Late this past Sunday night, I came home from visiting my girlfriend in DC, opened my bedroom door and walked into a different atmosphere. It was about 90 degrees and so humid that the walls were dripping water.
The floor boards near the heater buckled up, paint and plaster rained from the ceiling and everything in the room was wet. Since an apartment isn’t used to these conditions, it naturally baulked and developed an awful musk, Eau de wet wood.
A steam pipe under my floor burst and was spewing steam for two days while I was away. Everything in my bedroom had different degrees of water damage. All my clothing was soaked. Anything made of wood was warped and peeling.
It wasn’t until Monday (despite frantic cries on Saturday from neighbors also affected to turn off the steam) that they decided to fix the pipe. By then, the damage was done. Not just in my apartment, but below me and two apartments above me.
For the last two days, I have been running a dehumidifier non-stop. Every 12 hours or so, this is what I dump into the tub.
When I finally spoke with Sophia Lamas, who heads these things for BLDG, I thought the conversation would be filled with apologies, promises to fix it, and possibly rent reduction for this month. Instead, the first thing she said was, “I hope you have renters insurance because it’s not our responsibility to cover this.”
That tone was just the beginning from Sophia. I learned that she has a track record from other tenants and was even brought to court for verbal harrasment. She is the wall between tenants and the landlord. Getting anything from her is like getting blood from a stone.
For me, I figured out that I don’t want to deal with at least a month of construction and being displaced. Sophia, claims it will take 3 days to fix my bedroom. I’m skeptical. Tenants tell me stories of routine maintenance that took the building 4 months to finish. She is also trying to have them start construction even before all the moisture is removed. I asked her for what I thought was modest. Reimburse me for the time I can’t live in my apartment in November and allow me to break the lease so I can just move and they can do whatever they want.
She wholeheartedly refused. So for now, I’m sleeping on my couch.
Other tenants in my building have rent stabilization and aren’t so keen on moving. They get treated even worse because she and BLDG know they will tolerate it compared to the alternative of moving. I am paying market rate for my apartment and that gives me more flexibility. However, this doesn’t change Sophia’s attitude towards me. She has only one mode, with one answer. No.
This story doesn’t end with me. What I found out is that BLDG has a history of abuse and neglect for the tenants in their buildings. I have heard awful stories from my neighbors (many have lived more than 40 years in my building). Each story ends the same way, BLDG refusing blame and providing shoddy quick fixes.
They do this because they can. BLDG is a huge company founded by Lloyd Goldman. They control 2 Billion dollars of real estate. They have such deep pockets that threats of suing get completely ignored. They don’t care if they go to court. They know most individuals can’t withstand the fees involved to truly fight them, so they’ll just win by throwing money at it.
Here’s the thing though. I know there must be other horror stories out there. Yelp alone has 9 reviews and 1 star for BLDG. I’ve heard many from just a few fellow tenants in one building. The only way to protect against BLDG is to expose these stories.
I have set up a place to post your stories. If you live in a BLDG building, please post a story. If you don’t, please share this article and maybe it will find someone who does.
Normally businesses that gets bad reviews pay the price. They are incentivized to make sure people are happy with their service. BLDG is completely immune because people continue to rent in their buildings. If enough stories surface and enough light is shed, that can tip the other way.