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When Rats Invade: Surviving an Infested West Village Rental

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Curbed Horror Stories are firsthand reader reports about terrible New York City apartment experiences past and present. This week, in honor of Renters Week, we're having a rental horror story showdown across all Curbed sites, with the winner receiving a staycation. Have a terrible tale to share? It's not too late to submit. Up now: one renter describes coping with a vermin infestation.


I was so excited to be in my first apartment in the West Village. Great location. Rent-stabilized. I could walk to everything. Until the second year I was there, when the rats started to take over. I was in a basement apartment in an older building, and the rats furrowed into the concrete holes outside my apartment. They ran amok—theywere in the walls and went through the garbage outside the door every night. I couldn't sleep for months. The rats made so much noise at night—and were so overpopulated—and my bed was right next to the window. The management company didn't really take our complaints seriously.

One night, I remember, I was excited because the exterminator came. I thought the rats would be gone. As I was looking at my air conditioner from a few feet away, I saw a yellow eye peering towards me from inside the air conditioner. I went to an all-night cafe and had them take out my air conditioner the next morning. There were so many rats that the babies could squeeze in and out of the air conditioner. They could get out before I turned it on and off. Eventually, the management company went in through my apartment to seal up the holes in the concrete. But only after a dead rat turned up outside the front steps, so the whole building could see. It made it better, but you can't ever really get rid of rats.

I got a job out of town and I tried to sublet the apartment. It didn't work out, so I had a friend stop by every couple of weeks to take a look at my place. Before I left for Canada, there were mice trying to get in through the door. I just remember one night when I was asleep, I kept hearing a little scratching sound or something. It was a tail going back and forth from one side of the door to the other, but the mouse couldn't get in. I called my management company a bunch of times when I was in Canada to do something about the mice and they didn't listen. One day my friend called me and explained how she removed a couple dead mice from the traps I had put outside my door before I left.

And then, a few weeks later, my management company called me and told me there had been a bad flood. There was a storm that caused a flash flood, so my apartment and my neighbor's place flooded with sewage. Meaning, sewage that the building didn't dispose of properly. There were up to 7 inches of sewage in parts of the apartment.

Even though the management company told me I could save things, mostly everything was ruined. My management company was happy to let me out of my lease because I paid less than my neighbor, who was suing them. Since I was still working in Canada, I didn't have the energy for that, but they said they would end the lease and pro-rate the rent, as the flood happened the first week of the month.

After weeks of them not returning my phone calls and emails, I still had not received the money. I left them an angry voicemail from China, and I finally got my check along with a request for a promise not to sue them. Getting back $300 from a monthly rent of $1,055 is hardly prorated. But now I am happily in Los Angeles.
· Renters Endure a Comically Bad Super To Live in a Better 'Hood [Curbed]
· New New Yorkers Find Their First Apartment Is Fully Occupied [Curbed]
· Got a Renter Horror Story? You Could Win a Staycation! [Curbed]
· All Renters Week 2015 coverage [Curbed]