10/21/16 10:38am
The bot form of Jimmy McMillan wants to help you find an apartment.

The bot form of Jimmy McMillan wants to help you find an apartment (Archibald the parrot helps too).

Jimmy McMillan has an enduring allure to him, especially at this moment in history, perhaps because he reminds us of a time when our, let’s say, more unorthodox candidates weren’t seen as a direct threat to democracy and everything we hold dear. Most people started seeing McMillan’s Chester A. Arthur mutton chops and pro wrestler swagger during his notable bid for governor in 2010, when he ran on the Rent Is Too Damn High ticket, which also happened to be his catchphrase and only memorable platform. It was the “make America great again” for a kinder, simpler age. We’ve seen a decent amount of him since then: he talked about running for mayor, dropped a fairly fire anthem (for a politician, at least), traveled the world in doll form, occasionally shopped at Trader Joe’s on Court Street and announced in December he would retire from politics. This month he’s back in a new role, though along the same theme: Helping you find an apartment in a city where the rent only keeps getting higher.

Apartment hunting startup Joinery worked with McMillan to create Jimmybot, a free Jimmy McMillan-inspired Facebook bot that helps you search for apartments in your price range. McMillan appears in videos for the service, including one where he advises that if you had your own apartment, you wouldn’t walk in on him having sex with your mother to the tunes of Teddy Pendergrass.

“A lot of it was completely just ad libbed,” Joinery cofounder Julia Ramsey said of the videos. “He was totally into the idea, he’s been sort of in and out of politics for so long. His central platform that the cost of living is too high in New York, and I would tend to agree.” (more…)

10/13/16 4:14pm
Shady landlords abound in this city. Via YouTube.

Shady landlords abound in this city. Via YouTube.

Landlords occupy a rarefied position in American society, alongside lawyers, street canvassers and lousy journalists, in that the public always seems to think they are categorically a terrible class of humans. Everyone thinks their landlord is the worst, and many of them are, as they seem to be dedicated to squeezing every penny out of potential tenants without a whiff of concern for civic pride or maintaining a livable city. But is your landlord actually the worst? Here’s your chance to find out: Public Advocate Letitia James released the annual list of 100 worst landlords today and for the first time, the list includes Department of Building violations and Department of Finance data on tax liens. Ooh I can’t wait, it’s like the most depressing award show of all time (except for the Grammys).  (more…)

08/03/16 2:05pm
An ad from Ollie's Facebook page, advertising "all-inclusive living."

An ad from Ollie’s Facebook page, advertising “all-inclusive living.”

As you surely have noticed, the media have turned telling us why millennials are Bad into a cottage industry. Millennials are not having sex, they’re not eating cereal, they’re living in adult tree forts constructed out of all the participation trophies they were handed while not buying crap like cars because we don’t actually want them/can’t afford them anyway. Millennials are not actually Bad, nor are they a homogeneous group of people who all act or tweet alike; when people talk about “millennials,” they usually mean a certain subset of city-dwelling white people from upper-middle class families who spend a lot of time on the internet. Millennials as a group are definitely not worse than Baby Boomers, many of whom were, it turns out, Bad the whole time.

But occasionally we get a reminder why this trope exists about millennials, like this story from DNAinfo yesterday about all the real estate companies that cater to “millennials” — aka people who have a lot of money to spend on apartments with fancy amenities — and offer discounts on lots of apps that divide you from actually interacting with your fellow New Yorkers.

“Our generation is so used to an on-demand lifestyle,” Lia Wayman, the 27-year-old co-founder of Room Ring, a service that matches roommates like an online dating service, told DNAinfo. “I used to say to my mom that I needed someone to do my errands.” (more…)

07/28/16 9:37am
Rental report card: New site rates landlords and apartments using letter grades

Rentlogic assigns a letter grade to each building based on complaint records.

The average NYC resident tends to avoid eating at a restaurant with a C rating — would they rent an apartment with a D- rating? That’s the grade my current apartment received according to a new site, Rentlogic, that uses an algorithm to calculate letter grades for apartments and landlords in the city. Now, before you sign the next lease, by going on Rentlogic you’ll be able to check a given apartment’s history of safety violations, vermin infestations, legal action and the like. Think of it as a way to run a background check to supplement your Craigslist search.

The CEO, activist and entrepreneur Yale Fox, who is behind Toronto’s Landlordwatch.com, told DNAInfo that he created the site because “renters really never come first.”

“It’s not a level playing field between landlords and renters,” he said. But by providing crucial information to renters, he’s hoping to change that.   (more…)

06/29/16 3:12pm
Via Flickr user jthetzel.

Via Flickr user jthetzel.

Ah Boston, you ain’t so bad, except for when it comes to the thought of actually living there, which, ugh, no. Our nation’s most bro-friendly city gets a lot of flack from us New Yorkers, some of it deserved, some of it just being mean, some of it because it looks like their streets were laid out by a 5-year-old with a spirograph.

So whatever your thoughts on Boston are, here’s a reason to be glad you don’t live there: Much of the rent in the city is more expensive than Brooklyn’s, according to this report in Metro. And with that 2am last call time, there’s even less time to drink away your sorrows.  (more…)

06/21/16 12:53pm
Quiz! How many roommates can you live with (without killing one of them)?

Can you survive enough roommates to be a cool millennial trend or nah? Take our quiz to find out!

Upon moving into my first two-bedroom apartment off-campus while attending school in Detroit, I was ready to prove to everyone (mostly my mom) that I was responsible enough to take care of myself. I could pay bills and do my own laundry, sure! No, I didn’t have a panic attack the first time I had to buy my own groceries (yes, I did), because little did I know that with having roommates kind of meant having to take care of them, too.

Now at 24, I’m currently in my fourth apartment and have had a total of nine very eccentric roommates over the past four years. I’ve got some stories, man, of roommates dropping acid and spending electric money on indian food, battling mice and possums, waking up in the morning to find someone from a very popular show on Broadway had slept over in my friend’s bed, finding strangers sleeping in my bathtub, etc. The list goes on and on, and in those trying moments of patience, I’ve found myself questioning whether or not these so-called roommates were going to be the death of me. Should I be living alone?  (more…)

04/27/16 5:27pm
Dance the dance of gentrification. Via LVM Group.

Dance the dance of gentrification. Via LVM Group.

There is nothing inherently wrong with steampunk on its face, other than how ridiculously loud a crowd of steampunks can get outside the Way Station every single goddamn night of the week. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with magicians or whiskey tastings either, nor even anything inherently wrong with condos, to be honest (they’re just little houses stacked on top of each other, an efficient way to live, and efficient living is one of the reasons New York is great). But throw all these things together in a cauldron of real estate and they start to emit an odor that smells a lot like gentrification.

This is what happened in Crown Heights last week, at a party celebrating “condo conversion:” aka turning a pre-war apartment rental building into much less affordable condos starting at half a million dollars. The party “kicked off with a splash at a Steampunk/Vaudeville-themed launch party,” according to a press release. If a real estate agent is trying to get you to buy their property by throwing you a steampunk party, there’s a good chance you might be a gentrifier. [UPDATE: We talked to the pair in the photo above about why they took the gig; read that interview here]. (more…)

02/09/16 3:50pm
Impress your friends with how nicely you live vs. how little you make! via website

Impress your friends with how nicely you live vs. how little you make! via website

If you’ve wandered around Fort Greene any time over the last year, then you’ve seen the eyesore of a building that’s been under construction for forever at Ashland and Lafayette. Well, guess what? It turns out that the city wants people to live inside, and on any budget. From the looks of their breakdown, almost half of units in the building qualify as “affordable,” priced drastically below market value (prices below)

250 Ashland is now accepting applications through April, so read on to find out whether you qualify, and what you can look forward to if you win the housing lottery. (more…)

02/03/16 11:39am
That could be your back wall, paying you thousands of dollars. via The Better Half

That could be your back wall, paying you thousands of dollars. via The Better Half

It used to be that making a living wage meant leaving your house and going to work. But now, maybe just leaving the house is enough: according to a location scout interviewed by BrickUnderground, giving a film crew access to your apartment could pay you anywhere from $1,000 per day to $50,000 for a three-day shoot!

Of course, it’s not as easy as lights, camera, action — there are a handful of criteria that influence location scouts’ decisions when choosing an apartment to use for a film or series (the BrickUnderground post lists seven things scouts look for). Lucky for you, we turned those criteria into an easy quiz you can take! Don’t be discouraged if your apartment doesn’t make the cut. But DO be very excited if it does.  (more…)

01/28/16 9:15am
Shady landlords will try to hide rent stabilization like it was a 4-foot guy in a purple beard. Via YouTube.

Shady landlords will try to hide rent stabilization like it was a 4-foot guy in a purple beard. Via YouTube.

The battle between New York City tenant and landlord is as old as time and as epic as the great battles of history, on par with Ali/Frazier, Luigi/Waluigi and Wile E. Coyote and the Acme customer service department. Sure, there are good landlords out there who care about preserving the neighborhood, but often as a lowly tenant you can often feel overwhelmed and outmatched by the resources of the landlord industrial complex who seem to be endlessly conspiring to turn you and everything you own into a condo. So it helps to be armed with the right tenant rights information to stand up for yourself in case the landlord tries to pull some shady moves.

The good folks at ProPublica have put together a handy 10-point list of common ways landlords try to screw you, and what you can do about it. It includes not turning on the heat, refusing to do repairs and jacking your rent up more than allowed. Keep it handy; we hope you never have to use it. (more…)