Property Grunt

Monday, February 27, 2006

A dirty little secret

In the latest Hunt the part that caught my eye was about Ms. Price.

By last spring, they were ready to move. They hoped for a sunny, quiet, one- or two-bedroom rental with a one-train commute to Midtown, where Ms. Rope works as a magazine researcher. Their budget was $1,500 to $1,700.

At the same time, Ms. Price was planning to leave her apartment. Her neighbor downstairs composed music, and she suffered day and night through the throbbing bass. At some point, the neighbor started smoking. Ms. Price found herself waking with a sore throat. She bought an air purifier, but nothing really helped.

"Smell privacy is really hard because people are allowed to do what they want in their apartment," said Ms. Price, a lawyer. "The smoke and noise wouldn't have gone away unless they evicted the guy. I think he was sort of depressed. It was hard to live above him."

Finally, she withheld rent, and the landlord took her to housing court.

Negotiations went well. The landlord was glad to forfeit the rent if Ms. Price vacated in two months. And did she know anyone who might want the apartment?

The dirty little secret about lawyers is that a considerable number of landlords would perfer not to have them as tenants because of their legal backgorund. I know some lawyers who try to skate around their occupation with landlords because of fear of getting their application rejected. I am not taking sides. This is just my observation. For all I know there may be more to the story with Ms. Price and her landlord besides a smelly tenant.

This all reminds me of a story I once heard. A woman took a landlord to court for discrimination because she was refused an apartment. The landlord brought in several tenants of different nationalities to court including a some who were of the same ethnic background of the woman. Then, the woman claimed that he was biased towards women. He responded by bringing several tenants who were women. Finally the judge asked why he refused the woman an apartment since she had great credit and had the funds to pay for her apartment. The landlord responded by stating that it was because she was a lawyer and that he had a horrible experience with a tenant who was a lawyer and he was not interested in taking another chance of repeating that scenario. The judge ruled in his favor.