Landlord Literally Tries to Freeze His Tenant Out of an NYC Apartment — It Gets Worse

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Nov. 28 2023, Published 2:04 p.m. ET

When I was last searching for an apartment, one thing I always checked in the amenities section was central air. My previous apartment didn't have this and as a result, I was forced to be at the mercy of my landlord when it came to the heat. Legally where I was living, they had to turn the heat on by a certain date. Sadly, due to rising global temperatures, that date was always too early. The heat would inevitably kick on when it was still 70-plus degrees out and it was a constant battle.

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New York City resident Sarah Pribis is having the opposite problem with her landlord. She can't get him to turn the heat on, and this has been an ongoing problem for the 10 years she has lived in her rent-stabilized apartment. It's clear he is trying to freeze her out, literally, so he can raise the rent. Sarah isn't planning on going anywhere. She's going to rage against the dying of the heat. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her landlord's shenanigans.

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This woman won't let her landlord force her to move.

Sarah, who goes by @sarahpribis on TikTok, isn't easily bullied. She has been dealing with a terrible landlord who every winter, claims he has turned on the heat in her apartment when in fact he has not. In an enraging series of TikTok videos, Sarah shared screenshots of texts between them as well as his other bizarre efforts to get her to leave.

Her landlord is very interested in Sarah's comings and goings, and consistently texts to ask if she has moved out of the apartment without telling him. She is an actor by trade, which involves the occasional travel. Every time she leaves for an extended period of time, her landlord reaches out and claims someone told him she moved.

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Sarah, who is far more patient than me, always says no and takes the time to explain where she is and why she is there. The reason why he is so interested in her status is if she moves without telling him, this would put her lease at risk. Obviously, that's what he wants. He's clearly trying to build a case for that by suggesting people keep running to him with information about her whereabouts.

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The landlord switches to a different tactic by bringing up the fact that his father once offered to pay Sarah to move out. "You can find really good deals now," writes the landlord after reminding her she could receive payment for vacating the apartment. Sarah let her landlord know that the $10,000 his father offered wasn't enough because she likes living there.

We now get to the heat situation, which really makes my blood boil. Sarah repeatedly requests the heat be turned on and is repeatedly told by her landlord that it is in fact on. She counters with pictures of her thermometer, which tells a different chilly story.

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Each photo shows a slightly colder temperature in her apartment. Sensing that he probably can't argue with science, Sarah's landlord tries to pit her against her own neighbors. "You're the only one in the building who is complaining," he texts. What he doesn't know is, Sarah has been in communication with other people in her building. They are cold too.

Sarah sends over a screenshot of the heat laws in New York City. According to the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), "All residential building owners are required to maintain indoor temperatures at 68 degrees when outdoor temperatures fall below 55 degrees during the day. Indoor temperatures must also be a minimum of 62 degrees overnight, regardless of outdoor temperatures," per their website.

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Sarah sends over another screenshot. This time it's of that day's temperature which is sitting at a frosty 45 degrees. The landlord suggests she runs her space heater "all the time," which is a fire hazard. Everyone in the comments keeps telling Sarah to call 311, which is what the HPD says is the next step. Sadly they show up to scold her landlord and the heat goes on but only for a few days. The dance then begins again.

The heat is just one of his "fear tactics" says Sarah in another TikTok. At some point, her landlord installed a camera that's pointed directly to her front door. There are no other cameras like that in the building. When Sarah decided to cover it up with tape, a voice from the camera suddenly said, "Don't touch it." Like any rational person, Sarah felt immediately violated but legally could do nothing about this.

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So many folks wanted to know why Sarah would possibly stay in such a situation. Well, after dropping a tour of the apartment, it's easy to see why. Not only is it a beautiful space, but she has put a lot of work into it to make it even more stunning. Plus, finding a rent-stabilized apartment in New York City isn't easy.

Only a pile of money that rivals Scrooge McDuck's vault could get me out of this place. Hopefully going viral will help Sarah win the war.

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