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West Village Sublet Is Totally Out of (Animal) Control

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Curbed Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible NYC apartment experiences past and present. This week, in honor of Renters Week, we're having a rental horror story showdown. We'll post one or two horror stories each day with a vote for the best on Thursday. The winner will advance to the national round of our network-wide contest. Horror stories to, if you please.

Being from Australia, and arriving in NYC with no job and no visa. I knew my chances of getting a place was limited. So I turned my interest to sublets on craigslist. Found a great place: a guy wanting to sublet whilst he moved in with his girlfriend, either us or he could end it with a months notice. He split up with his girlfriend and we were back on the market looking within 6 months. With job and visa under control but still no credit rating, we decided to get a sub-lease again. Found a 1200 sq foot place in the west village, 2 bedrooms for $2900 a month, bills included. Paid the first, last and a month’s security for a 4 month sublease. He told us as it was a co-op it needed to be on the down low and as he worked in films he was going to be in LA and Cannes. Thinking this was pretty standard. In we moved. Well, tried to move in. We turned up on the Sunday, the house was filthy and he had emptied one cupboard and everything was still there, including a turtle and a snake.
Informing my boyfriend and I that his sublease had fallen through, would we mind looking after the animals which we didn’t want to do. He then started to hint that he would like to sublease our spare room. If we hadn’t paid so much than we probably would have walked away then and there but alas being $8700 in this was harder than it looked. We informed him that he had until that night to be out, or he could give us the money back and we would find somewhere else. He said he would. We arrive later that evening to find the turtle still there and a note from him saying that he couldn’t give us the mail key and that he was sorry but he couldn’t find someone to take the turtle but he would have to come back everyday to drop new grasshoppers in. Obviously after one or two days of asking him not to come back, we realized this was not working and he was never going to leave us in peace.. He told us that management were on to him and he would have to start sleeping over.

We asked for our money back less the few days we had stayed. He couldn’t give it to us, he had spent it. So we said that he had to leave us in peace for 4 months or find the money. I would arrive back everyday and there were dirty coffee cups in the sink and open mail etc. He clearly had just been hanging out there during the day. In the end I told him that we needed the money back it wasn’t working out, and if he didn’t give it back we would go to management or cops. So he said he would give it to us, he just had to borrow it first. For days, he promised today would be the day the check would come and it never would materialize. Even on the day I thought he would pay, he made out his son had been in a car accident. The next day I threatened to call the police and he gave us all he could lend? Which was $1700 less than we paid out but we were just happy to get out of it. 6 days of hell and $1700 lesson.
· Curbed Horror Stories archive [Curbed]
· All Renters Week 2011 coverage [Curbed]