Letter to a New York City Landlord

Dear Siraj,

This is a letter serving as an official notice that I will be withholding half month’s rent for every month that I do not have a floor.

This letter is also intended for, according to Zillow, a gentleman named Mohamed H., who I have never met but who apparently owns this house, so I do not understand how you are a landlord and a real estate agent (for a 3-bedroom 2nd floor unit treated as a boarding house), but perhaps that is for another letter.

I understand that I surveyed then took the room as is, but I was desperate at the time. Or what they call “looking for a place” in New York City. I also understand that I took the room after surveying it in the dark (because you stated that the light bulb didn’t work), and finding it odd that you never removed your sneakers on the carpet or asked me to either but saying nothing. However, it was repugnant. I admit to having a “thing” with carpets and rugs, but this carpet appeared to be uncleaned throughout multiple tenancies and, in some areas, a patchwork of multiple swatches of carpet badly stapled down. It’s also likely that the brown s**t in one area really was brown s**t. I would take a shower and enter my room, only to feel the need to shower again.

I informed you several times of my discomfort, and I will admit to your series of almost identical beseeches of: no, Kindra, do not touch thee rug! and finally, one Sunday, pulling it up anyway. In retrospect, I may have been wrong in doing this, but as Stephen King once said in his book Insomnia, you can’t undo a done bun.

I admit that it was at this point that I began to demand a floor, but especially because I realized that the carpet was an attempt to hide an unfinished floor. It was plywood, or a sub-floor upon which real floors are built. While I did not inform you of my new discomfort of possibly falling through certain spots in the plywood to the 1st floor apartment below, I did inform you that I would not be paying full rent until I received a new floor. I will admit to a series of almost identical statements of: no, Kindra! Why did you do that?! I told you not to do that to thee floor!, and a sort of upward inflection at the end of each of your sentences, but I cannot concede that you were upset because I do not know you personally, or how anger is manifested in Bangladeshis.

I will admit to agreeing to retroactively restore rent payments when and if I finally received a floor, but I also admit to changing my mind now that I have the floor.

I have spoken to you several times about your unannounced entrances into our apartment with your key, especially as we are 3 women, 2 of whom walk around in various stages of dishabille. One morning, I stepped out of my room to find an unidentified Mexican man standing in the middle of the kitchen holding a bucket. Though unnerved, I directed him to the “agua” in our bathtub, as I realized that he was 1 of 2 men working on repairing the front stairs. I also realized that you had unlocked our door to give them unrestricted access to water from our apartment, and had run a cord for their machinery up the stairs and into our kitchen all without our knowledge. I believe it worth noting that you had completely bypassed the 1st floor apartment, which is occupied not only by white tenants, but also tenants who have a lease. An associate in Bushwick once informed me that she came home in the middle of the day to find her Mexican landlady in her apartment making long-distance phone calls to Mexico, and it made me feel a little better.

My “roommate”, who happens to be a Muslim Moroccan, has also complained about your unannounced entrances, but I will admit to her silence in your presence as well as her insanity. I also admit that I took the apartment without meeting the two young women, but you later conceded her mental instability in text message correspondences. She speaks often of her love for “creating drama” and appears unhealthily obsessed with her mother, strange Facebook men and Jews. She once told me that she would be open to marrying a Jew despite knowing that Allah would later send her to Hell. She chants loudly in Arabic in her room next door to me when she is upset with me, and appears to grow even more mentally unstable the more I ignore her.

Furthermore, my other “roommate”, who happens to be a young Puerto Rican girl, appears to be the recipient of domestic violence at the hands of her boyfriend, who is Albanian, I am told. I admit to being informed of “a boyfriend” of the “Colombian girl”, as you referred to her, staying from time to time, but I was not informed that he practically lives in the residence, and that a Mexican girl who had lived in my room prior had called the police one night as a result of the violence. More than once, I have been in my room listening to him yell and slap and grab her while she cried and either asked him to stop or told him repeatedly that she didn’t want to be with him anymore. She also called me a “black bitch” one night, but I also concede that she uses the phrase “my nigga”, subscribes heavily to Black culture and was generally upset that I had asked her to vacate the bathroom as she had been in there for close to an hour crying after getting her ass beat again. I am sympathetic. I also concede that she has a lot on her plate, being a racist with identity issues being at the bottom of her list.

Actually, this is a letter serving as an official notice that I will be vacating the premises (following exactly 1 year of residence) by Feb 2015. I acknowledge receipt of a new floor within almost 2 months of not paying full rent, but I do not expect the return of my $700 deposit of 1st month’s rent.

I acknowledge leaving my room keys within the vacated room as per your request, but perhaps leaving quite a bit for you to clean up. I had just bought a bed and nightstand and chair that I could not take with me, so I cut and ripped off the top of the mattress and partially dismantled some pieces of furniture so as to make these pieces non-saleable. I have since been informed by the Jamaica Queens courthouse and some random police officers with whom I consulted that I do not have an iota for means of complaint because I had no lease, so while I am very grateful and appreciative of you giving me a place, and our more pleasant interactions, I can roll with bad business, as I understand that it is not to be taken personally.

Sincerely,

Kindra J.F.

Kindra J.F

XX–XX 30th Street

Long Island City, NY 11102


Dedicated to the symbolism of Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives