Living in New York City often means expensive rent and little space, but sometimes apartments here are...an experience, to say the least. It seems like everyone lives in a building that has its quirks—things like strange-but-creative ways of fitting appliances in, weird structural features, odd smells, and more. Even the best apartments—the ones no one would dare give up their leases on—have their own interesting shortcomings. So, we asked New Yorkers to share their weirdest apartment stories.
A lot of their complaints, while totally frustrating, were pretty standard for tiny New York City apartments—impossibly small closets, minimal counter space, room layouts that don't make that much sense, annoying maintenance issues that never seem to get taken care of, and of course, strange roommates. But some were truly unique, a little concerning, and really just plain weird.
Space is...an issue, to say the least.
"In my last apartment, I couldn't open the dishwasher without scraping it down the front of my fridge. The fridge had grooves from the dishwasher." — Elise, Manhattan
"My first apartment in Manhattan we couldn't sit facing forward on the toilet without lifting our knees. Peed sideways for 2 years." — Elizabeth, Manhattan
Major maintenance issues abound.
"My old apartment in Queens had no ventilation in the bathroom and only a single electric outlet, so the ceiling was constantly getting moldy, we couldn't really set up a fan, and we had to scrape/bleach/paint constantly. For what it's worth, this outlet was directly above the sink. " — Nora, Queens
Some things make absolutely no sense.
"In my first apartment in Manhattan (I didn't see it before moving in), the sink was above the toilet, so there was no mirror in the bathroom, and then the sink literally drained into the tub. So like, toothpaste would be in the tub?" — Kevin, Manhattan
There are some features you'll just never understand.
"We have a door between a bedroom and our kitchen thats glued shut. In my old apartment, the oven door hit the front door when you opened it" — Charlotte, Manhattan
True privacy is hard to come by.
"The window in the shower had no curtain or blinds, so we would have to wait for it to fog up before getting in the shower or give the construction workers on the lot next door quite the show." — Anne, Manhattan
Again, what is privacy?
"We have a window in between two rooms, just like a cut out in a wall?" — Nora, Brooklyn
Sometimes the renovations are just plain lazy.
"When they stained the floors, they went right over a quarter so that it was stuck in the hardwood seal. Who wouldn't pick up a quarter?" — Elise, Manhattan
The designs can be inconvenient.
"Every wall in our living room/kitchen has a large sconce in the center, rather than overhead lighting. You have to hang art etc. around them. I'm actually 80 percent sure they were installed that way to dissuade hanging large fixtures like TVs." — Dana, Brooklyn
Like, really inconvenient.
"My apartment is a converted loft that doesn't have a single light switch. Every light has to be turned on by pull chain! It's annoying because I am short and have to stand on my tiptoes to reach them." — Candace, Brooklyn
Every New Yorker knows this smell.
"My bedroom faced the street, and was on the first floor. So directly outside my windows were the garbage cans. My room always smelled like boiling trash. Opening the windows made it worse, so the summer months were unbearable in there. I had to sleep on the couch." — Meagan, Brooklyn
Management companies aren't always understanding.
"My old management company was sadistic. At 7 am on move-out day, they claimed with ZERO prior warning I had to give them a $1,000 check to use the freight elevator. We also got constantly lectured about the roof—no more than two friends, no alcohol, "proper attire" at all times. Like a college RA...with rent" — Sophie, Manhattan
Utilities—included or not—are sometimes unreliable.
"In my Harlem spot, Con Edison decided to cut our gas without warning. Spent an entire winter using a plug in stovetop that took 20 minutes to boil water. Management FINALLY replaced our stoves/ovens in the spring." — Brynna, Manhattan
And then there are the pigeons.
"The windows were replaced by the previous owner to open like a door and also 'vent' (leaning inwards from the top). They're some weird custom job without screens and too big for those pop in screens. One of the windows opens up to the building's air shaft which is literally infested with pigeons, and we were told repeatedly to not open that window, lest pigeons fly in." — Meg, Brooklyn
...Surprisingly loud pigeons.
"My apartment is nearly ground floor and facing an air chute (I call it a courtyard but no one has access to it and I basically want people to think I'm fancy). A large family of pigeons has taken up residence there and they hoot ALL DAY LONG. Also, pigeon sex is loud. You wouldn't think it but it is." — Sara, Queens
The city never sleeps, and that means you might not either.
"The headboard of my bed shares a wall with a bar & the music is so loud at times I can sing along at 3am instead of sleeping." — Nikki, Manhattan
And this might be the most Brooklyn thing ever.
"I share a ventilation system with a pierogi factory. Some mornings it smells like caramelized onions, sometimes it's boiled cabbage. One time a date thought I was cooking the breakfast. Nope! (It's all very Greenpoint)." — Caitlin, Brooklyn
Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Re-edited from a post originally published 6.27.17-LS