Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Update: Housing

I called the landlord’s office (again) last Friday to find out what this “rent increase” is about, and the people in the landlord’s office had no ideas. As most of you know, I have been trying to find out about this “rent increase” for the past three months, by writing and calling my landlord, but he refuses to explain. Since I live in a rent stabilized apartment, all rent increases must be approved by the city before they are enacted, according to my sources.


One of the office workers suggested this “rent increase” was for fixing up my apartment, not knowing that my apartment bathroom had been nearly completely destroyed when the ceiling caved in after several heavy rainstorms in late March — a situation that was not remedied until after I called the city one week later and filed a formal complaint with the housing board.

Of course, I have been afraid ever since that the landlord would increase my rent punitively as a result of this complaint, which gave him a fine (or so I understand), so the office worker’s suggestion really made me angry and fearful.

Finally, after a lengthy discussion, the office worker gave me the phone number for some man named Juan, who was “guaranteed” to be in his office on Monday (today) to talk to me. I called Juan today and discovered that no, he is not in his office today, so I left him a voicemail outlining my problem with this mysterious rent increase and told him, because I had received no information after three months of asking in writing and by telephone, that I was calling Charles Rangel, my congressman (who has worked most intensively for the affordable housing tax credit, YEAH CHARLES RANGEL!!) and I would complain to him about this situation.

Oh, and I left my phone number with this tool, Juan, in the unlikely event that he decides to call me back.

So then I spent an hour or more on my cell phone today (can you say expensive minutes?! YIKES!), talking to the staff people employed by Charles Rangel, and then was told to call my city councilcritter, Miguel Martinez. After hearing my story, the office staff there invited me to bring my rent invoice (since I have no letters from the landlord) to Martinez’s office either tomorrow or Thursday, when we would all sit down and go over the situation and HE will call my landlord to find out what the problem is.

And that’s where the situation stands right now.

Do I feel any better? No. Even if this situation is resolved and I don’t have to pay this “rent increase”, I fully expect retribution in some costly way from the landlord — retribution that will render me and my parrots homeless in the end.

Comments

  1. #1 Chris' Wills
    June 30, 2008

    Hopefully the meeting with the city councilman will go well.

    I am impressed that your elected people are so helpful.

  2. #2 Mike Dunford
    June 30, 2008

    There are local not-for-profits in NYC that have government grants to do landlord-tenant issues work. Most of them are fairly good. If you ask at Martinez’s office, they’ll probably be able to point you to whoever has the contract for your area.

    Even if the issue is successfully resolved this time, it might be good to get in touch with them sometime soon. Those not-for-profits are usually better equipped to deal with ongoing issues than the politicians are. (Not that I’m criticizing the pols on this one, it’s just the difference between their very generalized constituent affairs offices and the more specialized we-do-housing-for-a-living folks at the NFP.)

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