Here are Ten Terrifying New York Housing Stories to Mess Up Your Day


There are so many ways housing in New York can go wrong: a Craigslist scam, a crazed roommate, a radiator that screams like a jet engine without heating the apartment, or, best case scenario, just an enormous rat king that takes up residence beneath the stove. But no matter how bad you think you’ve got it, this Reddit thread of terrible apartment stories has something worse. There are wolf spiders and screaming junkies and cockroaches. Thousands and thousands of cockroaches.

There are dozens of stories on the thread so far, many of them involving vermin, poop, and various kinds of roommate mental instability. Here’s a sampling. Let’s start with the ones that are funny in an awful way and descend downwards, ending with the the stories that make us retch with despair and our souls long to leave our bodies. Gird yourselves:

(All reactions courtesy of Reaction Gifs and Giphy)

– See also: NYC’s Ten Worst Tenants

10. Odd couple:

I had a roommate that was a hippie. She didn’t shave, use deodorant, work out, etc. Her parents dumped $500 into her bank account weekly. She never did laundry. Dishes (including mine that she and the other suitemates would use) would end up growing ecosystems when left in the sink for weeks. I had to wash my dishes in the shower and kept them in my room to avoid sharing. She would have weekly movie viewing parties on weekdays like Tuesday and Wednesday in the living room with far more people than should fit in that room until 2 AM when I was trying to study or sleep. Pubes consistently everywhere in the bathroom. (Mine were a different color so that eliminated that problem.) She took fiber supplements and took the most massive shits that left shit rings in the toilet after she flushed. (Earning her the nickname “Queen of Saturn” from me and my boyfriend.) The final straw was when she left a used tampon behind the toilet. Still don’t understand how you miss throwing it out/dropping it into the toilet.

Appropriate reaction:

Terminator smiling

9. Kool-Aid Man sounds like a real dick:

A guy I used to be friends with lived in Queens and his neighbor was FUCKING crazy. One day while he was at work, his neighbor busted through his wall like Kool-Aid man, leaving a man sized hole in the wall. His neighbor thought my friend was fucking his wife and wanted to kill him.

8. Ordinary Williamsburg Apartment:

While looking for a place I went to look at a place in East Williamsburg kinda near the Morgan L. It was a loft with about seven ramshackle bedrooms with eight roommates already, some stacked on top of each other, most of them closed off with cloth instead of doors, the whole place was probably about a 750sq ft. The shower didn’t work and was made from a plastic water tank and some tubing and was located in a closet along with two cats’ litter boxes.

The table in the main room was covered end to end with empties and then there were stacks of empties near the windows and alongside the walls. When I asked the roommates what they did for fun “We drink a lot.” The “room” was a 5 foot high cubby box up a step ladder with no door.

They wanted 800 dollars a month for it.

7. Love story, with weed:

I was a subletting from this young couple in Queens. Everything was going decently well other than over hearing a few verbal fights between them. Then one day I get a call from the girl’s sister asking when I was going to be back at the apartment, because both of my roommates were in jail.

Long story short, it turned out that she assaulted him and he defended himself, then they both called the cops on each other. The cops came quickly, and they forgot that they had left a POUND of weed out in the open.

They used my security deposit on bail, and the girl apparently snapped and had a mental breakdown of some sort. She accused me of being a cop because on my license I used to live on a street that ended with “Court.” So she apparently thought I lived in a courthouse or some shit. I noped out as soon as I could and found my own place.

Appropriate reaction:

6. Furniture party:

I once had one of my roommates move out on short notice and had to rush to find a replacement. My other roommate found someone through her coworker that needed a 3 month sublet. The girl came over on 2 separate occasions to take a look at the apartment and the room, and decided that she wanted to move in, everything seemed to be going smoothly.

My first red flag was when she asked me the day before moving in if it was okay for her to bring a “large desk and small couch” that she really didn’t want to part with. Now, my apartment is a loft so it’s pretty open feeling, but it’s not actually that big, the bedrooms are tiny, and it was obviously already fully furnished. I told her we could try and find room for it, and she assured me that if I ended up not being okay with it she would move them to storage.

The next morning she came with movers to bring her bed, dresser and the aforementioned furniture. The couch actually fit okay, and we propped up the disassembled desk in a corner – a slight eyesore but not too in the way, I could live with it for a few months. Sublet girl left to get the rest of her personal belongs, and my roommate and I left for a friend’s barbecue for the day.

What we came home to that night was surreal and terrifying (I should add that we ate a pot brownie and were super-duper stoned.) When we entered we found what appeared the be the entire contents of another apartment in our apartment. Tables, stools, chairs, dressers, a standing keyboard, floor lamps, table lamps, full length mirrors, a full set of pots and pans, plates and flatware, a toaster oven, and just boxes upon boxes of things. You could barely walk it was so cluttered.

When we told her that she had brought way more stuff than we agreed to she started insisting that she could make it all fit. Apparently, she had planned on just getting rid of most of her furniture but “at the last minute realized it would be a waste of money” (she seriously phrased it just like that,) so she had her dad help her bring it all over while we were gone. I told her there was no way it would all fit and that she would have to move the stuff into storage (as she had previously offered) and she flipped out. She started screaming about how I thought I knew everything was generally very rude and insulting, telling me how I “must have never lived with roommates before.”

As she became more aggressive I really started to freak out, realizing I was going to have to kick this girl out. I had to just leave the apartment at that point to avoid a full blown panic attack. When I came back I told her that this wasn’t going to work and she had to find somewhere else to live. She continued to be angry and aggressive, screaming at me and throwing a fit, but finally agreed to have all her stuff out by the next week.

Appropriate reaction:

Huh! what?

5. The Double Move:

For a few months during the Summer of 2009 I was floating between different living situations in Greenpoint while waiting for a more permanent place to become available.

One location was near McGolrick Park, which I found on Craigslist. I checked out the room and met the roommates, and it seemed ideal for the month or two I’d be there. I rented the U Haul, got a friend to help me move, packed up my belongings and moved them to this new spot on the top floor of a four floor walk up. It took a good part of a day, and as is customary, I took my helper friend out to dinner after the move.

After dinner I went back to the new apartment to unpack and setup my bed. I get in the front door, turn on the lights, and the walls and floor are moving: cockroaches of all sizes, thousands of them. I’ve never seen so many roaches. I stood there in disbelief. Fear turned to anger.

I called up my buddy and told him the situation. He offered me his couch to sleep on for the night, so I headed down to Williamsburg.

The next day I went to work and told my coworkers the story. One of them knew of an open apartment down the street from the infested place that I could use for two weeks. My boss told me to deal with is ASAP, so I left work, went back to U Haul, packed my shit up and moved.

Moving twice in a 24 hour period is not fun.

4. Shower Party Favors:

The ceiling above the bathtub dripped for over a year. Luckily, it was the best place to have a leak. But the thing dripped almost daily.

The super, management and 311 were called on a biweekly basis. The super would come, paint over the leak and the new paint would fall into the tub with that night’s dripping.

One day it was real bad. Water bubbles appear all over the ceiling, a stream of water running down the walls. The super told me he’d be over in 20 minutes. I wanted to take a quick shower, so I hopped in. I stepped forward to pick up the soap and the ceiling caved in on me. But it wasn’t just the drywall, oh no, the ceiling had all sorts of goodies stuffed in it: a Trader Joes bag, tiles, sponges, t-shirts, towels, rags, tupperware. It was as if the previous tenants made the same complaints and the super just stuffed junk in to absorb the leak.

The super repaired the leak by patching the hole, and the whole process repeated itself over and over again. He told me there was no leak.

After over 20 calls to 311 a lawyer contacted me (how did they find out?). I told management it just three weeks ago they retiled the bathroom upstairs and redid our ceiling. It hasn’t leaked since.

3. All the rats everywhere:

I was living in Bushwick, and after Sandy, a lot of Brooklyn’s rats got pushed inland. One night i heard a rustle, something got got on a plastic bag. It was too loud to be a mouse. After investigating my girlfriend and I found large droppings under the sink, so we invested in glue traps. The next night, the rat got into a bag of cadbury eggs left on the table. So I think: great, they like chocolate. I put the eggs on the glue traps hoping it would catch it. The next morning, I woke up to see all of the eggs plucked off. Smart bastard. So instead of placing the glue traps in different parts of the kitchen, I put them all together like one large glue trap valley, and this time it worked. Later that night I heard a squeaking and the rat got all jumbled up in traps, hysterically scampering across the floor. I had to throw another glue trap on top of it, making a bit of a rat-trap sandwich. I knew I had to kill it as reminded by my girlfriend, standing on a chair screaming bloody murder — it was honestly the largest animal I’ve ever had to kill. Rising to the occasion, I crushed it with my foot until the squeaking stopped. You know in movies when the villain suffocates the person in the hospital with a pillow? It was kind of like that.

I lifted my foot and took a deep breath — sending a prayer out to the rat gods. There was silence for a moment. An then it started squeaking… again. Because, as I would find out later, rats can RESTART their fucking hearts. So we go through the whole excruciating scene again, with the suffocating with the foot like the villain with the pillow in the hospital until this time I was sure it was dead. I didn’t pray to the rat gods that time. Undead fucker.

Crisis over. Right? What I didn’t know was that, when you see one rat…it means there are hundreds. Rats are routine based, they have a list of stops per day, and if they put you on their schedule, there is no way getting off of it. So it began that every night, as soon as the sun went down, they came. Like gremlins. The following things actually happened:

  • woke rat up after getting home from work, was sleeping in my sweater
  • rat jumped out of garbage, as I was discarding soup contents.
  • woke rat up after getting home from a show, was sleeping in my bed.
  • scratching, lots of scratching everywhere.
  • dead rat under kitchen table
  • rat staring at me having sex
  • rats playing in the walls. loudly.
  • two rats hiding out in my kitchen
  • rat poop on my bed

Appropriate reaction:

when my friends send me a disgusting picture thinking it will be funny


2. Wild Kingdom:

Used to live in a five bedroom basement apartment in Alphabet City. It was gross, and dark, and damp. We kept it very clean though, and the rent was absurdly cheap so I was willing to put up with literally anything, including:

Lots and lots of wolf spiders. Wolf spiders in the bed, wolf spiders in your shoes, wolf spiders crawling on naked girlfriend’s back as she slept.

A thousand times more of those whiskery centipedes. We got used to those and just let them live to help us out against the…

Massive waterbug infestation. Every. Single. Morning. I would hunt and kill a huge cockroach before taking a shower. But that was fine by comparison because…

A rat died in the bathroom ceiling, it wasn’t the first (we’ll get to that later), but it led to…

A huge infestation of maggots dropping out of the bathroom ceiling fan on naked female roommate as she was about to get into the shower. Those weren’t the only larva in the bathroom though, at another point we had these really long thin worms attacking our toilet brush.

Unstoppable regular cockroaches everywhere. Every single appliance would have tiny dead cockroaches in the little LED screen. We were like “fuck it” though because you can only kill so many bugs in a day.

Then there was the rat invasion. Somehow rats managed to work their way into the walls of the apartment from the front of the building. We’d hear them running across the ceiling, fucking, fighting, etc. I’ll always remember the Beijing Olympics as being punctuated by the screams of a constant rat orgy. Then the exterminator came, and then we had a solid New York summer of decomposing rat smell.

And yet, despite all this the place remained populated (not by me, but by other roommates) all the way up until Sandy took it out.

Appropriate reaction: Sheldon hyperventilating Big Bang Theory

1. Oh dear God:

I had neighbor a few years ago. It was an older woman who apparently let a war vet stay with her some 2 years before I moved in, but he was only supposed to be there for “a few weeks”.

Well I frequently told my landlord about the very wrong noises, shouts, screams coming from the apartment. Sometimes so loud I’d leave my apartment to go to the bar and I could still hear the sounds all the way down the block. Moans, yelps, “fuck me, fuck you”, whimpers… very disturbing stuff.

The cops would sometimes spend an hour or more when they’d get called trying to get in, or get the guy in question out. I watched him take on 12 officers in a scuffle outside our doors in the hallway, him spitting, swinging, yelling “I’ll KILL you!” usually followed by “Just KILL me!”… Always with the same end result. Dude getting put on a gurney and mask looking like Hannibal.

After almost 2 years of living next to this, the landlord got eviction granted. The woman was taken to the psych ward and put under suicide watch and some family of hers was contacted. Apparently the war-vet was physically and mentally torturing her and another war-vet that was a quadriplegic. Blood letting, drugs, fucked up fetishes… the dirt/disease and stench of the place when they finally started clearing it out… My landlord likened it to “Up the river in Apocalypse Now” in terms of depravity.

After that the roaches largely left the building and now there is a nice family living there.

Appropriate reaction: That one is too terrible for a funny GIF. Never mind. We’re very sorry for ruining your morning.