like have the boiler inspected in the fall. She followed them, that was it. The things is, the house was in such good shape that there were hardly any issues. The roof was in tip top shape, as was the plumbing. And they had chosen their [other] tenants wisely.  - Julia, Hamilton Heights
  • Ignorant landlord is bliss Who wants to be bothered by a nosy landlord? For the most part, I just want to be left alone. And I don’t mind doing minor repairs myself. The shower in the apartment was crap, and needed to be de-calcified. I did that myself. I knew it was a simple task. The drawer in the kitchen sticks and the cabinet doors wobbled, too. It was an easy fix--I didn't need to have the landlord fix that for me.  One time there was a leak that I did have to call him for. He lives in Connecticut so he knows he can’t control what I do in the apartment. I painted a wall green. No problem, because he doesn’t know about it. I’ll paint it back before I move out. Live and let live, I say. - Gerald, Kips Bay
  • Present for pest control Of course nobody likes an intrusive landlord, but between having access to a landlord whenever necessary and having none at all, I’d take an intrusive landlord. An intrusive landlord always knows the state of their property. They know what needs repairs and regular maintenance. I lived [on one floor of] a total fixer-upper of a townhouse once. Next door was a wreck, which attracted vermin. We had mice in the house three times in the year and a half I was there. I’d email the landlord, and somebody from Orkin would show up with glue traps and sprays a few days later. What was needed, according to this guy, was a maintenance plan. They come check the premises periodically to make sure no mice are there or can get in. But our landlords were God knows where [abroad] and just didn’t have the time and inclination to do their research on a good maintenance plan.  - Aleesha, Harlem
  • Fair-weather landlords I’d normally say I’d like for my landlord to be absent and just leave us alone… but this winter was harsh and they were in Florida or something. We had problems with heating one time and I know that issue would have been resolved much more quickly if the landlord had been living in the same house, and experienced the same cold as we did. And also: he would have made sure the stoop was properly shoveled each morning before we had to leave for work. It was such a nuisance, making our ways down the steps, buried in snow. If they had been here, they would have made sure that was done on time. But because they weren’t, the guy they hired would sometimes make it around 8 a.m., sometimes 10 a.m., or sometimes just skip us altogether.  - Kristin, Chelsea
  • The den mother Our landlord was super needy. She was a single woman, running the place while her investment partner lived in California. And I guess most of her friends were there. She soon wanted us over for dinner, some brunches, and chats in the hallway. That was okay, but honestly, she was a bit of a grouch, too. She used the time we spent together to gossip about our other neighbors who weren’t there or complain about our footsteps being loud, and us having company over until late at night. She didn’t like it that out of town guests would arrive from the airport, or leave for the airport at odd hours. Well, then don’t have tenants or soundproof your house! I’m much happier to be in a big building that is well run--by an anonymous management company. -Alex, Upper West Side

Results: Absentee Landlord: 4, instrusive landlord: 2
Verdict: Privacy is bliss