Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite!
May 16, 2006 6:17 PM   Subscribe

[New York City apartment filter] So my future roommate and I found a place we thought was perfect. We're thisclose to signing the lease. And then a search with HPD turns up 96 open violations in the building. How concerned should I be?

We're working with a broker, and we have put down the security deposit but not the first month's rent (also required) and we haven't signed a lease yet.

The place seems almost too good to be true: spacious flex 2 BR for $2200 in the Financial District, replete with doorman, elevator, laundry in-building.

(I know, I know: if it seems too good to be true, well, it probably is.)

The 96 (!) open violations, courtesy of NYC HPD, include roaches, mice, all kinds of maintenance issues, and worst of all, bedbugs. Only 2 out of 5 tenants on recommended it, but I don't know how much weight to throw behind that, as I'd never heard of the site before today.

I should note that our broker is the only broker who rents places out in this building.

My questions include:

1) If a building has bedbugs, even if they are only cited in one apartment, do I run?
2) How many violations are normal? Is this excessive?
3) Are there any other city websites I should check out?
4) How much might it cost us to escape this deal?
posted by anjamu to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How many violations are normal? Check some other random apartments in the area and find out!
posted by aubilenon at 6:38 PM on May 16, 2006

Just out of curiosity, I looked up my building (where I have lived happily for five years) and it has 75 open violations. I've had a few issues, and the building management and the super have sometimes been slow, but have eventually fixed them. Maybe you can use this as a point of reference.

The bedbug thing is the most troubling.
posted by kimdog at 6:39 PM on May 16, 2006

Bedbugs are the devil. I would go and ask my prospective new neighbours if they are still seeing them in the building but then I am not a New Yorker.
posted by fshgrl at 7:02 PM on May 16, 2006

Response by poster: Re: bedbugs

I looked at the violations again, and these people have reported bedbugs two weeks in a row in their apartment. The most recent filing date is just over a week ago.

I really want to do more research on this, as even a mention of bedbugs makes me hesitant. fshgrl, I may sneak past the doorman and take your advice.
posted by anjamu at 7:22 PM on May 16, 2006

How big is this building? My boyfriend's very large UWS building has only one open complaint. My tiny 5-unit building has 26 open complaints, but only 4 are from this calendar year so I don't know what's up with that.
I suspect you can do better. And bedbugs are AWFUL and if you get them you really, really want a landlord that won't make you file a complaint with HPD to get an exterminator to show up.
There is a 3-day grace period in which you can back out of a lease and get your deposit back, so if you decide to back out you can.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:24 PM on May 16, 2006

Response by poster: This building is I think 186 units? So it's pretty big, although some of them are outstanding from 9/11-related issues.

But my 34-unit building right now, which isn't exactly a model of how to run an apartment building, has 7 and I think none of them are from this year.

Thanks for all of the advice so far. I'm leaning towards taking WCityMike's advice.
posted by anjamu at 7:33 PM on May 16, 2006

Bahaha. I just looked up my building, and it has 7,874 open violations.

But then, I only pay $450 per month, so what can you expect?
posted by bingo at 8:44 PM on May 16, 2006

Of course I haven't seen the place myself, so there might be something amazing about it that I'm missing... but a doorman flex-2BR in the Financial District is not an extraordinary value in and of itself at that price -- if you aren't hugely attached to it for personal/aethetic reasons, and you're not desperate fo other options (which I doubt you are if you can rent at that price level), I'd say move on.
posted by allterrainbrain at 9:06 PM on May 16, 2006

Yeah, I was going to say, I am really not with you on the 'seems to good to be true' wavelength, bedbugs or otherwise.
posted by bingo at 9:58 PM on May 16, 2006

I don't know how code works in New York, but presumably you could try to obtain some sort of seperate assurance from the landlord (in writing?) that the problems are being addressed or will be addressed.

That said, it's probably more trouble than it's worth, especially if you're not that attached to the place.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 1:11 AM on May 17, 2006

posted by WCityMike at 10:29 PM EST on May 16 [+fave] [!]

I emphatically second that. Bedbugs can indeed spread throughout the building, and they will ruin your life.
posted by footnote at 5:11 AM on May 17, 2006

The open violations thing isn't as huge a deal as it might at first seem, as other have pointed out. But seriously, bed bugs are nothing to ---- around with. I had two friends whose apt. got inundated and they just walked away from the whole thing. I think they went back once to get wallets, computers, and pictures, but everything else they threw away. The chances of bedbugs actually traveling from building to building is actually high enough that people will lie about why they left their last apt.

My advice: ask the neighbors.

In the end, no deal is worth Bed Bugs.
posted by Smarson at 8:21 AM on May 17, 2006

Agreed that any number of other violations doesn't matter compared to even one instance of bed bugs. They will spread. It's almost impossible to get rid of them. It can be traumatic. And you could bring them to your next place. Don't worry. You can find another place.

If the deposit was in check form, cancel the check and ask for it back, explaining that you've changed your mind. If they try to tell you it's already a done deal, don't let them talk you back into it. If you haven't signed the lease, you haven't signed the lease. If you're persistent, they'll give up and scratch the deal in favor of trying to find another tenant ASAP.

If it's cashier's check or cash, I'm less sure about how to go about that.
posted by lampoil at 9:41 AM on May 17, 2006

posted by omidius at 10:11 AM on May 17, 2006

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