Is there any requirement that they be reused on the same site?
Landmarks would be shamed if that happened with this one -- it did happen in the past with the cast iron facade of a building that was deconstructed in 1968 ...
They've now numbered all the various pieces of cast iron at 74 Grand, so at least they'll know how to put it back together when the time comes.
Streetscapes: Facades in Storage; Links to the Cast-Iron Era Await Reconstruction
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Published: June 10, 1990
... the facades of the Laing Stores, designed by James Bogardus and also stored by the commission for re-erection, were stolen and sold for scrap.
Is there any requirement that they be reused on the same site?
Soho's 74 Grand Gone For Good
June 23, 2010, by Pete
(click to enlarge)
Memorial services are in store for 74 Grand Street, a sorry place if there ever was one down in the heart of Soho. Following years of troubles and travails brought on by an over-eager developer next door, this stack of bricks has been reduced to rubble. The landmarked cast iron facade has been catalogued and carted away. As for the legal fight, there's no end in sight.
The Clyde Fitch Report sees the sad situation as an example of the inherent weakness of the Landmarks Preservation Commission:Shortly after Thanksgiving last year, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) issued a permit approving the demolition of 74 Grand Street, a landmark in the Soho-Cast Iron Historic District. The rationale for razing this architectural gem was that excavation at the adjacent lot had severely compromised the landmark’s foundation, causing it to tilt and thus posing a danger to public safety ... These foundations can quickly become compromised, however, when one goes digging around and beneath them ... the LPC staff reviewing these permit applications lack the requisite expertise to sufficiently recognize red flags ...And so it goes in the world of preservation. The creative gang at Beardwood & Co., from windows with a great view of the destructoporn, has chronicled the demise. As for the future, what's in store for the corner of Wooster and Grand is anybody's guess.
74 Grand Street coverage [Curbed]
New York City’s Landmarks: Is it Really Just a House of Cards? [The Clyde Fitch Report]
The Dismantling of 74 Grand St [Beardwood & Co. website]
The Fall of Temporary Apartment Walls
By MARC SANTORA
July 15, 2010
AFTER graduating from Duke University this spring, Karan Sabharwal landed a job in finance in New York City. He had a plan to make Manhattan living affordable.
He would lease a nice one-bedroom apartment, convert it to a two-bedroom space with a temporary wall and split the rent with a friend.
But when he went to check out the Rivergate, a high-rise apartment building in Kips Bay, he was told by the property manager that partitions were no longer allowed.
“I told her I had friends in nearby buildings that had put up the walls,” he said. “She said, ‘We have adopted the policy, like many other buildings in the neighborhood, that you will not be able to put up the full wall anymore.’ ”
As the city aggressively enforces a long existent but widely ignored code, walls are falling across Manhattan, radically altering the housing landscape for scores of young professionals. Thousands of renters are being told that the walls that have been put up over the years without approval from the Department of Buildings must come down. And new renters are being informed that if they wish to divide a space, they will need to rely on bookshelves or partial walls that don’t reach the ceiling.
“The impact has already been dramatic,” said Gordon Golub, the senior managing director for rentals at Citi Habitats. “Landlords are all trying to come to some sort of conclusion as to what they are going to do in allowing any walls or a different sort of wall that might go up, and it is affecting brokers and customers.”
Manhattan apartments are as varied as the roommates who decide to share a place. Because of this, there are no rules that apply universally. But in all cases, temporary walls must not block exit routes or interfere with the ventilation and sprinkler systems. And there are minimum requirements for room size.
The current focus on temporary walls is driven by two developments: prosecutors’ decision to level manslaughter charges at the owners of a building where a fatal fire occurred in 2005 and, more recently, the city’s drive to eliminate illegally installed temporary walls in Stuyvesant Town, the sprawling complex between 14th and 23rd Streets on the East Side.
After tenants’ complaints and subsequent inspections by both the Fire Department and the Department of Buildings, Tishman Speyer, the owner of Stuyvesant Town, embarked this spring on a review of all its apartments and moved swiftly to eliminate all walls that were not up to city code.
“It was determined that partition walls previously installed in some apartments were not in compliance with the New York City Building Code,” the company said in a statement. It declined to go into the extent of the complaints or who had lodged them.
Tishman Speyer is paying for the removal of the walls. It is also footing the bill for the installation of approved replacement walls for those tenants who had the landlord’s permission to build temporary walls.
City officials note that it has long been illegal to install a floor-to-ceiling wall without a permit from the Department of Buildings, even though landlords as well as tenants have often disregarded this requirement. But the strict enforcement at Stuyvesant Town has prompted many landlords to get into compliance.
The Manhattan Skyline Management Corporation, which manages thousands of luxury apartments across Manhattan, including the Rivergate, has been examining its entire portfolio to establish where walls were erected. The company has already informed hundreds of residents that even if they installed walls with the building’s approval, or moved into an apartment that already had such walls, they will have to rip them out if they are not up to code.
In a statement, the company said that because the Department of Buildings had “greatly restricted” the use of walls to subdivide rooms, “previously installed walls which were believed to be legally installed have to be removed.”
The company is offering tenants who erected walls with its approval $700 to help defray the cost of erecting new dividers, like bookshelves.
But for many residents, a bookshelf or a partial wall is no substitute.
“It’s not only inconvenient, but heartbreaking, since we love our apartment just the way it is,” said Daniela Zakarya, 25, and a broker at the Real Estate Group of New York.
Ms. Zakarya, who moved with her college roommate into a Gramercy-area apartment a year ago, said the wall had been in place at the time. She was informed in April by her landlord — whom she did not want to identify since she is still negotiating a solution — that the wall had to come down.
A week later it was removed, and now the living room has become the second bedroom while the roommates decide what to do next.
“It is a cataclysmic change and is the future of Manhattan share situations,” she said.
Ms. Zakarya quickly realized she was not alone. Many of her clients are young professionals looking to share places in doorman buildings where the average rent for a one-bedroom ranges from $3,000 to $3,500. As she has shown apartments in recent weeks, she said some potential renters have been surprised to find that the cost-saving room-splitting arrangements their friends made just a year ago are no longer an option.
And the bookshelves, screens and partitions replacing walls inevitably result in a loss of privacy.
“Everyone who wishes to save money on rent and convert their apartments may need to get used to this,” Ms. Zakarya said.
Tony Sclafani, a spokesman for the Department of Buildings, said the city’s regulations had not changed. He emphasized that a work permit had always been required to add a wall.
“The addition of a partition, pressurized wall, or other floor-to-ceiling divider, even if intended as a temporary installation, results in a change to the layout of an apartment,” he said.
To get a work permit, one must hire an architect or engineer to prepare plans of the proposed layout and other construction details as well as to apply for plan approval, Mr. Sclafani said. After the plan is approved, the contractor must get a work permit. After the work is complete, the architect or engineer must inspect it and then sign off on the job at the Department of Buildings.
Certainly, thousands of renters have skirted these rules in the past without penalty. The Department of Buildings does not randomly inspect residences, and mostly acts in response to complaints.
But ever since a deadly fire in a Bronx apartment building in 2005 in which two firefighters died after leaping from a window, the city has had illegal room dividers in its sights. Prosecutors charged the building’s former and current landlords, as well as two tenants, with manslaughter. The city’s position was that illegal partitions erected by the tenants to subdivide the apartments had disoriented the firefighters and led to their deaths.
The tenants, who were said to have installed the partitions to create small, windowless rooms that they then rented out for $75 to $100 a week, were acquitted.
The owner and former owner were convicted of criminally negligent homicide by a separate jury. But that verdict was overturned in February by the State Supreme Court, which found the prosecution had failed to prove the defendants had known about the illegal partitions.
Since that fire, the Department of Buildings has cracked down on the most dangerous situations, issuing 1,200 vacate orders in 2009 for people living in illegally subdivided apartments, the majority in Queens. Manhattan shares drew little attention until recently, when landlords and real estate agents could not help hearing the rumble of walls falling in Stuyvesant Town.
Because apartment layouts vary widely, it is difficult to generalize about what types of walls meet with city approval, but officials at the Department of Buildings said the major considerations had to do with “egress routes” to ensure “maximum travel distances in the building code are not impeded, sprinkler coverage areas (where sprinklers are provided) are not obstructed, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are relocated or supplemented if necessary to comply with the building code.”
Any electricity work must also meet guidelines.
“Keep in mind that the elimination of a common living room to create a three-bedroom, zero living room apartment may result in a rooming-unit situation that is not permitted by the Housing Maintenance Code,” Mr. Sclafani said. “In addition, since each apartment is generally required to have at least one room of at least 150 square feet, the installation of a partition may run afoul of this requirement in certain cases.”
He said anyone with questions about whether an apartment is up to code can call 311 and request an inspection by the Department of Buildings.
In any case, despite the firm stance taken by some major property owners, thousands of renters are still using pressurized walls, which are relatively inexpensive, easily installed and easily removed.
Donny Zanger, the project manager at All Week Walls, which specializes in installing and removing pressurized walls, said his business was so far unaffected.
“We are growing like crazy,” he said.
“If these walls did not exist in New York,” Mr. Zanger said, “it would be a very difficult situation for students and young professionals and even professionals who make more money.”
He says he follows all the city codes and regulations when installing a wall. He also says he does not understand how erecting large bookshelves to divide a space is any safer than properly installing a pressurized wall.
In practice, it has not been the responsibility of the installation companies to obtain the necessary building permits; it has been the landlord’s or the owner’s. But many companies use their Web sites to advise potential customers to secure approval from building management.
The cost of a wall starts around $700, and Mr. Zanger said his company had put up 300 to 400 walls in the past year. There are dozens of similar companies — a testament to just how common the practice of dividing rooms in Manhattan has become over the years.
It remains to be seen whether many landlords will follow the lead of Stuyvesant Town and other major property owners in Manhattan, but during a June meeting of landlords and brokers hosted by the Real Estate Board of New York, it was the hot topic.
Meanwhile, many renters new to the city find themselves in a position similar to that of Mr. Sabharwal, the Duke graduate.
“I heard that if you have a month, that is plenty of time to find something,” he said. But in light of the crackdown on temporary walls, his options seem more limited and he might have to reassess his $1,600 budget.
“It is a whole different experience than my friends had,” he said.
Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company
^ I was trying to think where to post that; forgot about this thread. Thank goodness for Lofter .
Not very appealing, even if it is cheap. Seems like this will largely affect only those least able to afford decent housing, as usual. And those who, although sometimes perhaps inappropriately opportunistic, are trying to make a few extra dollars....small, windowless rooms...
So will this mean relying on landlords/owners doing the right thing now? Are regular inspections of apartments by landlords the norm in NYC?The Department of Buildings does not randomly inspect residences...
It obviously required something as serious as the deaths of 2 firefighters before the "long existent but widely ignored code" is eventually (after five years - how long has the city been "aggressively" enforcing this code?) being enforced. And what if those tenants at Stuyvesant Town hadn't complained, leading to Tishman Speyer's revelatory actions?
Apart from possibly not obstructing "ventilation and sprinkler systems", good point....He also says he does not understand how erecting large bookshelves to divide a space is any safer than properly installing a pressurized wall.
A "regular inspection by landlords" is not the norm -- but for NYC renters the landlord has the right, after reasonable notice (there's the rub) to gain entry. An inspection in regard to non-compliant walls would definitely be deemed "reasonable" in NYC. And now that a landlord's liability for illegal walls as described has gained precedence, any landlord who suspects that such conditions exist in a building would be foolish not to inspect and, if found, require removal.
On another woeful note, here's a scary tale about life and death and housing in the El Dorado ...
Nightmare in Apt. 9B
Judge Affirms Support for Tenant in Downtown Rent-Stabilization Case
By Julie Shapiro If the a judges rent-stabilization case ruling holds, it could affect thousands of tenants in lower Manhattan.
A judge ruled last week that an apartment in 37 Wall St. should have been rent-stabilized.
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The owner of 37 Wall St. illegally deregulated an apartment that should have been rent-stabilized, a Housing Court judge ruled last week.
Judge Bruce Scheckowitz affirmed his previous ruling on the matter from late last year and denied the landlord’s motion to re-argue the case.
If the ruling holds, it could open the door for thousands of other lower Manhattan apartments to become rent-stabilized.
In his Aug. 4 decision, Scheckowitz wrote that the apartment should have been rent-stabilized because the landlord, W. Associates, received a 421-g tax break. The 421-g program offered tax incentives to downtown developers who converted offices to apartments between 1995 and 2006, as long as they made the units rent-stabilized.
The question, though, is what happens when the rent in those apartments tops $2,000.
W. Associates argued that the apartments are subject to luxury decontrol, which means they are no longer rent-stabilized when they hit $2,000. In this case, the 37 Wall St. apartment initially rented for nearly $5,000, so it was never rent-stabilized, argued Kevin Smith, the landlord’s attorney.
But Serge Joseph, who represents the tenant, said that no matter how high the rent rises in 421-g apartments, rent-stabilization still holds.
Judge Scheckowitz agreed.
“It is unfair for an owner to receive [tax] benefits which reduce operating cost and not, conversely, provide some benefit to the tenants as well,” Scheckowitz wrote in his decision.
Smith, who represents the landlord, said he disagreed with the decision but had not discussed it with his client and did not know if he would appeal.
A representative for W. Associates declined to comment.
In addition to affecting the other tenants of 37 Wall St., the ultimate resolution of the case could affect more than two-dozen downtown buildings that also received the 421-g tax abatement.
Maybe the judge should have also stated an option to buy out of the 421-G by paying for tax credits given/awarded plus any appreciation between the time of receipt to the time of payment.
If they want to charge whatever they want, let them. Just "remind" them that they have debts to pay.
Housing Fades as a Means to Build Wealth, Analysts Say
By DAVID STREITFELD
Housing will eventually recover from its great swoon. But many real estate experts now believe that home ownership will never again yield rewards like those enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century, when houses not only provided shelter but also a plump nest egg.
The wealth generated by housing in those decades, particularly on the coasts, did more than assure the owners a comfortable retirement. It powered the economy, paying for the education of children and grandchildren, keeping the cruise ships and golf courses full and the restaurants humming.
More than likely, that era is gone for good.
“There is no iron law that real estate must appreciate,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist for the real estate site Zillow. “All those theories advanced during the boom about why housing is special — that more people are choosing to spend more on housing, that more people are moving to the coasts, that we were running out of usable land — didn’t hold up.”
Instead, Mr. Humphries and other economists say, housing values will only keep up with inflation. A home will return the money an owner puts in each month, but will not multiply the investment.
Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, estimates that it will take 20 years to recoup the $6 trillion of housing wealth that has been lost since 2005. After adjusting for inflation, values will never catch up.
“People shouldn’t look at a home as a way to make money because it won’t,” Mr. Baker said.
If the long term is grim, the short term is grimmer. Housing experts are bracing themselves for Tuesday, when the sales figures for July will be released. The data is expected to show a drop of as much as 20 percent from last year.
The supply of homes sitting on the market might rise to as much as 12 months, about twice the level of a healthy market. That would push down prices as all those sellers compete to secure a buyer, adding to a slide that has already chopped off as much as 30 percent in home values.
Set against this dismal present and a bleak future, buying a home is a willful act of optimism. That explains why Adam and Allison Lyons are waiting to close on a $417,500 house in Deerfield, Ill.
“We’re trying not to think too far ahead,” said Ms. Lyons, 35, an information technology manager.
The couple’s first venture into real estate came in 2003 when they bought a condo in a 17-unit building under construction in Chicago. By the time they moved in two years later, it was already worth $50,000 more than they had paid. “We were thinking, great!” said Mr. Lyons, 34.
That quick appreciation started them on the same track as their parents, who watched the value of their houses ascend for decades. The real estate crash interrupted that pleasant dream. The couple cannot sell their condo. Unwillingly, they are becoming landlords.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to see the prosperity our parents did, but I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom either,” said Mr. Lyons, a manager at I.B.M. “At some point, you just have to say what the heck and go for it.”
Other buyers have grand and even grander expectations.
In an annual survey conducted by the economists Robert J. Shiller and Karl E. Case, hundreds of new owners in four communities — Alameda County near San Francisco, Boston, Orange County south of Los Angeles, and Milwaukee — once again said they believed prices would rise about 10 percent a year for the next decade.
With minor swings in sentiment, the latest results reflect what new buyers always seem to feel. At the boom’s peak in 2005, they said prices would go up. When the market was sliding in 2008, they still said prices would go up.
“People think it’s a law of nature,” said Mr. Shiller, who teaches at Yale.
For the first half of the 20th century, he said, expectations followed the opposite path.
Houses were seen the way cars are now: as a consumer durable that the buyer eventually used up.
The notion of housing as an investment first began to blossom after World War II, when the nesting urges of returning soldiers created a construction boom. Demand was stoked as their bumper crop of children grew up and bought places of their own. The inflation of the 1970s, which increased the value of hard assets, and liberal tax policies both helped make housing a good bet. So did the long decline in mortgage rates from the early 1980s.
Despite all these tailwinds, prices rose modestly for much of the period. Real home prices increased 1.1 percent a year after inflation, according to Mr. Shiller’s research.
By the late 1990s, however, the rate was 4 percent a year. Happy homeowners were taking about $100 billion a year out of their houses, which paid for a lot of good times.
“The experience we had from the late 1970s to the late 1990s was an aberration,” said Barry Ritholtz of the equity research firm Fusion IQ. “People shouldn’t be holding their breath waiting for it to happen again.”
Not everyone views the notion of real appreciation in real estate as a lost cause.
Bob Walters, chief economist of the online mortgage firm Quicken, acknowledges that the recent collapse will create a “mind scar” just as the Great Depression did. But he argues that housing remains unique.
“You have to live somewhere,” he said. “In three or four years, people will resume a normal course, and home values will continue to increase.”
All homes are different, and some neighborhoods and regions will rebound more quickly. On the other hand, areas where there was intense overbuilding, like Arizona, will be extremely slow to show any sign of renewal.
“It’s entirely likely that markets like Arizona will not recover even in the 15- to 20-year time frame,” said Mr. Humphries of Zillow. “The demand doesn’t exist.”
Owners in those foreclosure-plagued areas consider themselves lucky if they are still solvent. But that does not prevent the occasional regret that a life-changing sum of money was so briefly within their grasp.
Robert Austin, a Phoenix lawyer, paid $200,000 for his home in 2000. Five years later, his neighbors listed a similar home for $500,000.
Freedom beckoned. “I thought, when my daughter gets out of school, I can sell the house and buy a boat and sail around the world,” said Mr. Austin, 56.
His home is now worth about what he paid for it. As for that cruise, “it may be a while,” Mr. Austin said. Showing the hopefulness that is apparently innate to homeowners, he added: “But I won’t rule it out forever.”
Wow, people are just learning this?
I think this is mostly true, but I also know that in a LONG TERM INVESTMENT, so long as your neighborhood does not go to .....poop, you will get slightly more than inflation just because some areas are more desirable than others.
Some simple reasons:
Ethnicity. Some cultures are willing to pay more to move to a neighborhood they feel comfortable in. Although that eventually fades, you see the result in Korean and Chinese neighborhoods (like in Elmhurst) commanding much more than similar places in almost identical neighborhoods.
Education. Schools still matter and make some areas more valuable than others.
Convenience. Although many 'Burbanites will not feel the need for a town center, almost ALL like having a commute less than an hour. Until NYC runs out of office space and we get some more serious development surrounding it (Jersey City as an example), people will stay near the commuting lines and routes that are the most convenient and expedient.
Density. This only works in conjunction with the others. Living in a crowded area that has nothing (go down route 1 and 9 in Jersey City and Union to see what I mean) will get nothing, but when an area has no room, but has everything people want... such as Brooklyn Heights or Montclaire (zoning prevents much new development there) the price gets inflated.
So, i think we have just gone back to what it has always been. Property is not a guaranteed investment. You have to know what you are buying, and most will not appreciate much above inflation or average wage increases.
It's still subject to supply and demand. In some parts of the country housing was massively overbuilt (Vegas, Florida, California). It will take decades to absorb the supply.
But NYC is predicted to get up to 1,000,000 more residents over the next several decades. They're all going to need someplace to live.
Public Advocate Takes on Slumlords With New Website
August 30, 2010, by Sara
New York City's worst landlords haven't been having a great month. First the law made them reveal their true identities. Now the office of Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is coming for them with a new website and searchable/sortable NYC slumlord watch list. Unlike similar city lists, this one uses the power of Google Maps to show the neighborhoods with the highest slumlord concentrations. And what it lacks in slumlord gross-out stories, the Daily News makes up for with a few colorful rat-in-toilet anecdotes from tenants of Bronx slumlord Alan Fein. According to a press release from the public advocate's office, de Blasio will be taking one Chinatown slumlord to task with a press conference outside his 197 Madison Street building today. We're guessing no one's gonna make the place look nice for his arrival.
NYC's Worst Landlords Watchlist [pubadvocate.nyc.com]
New website aims to shine light on city's worst slumlords [NYDN]
Using Private Eyes to Keep Track of Tenants
By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY
As a parade of slovenly dressed 20-somethings passed through the entrance of a downtown Manhattan apartment building on a weekday afternoon, these seemingly savvy New Yorkers did not seem to notice they were the subjects of a photo shoot.
That is because this shoot was covertly orchestrated by their landlord, who had hired a private investigator to root out illegal tenants.
Masked by lunchtime crowds and afternoon rain, the private eye, Joseph Mullen, who has run a sleuthing firm for more than 40 years, parked his car in front of the building, flipped through papers showing that several residents of the seven-story building were “dead or living somewhere else,” and waited.
Shane Williams, a vice president of the firm, J.T. Mullen Inc., slouched strategically in his seat and photographed people as they entered and left. The affable pair looked like observers at an antifashion show as food deliverymen paraded through, an older portly renter stepped out to buy cheese biscuits and renters dressed in gym clothing shuffled outside to smoke.
“We don’t know half the people who live in this building,” Mr. Mullen said. He released a gravelly chuckle, rustled through papers and glanced through the tinted window. “The landlords say, ‘I got to get these illegal tenants out and make some money.’ ”
In a high-rent borough like Manhattan with plenty of rent-regulated apartments ripe for exploitation, real estate investigation has long been a big business. Private detectives say it has picked up in the past year as some New Yorkers have tried to find extra money by moving out of their apartments and subletting to other renters for more than they are paying, which is not allowed.
And, of course, there are landlords pressed for cash, trying to root out people who are using rent-controlled or rent-stabilized apartments illegally. This would allow the landlords to find new tenants and raise the rent by 20 percent or more under state housing law.
During the speculation boom of the last decade, some large landlords were accused of using private investigators to harass legal tenants out of their apartments in order to raise rents to cover large mortgages and increase their profits.
Landlords who root out illegal sublets and absentee renters — a rent-regulated tenant must occupy the unit for at least 183 days a year — crow about how profitable these investigations can be.
Craig Charie, a lawyer and landlord who has hired private investigators for such cases since 1994, described a tenant at one Chelsea building who held onto her $433-a-month apartment while living primarily in New Jersey. An investigator tracked her commuting patterns, and Mr. Charie kicked her out, combined the apartment with another to make a duplex and raised the rent.
“It’s exceptionally useful,” Mr. Charie said. “We pieced together a lifestyle and recaptured the unit.”
As Mr. Mullen and Mr. Williams watched for residents and rain pattered on the car, they explained how these real estate cases, which make up a small fraction of their business, reach them. New Yorkers settle into rent-regulated apartments in their 20s. But as their incomes and families grow and they move out, they try to hold onto these apartments by renting them out to family and friends. When landlords bought buildings in recent years, often the only information they were given about their tenants was scribbled on rumpled papers and included names of residents who had not lived there in 30 years. Mr. Williams estimates that landlords do not know 20 percent of their tenants.
That is when they hire Mr. Mullen’s firm. He investigated a Baxter Street building where all of the residents had the same Social Security number. Mr. Williams chimed in about a building where the illegal tenant listed his apartment under the name O. B. Juan KNobi.
They allowed this reporter on a recent stakeout on the condition that the address not be published, because it was still under surveillance. They were hired to investigate 10 of the 25 apartments in the building; they usually earn $300 to $500 per apartment, or more if it involves extensive research. The most widely available public records may not always help. They said some tenants who lived elsewhere most of the year would vote in the city (itself a crime) to leave a paper trail or would receive their mail at their rent-controlled apartment and bribe the superintendent to forward it once a week.
This building had several advantages for the two men, including proximity to good coffeehouses, to keep them alert, and a superintendent who puts out the trash early enough to give them time to dig for Consolidated Edison or phone bills or other clues to who actually lives in an apartment. E-ZPass records and auto insurance bills are also useful. At some buildings, the superintendent can be talked into wedging a match into a locked apartment door to see how many days or weeks it takes to fall out.
When a smoker emerged from the building, they cheered; smokers linger and make it easy to photograph. Eventually, they will give all their photos to the landlord, who can show them to the superintendent to identify who is living where and whether a 25-year-old is living alone in a 95-year-old’s apartment.
If so, the eviction process can begin. It’s a messy business that has left Mr. Mullen with little envy for his clients.
“I wouldn’t want to be a landlord,” he said.
Our landlord sent a guy like that around a few years back. Total creep.