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02 August 2008

I gave myself a headache yelling this morning. [More:]

Our fuckhead landlord raised our rent $200 a month at once, a 15% increase, from $1300 to $1500, starting in November. It's only the second increase in five years, but still. 15% at once? And he lives here for free with his mother. If only my salary went up 15% at once. (Even stretched over five years, the rent increases have now outpaced my union salary increases. Just when you thought you might get a little ahead.)

This is the same landlord who tried to charge us for fixing the lock on our front door that jammed because HE PUT THE CYLYINDER IN CROOKED. At least, that's what his friend said when he helped him FIX IT AGAIN last week, with Jon again climbing a three-story ladder to get in via the porch. Needless to say, we did not pay that bill.

We can afford the increase (sort of), and I know heating and water costs are up, but it galls me to pay it to them. The door is only the beginning. Our microwave is in the living room because it blows the fuse if it's in the kitchen. The closet doors fall on me. The inner back door blows open in any kind of wind, and we have to block it with a bookcase. For three years, I lived with a stove with no oven. The walls are cracking in several spots under the landlord's shitty paint job. None of the light fixtures will stay up. And his octogenerian mother hears "ghost water" (water running when it isn't) and once threatened to call the cops on me because I was doing dishes. The son is also constantly yelling at the mother (in English and Greek) and slamming doors. And then there are the mouse holes and mouse poop on top of the fridge. (There's more, but that'll do for now.)

The only thing that made it worth staying here, in addition to the nice porch, was that the rent was underpriced for the area. At $1300 a month, I could live with mice and the microwave in the living room, but at $1500, I don't know. Based on our previous research, I think we could get another place in Astoria for that. The real estate agent said so, too. It's a hassle to move, but it might be worth it, for sanity's sake. (As some of you may recall, they've also threatened to make us move a couple times before, for the "ghost water" or lock or whatever.)

I happen to think we're excellent tennants who always pay our rent on time, take good care of the place, and only complain when we're desperate (like being able to get in the front door). It would be nice to have some peace. At least we have until November to decide. (That is, if he didn't hear me yelling fuckhead through the walls this morning after Jon went to work. They are thick walls.)
And his octogenerian mother hears "ghost water" (water running when it isn't) and once threatened to call the cops on me because I was doing dishes. The son is also constantly yelling at the mother (in English and Greek) and slamming doors. And then there are the mouse holes and mouse poop on top of the fridge. (There's more, but that'll do for now.)

Get the fuck out of there, for fuck sake.
posted by cillit bang 02 August | 09:11
What a stress, pips. Maybe if you can get something better for the same amount, it might be a good idea.

Recently our homeowner fees went up. My husband and I were like WTF? They are considerably less than a lot of people I know, but still it's painful paying the increase, especially in our little neighborhood with little maintenance issues. It's a racket I tell you!

Good luck, pips. You can always see what's out there. Explore your options.
posted by LoriFLA 02 August | 09:17
Ugh, Pips, this whole situation blows major balls. I HATE HATE HATE moving, so I never counsel moving as an action of first resort, but hell, this sounds like one of those times when it may honestly be advantageous. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by msali 02 August | 09:44
Cillit bang, you made me laugh. I needed that. It is utterly ridiculous when you lay it all out, isn't it?

I just looked up some listings on craigslist. There are some nice places out there. Prices in the area seem to be about $1300/$1400 for a one bedroom and $1500/$1600 for two. The apartments are in much better condition than ours, though. Some even have patios or porches, and dishwashers! We'd likely pay a broker's fee of a month's rent, but I expected that (we had to for this place, too). And when we're ready, we know some people who own an agency, so they'd treat us right, I think. I don't know why we hesitate. It is a monumental task, but nothing we haven't done before. Maybe I'll start decluttering, just in case. We have a lot of boxes from grocery store deliveries around and a lot of stuff (old papers from my students, clothes we never wear) I'd like to get rid of anyway (I'd never touch Jon's music or books, of course). We could, at the very least, keep our eyes peeled, maybe aim for an October 1st move date, if Jon agrees.

It's so easy to lose my resolve. But something like this or this would be lovely. Worth the extra money. One add even highlighted how the landlord does not live on the premises. Imagine that.
posted by Pips 02 August | 10:39
You have lived there longer than I would have already. Sheesh.

posted by bunnyfire 02 August | 10:42
Wow. What a pile of bullshit. We have a nice apartment in a super nice area for rent, and I would be over the moon to find good, reliable long-term tenants like you guys. I would even keep the rent under the max we could easily get (well under) to keep long-termers like you. Of course, it's not Astoria, etc. - but still, a very desired area, where it is, and we've had some shitty, shitty luck with tenants (shitty). And also a couple of total jewels; unfortunately those jewels were only in Thessaloniki for limited times.

If I were you, I'd start looking, and depending on how much you feel like staying or going, I'd keep in mind that some Greeks are totally about the bargaining... Like if you said, "We're willing to pay $X more, but no more than that" - it might work. I don't know that this is true, but it's definitely the way for some... and not to be horribly nasty, but we were just sort of agape at some of the NY Greeks we ran into there, and sometimes here. Seriously. Greekzilla. But it's a cool place, and moving is a pain, so if they go for your "no more than $X" increase, ola kala.

posted by taz 02 August | 11:30
Good luck to you whatever you decide to do. Stynx's new place is $1600 for a two bedroom (and it was a rent by owner deal, so no brokers fee!), so I think there are plenty of good deals out there in your price range.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 02 August | 11:47
Ouch, pips that is nuts. Decluttering is good whether you are moving or not. At least you'd be ready to roll if something good popped up.
posted by chewatadistance 02 August | 12:18
Yeah, taz, I thought about offering $1400 as November approached, if we decided to stay (I figured why push it now since they could ask us to move sooner if they chose -- no lease). I thought maybe the $200 increase left room for negotiation, and they might go for it to avoid the hassle of renovating (and from the looks of it they'd have to renovate to be competitive at that price) and dealing with new tenants.

If they say no, though, we might be stuck with a December move date, which may be less desirable. I worry about apartment availability around the holidays, between November and January. Course, if they say no, we're no worse off. We could just stay at the higher rate until we found a place, if we still wanted to move. (Unless they're feeling vindictive and ask us to move anyway.)

I'm making my headache worse again. Why must I aggravate instead of just making decisions? Maybe I'll go hop on the train and wander around Macy's or something. I am much calmer, though. It's good I got it out while poor Jon's at work. He doesn't need my moods while he's trying to quit smoking. I guess, in spite of everything, part of us loves this place. It's become home.

That's good to know, pink. Sounds encouraging.
posted by Pips 02 August | 12:21
Holy shit, Pips, having seen your present apartment and the ones you linked to, there's no comparison - the other apartments give you a lot more bang for your buck particularly the second one.
posted by essexjan 02 August | 12:31
Maybe I'll go hop on the train and wander around Macy's or something

That sounds fun! I'm in such a shopping mood right now (I blame the fall fashion issue of Lucky that arrived a few days ago), so I think it's best I stay away from stores and avoid temptation ;-)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 02 August | 12:32
I know, right, ej? That one's huge, and only a hundred more than they want here (given heat and hot water are included, which I'd have to check). I'm tempted to walk down Ditmars (we live on Ditmars now) and scope it out. It's on the other side of 31st, I think (I get streets and avenues mixed up around here), where the train is, but I'm not sure how far down (that's my walking route... I wonder if it's near the red and white church I like so much).

Yeah, pink, my budget can't take too much temptation right now either, but I love to browse, too, and I haven't been in ages. Maybe a new backpack for the fall. My old one's grungy.
posted by Pips 02 August | 12:45
Damn, Pips y'all are a LOT more patient than I'd have been in your situation. I hate moving, too, but on the plus side, it IS a good way to declutter. And it's exciting being a new place.
posted by BoringPostcards 02 August | 13:40
Start looking and saving for the broker. I've been a landlord for 20 years, and felt bad because the tenants had a stove w/ no oven* - for a month. And they could use the one in my unoccupied** apt. upstairs. Sheesh.

Try running an ad in Craigslist looking for something. Ya never know.

* I think they broke it because they couldn't figure out how to work it, but that's the breaks of being a landlord.

** I'm moooooving, and it suuuuuucks.
posted by theora55 02 August | 15:25
I took a nice long walk, and I think I saw the apartment in my second link above. It was a bit further down Ditmars than I thought, but a nice quiet area. There was, however, a middle-aged man yelling for his mother to throw down the keys, so we're forewarned. Perhaps they're just tenants.

No rush anyway. I'm sipping red wine and nibbling cherries and watching Food network and generally refusing to stress anymore. Coming in, I did pass our landlord's mother on the stoop talking to a lady, and she actually called me "honey" when she said hello. I guess the prospect of extra cash has improved her mood.
posted by Pips 02 August | 16:51
Heh, well if you need more "move!!!" type of opinion, I say go for it. I was living in a one-bedroom in the Heights for what a lot of people would think is damn cheap for a one-bedroom in New York, and while I loved the neighborhood I just did not love my apartment situation at all. And having previously lived in a mouse-infested apartment in the Heights before the one-bedroom that was also a WAY cheap 2-bedroom share, let me tell you somethin', no amount of monetary comfort is worth damn mice. I'm still sensitive to the slightest "scratching in the walls" type of noise. Goddamn mice. And really, "mouse-killing expertise" is not all that cool of a skillset to gather in your lifetime no matter what other people might tell you.
posted by kkokkodalk 03 August | 10:14
Wow, those apartments look really cool, Pips. (I wish I get a place like that to stay someday, with someone who I truly love.)
posted by hadjiboy 03 August | 11:47
A lanted ale and the OED, please. || She's gone : (