Excerpted from Shady Landlord Schemes And How To Fight Back by Christopher Steiner and Maureen Farrell, in Forbes.com
Two winters ago Astoria, N.Y., resident Rachel Colley was freezing in her own apartment. Looking to squeeze a few pennies, her landlord refused to crank up the heat. Colley, a senior account executive at JS2 Communications in New York, called the city several times to complain. An inspector eventually came to the building where, in its warmest spots, the temperature remained below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cornered, Colley’s landlord responded by cranking the heat up to a Lucifer-like 90 degrees, prompting Colley and her flat mates to open the windows. Scrooge, anticipating the move, was waiting. He snapped pictures of their apartment from the outside of the building and threatened to show the city the pictures as proof Colley had been lying about the lack of heat.
Not willing to go to war, Colley let the matter die–along with her heat. Bundled up, she gutted out the remainder of the lease and moved.
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Greedy landlords will resort to a range of tactics to make you pay more than you should. The worst are downright thieves, a nasty fact to which Alicia Stetzer can attest. A consultant to nonprofits, Stetzer put down a $3,300 deposit on a Manhattan brownstone in October 2009. The day before Stetzer was due to move in, the landlord called with bad news: Her former tenant refused to move out, and the situation couldn’t be resolved quickly. The landlord assured Stetzer that her deposit would be returned shortly.
A year and two court dates later, Stetzer still doesn’t have her money. The case continues. I’m not letting her get away with doing bad things to good people, spits Stetzer.