Earlier today we received a tip that promised "a quick story about NYC landlords favoring market rate tenants" and "the sheer assholery of some rich people dominating formerly diverse, interesting neighborhoods." Would you believe that we're talking about SoHo?
Jonathan, the tipster, says his mother has lived in an 800-square foot, rent-stabilized loft near the intersection of Spring and Mercer Streets since 1980. "All the neighbors used to know each other," Jonathan told us.
"One time when I was a kid, I watched a scary movie, and I knew the guy on the 7th floor and hung out in his apartment until my mom came back from the store. Now it's unrecognizable, it's not the neighborhood I grew up in."
Jonathan, who asked that we not publish his last name and exact address "because the landlord has tried to use technicalities to get us out," says his mother is the only non-market rate tenant in the landmarked building, and pays $900/month in rent. Apparently this fact does not sit well with the neighbor downstairs, who pays $5,500/month.
"He throws after-hour parties. People go to a club, then they come back to his apartment after the club is closed to party more," Jonathan told us, adding that his mother works six days a week as a masseuse at a spa. "She's 67. Her Social Security equals her rent. So she's gonna have to keep working into her early seventies at least, and she's been unable to sleep. And when she's tried to ask him, he's been a jerk about it."
As proof, Jonathan sent us screengrabs of a recent exchange with the downstairs neighbor, Tarik.
"He just thinks that if he's paying a lot of money, he can do whatever the fuck he wants," Jonathan explains.
Tarik himself confirmed this suspicion in a brief telephone conversation.
"I say I pay $5,500, because it's so expensive, I should be left alone to do what I want in my apartment...I have the whole floor to myself," Tarik told us, adding that he was "hardly there" for the duration of his one-year lease. "I was in Africa for a whole month!"
He also claimed to be unaware of the rent discrepancy between himself and his 67-year-old neighbor.
"I have no clue that they're rent-stabilized, I thought everyone was paying the same rent in my building. I don't even know. I could care less what their rent is. It makes no difference to me."
He added, "The guy upstairs pays $10,500!"
After being asked about his profession, Tarik hung up.
According to Jonathan, the NYPD responded to a recent 311 complaint about the noise emanating from Tarik's apartment; officers knocked loudly at the front door, but no one answered.
"They climbed down the fire escape and were banging on his windows and the air conditioning with their flashlights and he didn't budge," Jonathan said. "[The noise] is illegal but nothing's gonna happen to him."
"I kind of scared him in the elevator the next day. I told him, 'Next time they'll find your drugs.'"