There’s No Place Like Home? Not When You Move Into An Apartment From Hell

November 2, 2012  |  


Trying to find an apartment in New York City when you don’t live in the city is a nightmare — not that trying to find an apartment in New York City when you’re in New York City is much easier. But unless you have a lot of money and a broker who actually wants to earn his 15% commission, you’re going to end up sacrificing some of those things that would be considered normal amenities in any other city in America just to put a decent roof over your head.

I already knew these things when I was preparing to move back to the city in July. I was given about 60 days from the time I accepted my job offer to find a place and relocate, but in New York speak, since landlord’s here do not hold places for people, I had about two weeks. As the weeks in my search passed by and I was running out of time without being able to do a quick find-an-apartment weekend trip, my search came down to two options. One was sharing an expensive apartment in a new condo-style building in Brooklyn. My roommate would be a 45-year-old man who told me once he installed a kitchenette in the bedroom I’d be renting, which already had its own bathroom, it was expected that I would not be in any of the common areas of the apartment, i.e. the state-of-the-art chef-style kitchen or the enormous living room and balcony. The other option was a more modest Jr. 1-bedroom apartment in Harlem across the street from my last place that was owned by my previous management company and that I had a friend of mine visit twice to check out. I went with Harlem.

When I moved in, things were cool. I already knew the neighborhood so I wasn’t expecting to be grabbing Sunday brunch with friends in the area. But I also wasn’t expecting to be dealing with what I will call “special” neighbors, cat burglars, and other critters, literally.  The first time I became a bit suspicious of my dwelling was when my super, who was also my super at my last place, gave me the rundown on my neighbors. He told me a couple of the apartments on my floor were empty besides the quiet guy to the left of me and the old lady on the right who I didn’t have to worry about — just don’t loan her money. When he said that I thought, I don’t ever plan on that being a discussion we would have. But just the next week we were having a completely different one.

When I received an email notification that my package from Target had been delivered I was prepared to have to pick it up from the local post office because of it’s size. What I wasn’t prepared for was the lady to the right of me yelling “hey. hey I have your package ” when I came home. Part of me was happy I wouldn’t have to go to the post office now, the other half was like, umm I don’t know you and I didn’t ask you to do this. What was also uncomfortable was that my neighbor, whose name I still don’t know, would not allow me to enter her apartment and get my package, she insisted on carrying it out to me. Fine, I understand wanting your privacy, despite the fact that we’re talking about the same woman who basically took my property, but when she wouldn’t even stop at the door to set my box down and instead pushed her way into my place, I was on edge. She commented on how nice my place was and all I could think was, if this lady breaks in my apartment and sells my stuff for cash it’s going to be on.

Thankfully, that never happened. What did happen was me essentially telling her to STFU one night when she wouldn’t stop yelling uncontrollably. At first I thought the woman was hurt, so I peeped my head out the door. Then I realized she was just babbling nonsensically, and annoyed I slammed my door shut. She decided to do the same, which prompted me to look in the hall again. This time two males that I’ve seen in her place before were in the hallway. One began to explain to me that she was off her meds, the other thought she was on drugs. My neighbor then peaked her head out saying she was screaming because I slammed my door when all I had to do was ask her to be quiet. Not one to pick a fight with crazy, I asked her to be quiet. She said okay, closed the door, and went back to yelling about being under investigation by the FBI. At that point I didn’t need anyone to explain anything to me: that chick cray.

Much to my misfortune, she’s not the only oddball in my place. Last Monday as I came home my male neighbor to the left stopped me to ask if I’m the “one who’s singing all the time.” Embarrassed and apologizing for being too loud, he said he wasn’t bothered at all and thought I sounded great. He then gave me his name and introduced himself. I said thank you and went inside my apartment and thought nothing else of him. At 11:30 pm, my doorbell rang. Knowing no one was there to see me, I ignored it and thought it might be an accident. A minute later, the bell rang again so I tip-toed out of bed to look through the peep hole. Apparently I wasn’t light enough on my feet because my neighbor, in his yellow flannel pajamas, announced “It’s James. The neighbor you met before.” With my mind in Law & Order SVU mode, I asked him what he needed and that’s when 50-year-old, wild about the eyes James said he needed to talk. I told him no, said I was going to bed, and then I grabbed my fuchsia Komachi knife and laid it by the bed thinking I’ll be damned if that negro tries to get me without a fight.

Two days later, there was a different intruder I had to worry about. After coming home late from work last Wednesday I grabbed some food on the way to my place and simply planned to shower, eat, have a cocktail, and pass out. Unfortunately, when I walked in my bedroom and turned on the light I found a stray cat sitting in my bed. Yes, a stray cat nestled in my streets. Startled, and wondering if I’d just relived a scene from Jumanji, you know when the kids find a lion on their bed, I simply backed out of the apartment, called my super, and hoped I was hallucinating. I was not. When my super entered my place he looked in my bedroom and there the disgusting orange stray cat I take precautions not to even walk by on the street because it looks so gross, sashayed his or her arse out of my place and gave me a look like “you’re lucky I feel like leaving” as it walked by me. I haven’t been back to my place since.

I could write off that last situation as the random dealings of an ally cat so determined to find shelter it spent hours biting and clawing it’s way through the side of my AC window expander, but because I skipped over the part where my property manager’s neglect  to close the holes I noticed the day I moved in resulted in a rodent infestation  I don’t feel like I have to explain myself. Two hotel stays and a week on a friend’s couch later, I’m mustering up the courage to return to my literal hell hole tomorrow without having to cut a mother effer– which in this case could mean a stray animal, my crazy neighbor, or my landlord who doesn’t understand the concept of peace of mind and why I’m hell bent on breaking my lease. Despite the great things that have happened since moving back to NY, this is one of those times where I can’t help but ask myself, where did I go wrong?

Have you ever had a sucky apartment situation?

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  • Michelle

    I really needed this laugh…great writer….thanks for the chuckles 😉

  • I stayed off campus my last year of college. I lived by myself in a one bedroom apt and I stayed on the first floor which means I had someone living above me with floor panels that squeaked every time my upstairs neighbor and her boyfriend walked around. I’m a big girl and so was she but she was like 6’0. Her boyfriend was about as tall as she was but he was average size, but I swear every morning while he was getting ready for work it sounded like this fool had on working boots. Just them walking around slowly pissed me off everyday. It would get to the point where I would be elated when they weren’t home and as soon as I saw either of them walking up the walkway my whole mood would change and I’d just stare at them until they walked up the stairs to their apt.

    The worst part is that I think the weekend was dedicated to their “love making sessions” and I would wake up to them gettin it in right above me. I swear I don’t think they had sex anywhere else but on that damn bed! Like there was the living room, the kitchen, the floor, anywhere they could have done it but they persisted on doing it on that damn bed!! I ain’t gonna lie I wasn’t mad cause they was gettin it in, I mean do you get it in, but I was mad cause not only was I not gettin it in I had to hear someone else gettin it in. Maybe if I was gettin some on the regular I wouldn’t have been so irritated, lol. I was so glad to graduate not because I was happy that I was done with school but that I could finally move out of that apartment and back home to my room where I didn’t have to worry about the sounds of folks walking around and gettin it in.

  • MsTT

    Probably woud have been better if you’d moved here (early or not) and stayed on a friends couch while looking. I like to see an apartment a coupe times before moving in. Re: a drive, walk by or pass through at night to see what the scene is like…

  • BarBQ

    Similar situation, it’s usually better to get like a temp furnished place for a while and then take your time finding a place. I did this for my latest move from the west to east coast. It was a hard lesson after a bipolar roommate accused me of being an international spy and hiding dead bodies in my room and then an alcoholic roommate blasting music and dragging me out of my bed at 3am. I literally hid in my room for 2 years. Good luck with the new place, usually if you can document its uninhabitable you can break the lease. Check out your tenants rights.

    • resheart

      What is the world…..??!?!?!?

  • NaturalJem

    lol Brande, your stories are too funny. I bust out laughing at the part with the cat “you’re lucky I feel like leaving”, with the image in my head lol

  • Julie

    Why does the girls hair in the pic look a hot a Hott mess tho? Either her foreheads too big or she needs another stylist

    • che

      Why do you feel the need to point that out? Oh wait…it makes you feel better about your dismal existence and you’re the type of woman who likes to put others down because it’s the only way you can feel good about your sorry self.
      You’re welcome

  • Resheart

    Ohh you poor baby lol. The cat would have been the last straw for me too. I had a bad apartment experience as well. It was my first apartment and i thought it was perfect. It was in walking distance from campus, free parking (which in my city is a big thing) and very big and spacious. I thought i had hit the jackpot b/c many of my friends where paying around the same price as me to live in a apartment half the size as mine. Anyways then troubled started in. In the winter i barely got any heat.No matter how much i complained my apartment stayed at 40degrees. I had to sleep with the oven on, plus bought two space heaters just to keep it at a decent temperature. Second, one of my neighbors had a cat they let wander the hallways. I would come home to this territorial cat that liked to block the hallway to my door. I was on my way to leave for church once and that cat had took a huge dump in our hallway, I ended up banging on the owners door at 9 am and told them that mess needs to be cleaned up before i get home. Also when i first moved in the apartment everyone but me was a grad student in our complex, which i liked. But by the second year all the grad students moved out and they had been replaced with a whole bunch of loud, always drunk and stoned freshmen who constantly had friends yelling and partying at all hours of the night. I had to call the police on them twice. Once for them ( or one of their party goers) yelling racial slurs at the top of their throat at 3am during exam week -____- , the other for a girl and (im assuming her boyfriend) fighting and crying loudly at about 4am and she kept yelling that he hit her and i could her things being thrown…. of course when the police came i could hear her saying to them that she didnt understand why anybody would call the police they werent loud and he didnt touch her. Then i had 3 months where the lights in my room wouldnt come on and i called and sent emails but my land lord never came- when i finally caught him at the apartments and demand he fix it he said ” really? i never got a vm or message from you” -____- . I even had issues with my power going off and having to run to the basement to switch the box. Which wouldnt be a big deal if they didnt go off every hour for about a month before they go it fixed Or if the basement wasnt dark and creepy and i would have to run down there by myself at all times of the night.. I wanted to stay b/c it was such a pretty apartment and it was in such an amazing location but i just couldnt do it any more! I moved after two years there and i am so glad!

  • mac

    you’re such a good storyteller! the imagery! lol i’m seriously impressed. I hope you go on to do bigger things with it

  • che

    Great story, too funny!

  • Wiz


  • Wiz

    Lmao Im sort this story is hilarious !

  • KJ23