New York City is a city of tenants, many of which fall prey to the abuse of landlords. Absentee landlords
that mistreat their buildings through various doses of neglect plague the city. The tenants of all classes
remain subject to these negligent landlords that enjoy a sumptuous quality of life largely subsidized by the
tenants they fail to properly accommodate. Kriston Capps detailed this pervasive subsidy in the
Bloomberg CityLab article “New York Is A City of Renters at Every Stage of Life,” stating that “Gotham
renters are paying the way for owners, and renters are not exactly living the dream.”
The dream he is referencing is homeownership. However, if the common renter in New York City
maintains the practical dream of living in a safe environment that promotes security while enabling a
renter’s advancement through life, Kriston’s claim carries truth to more broken dreams than just
The codes and standards meant to be scrupulously followed by landlords in the city are not easily
enforced by city officials. Consequently, landlords appear to act as if the law sits far below them. They
seemingly disregard the law in the same manner they disregard their tenants. This perspective reduces the
strength of their moral compass as well – an opinion to which a multitude of poorly treated tenants
throughout New York City send support.
One tenant, Konrad Bicher, recently gained press for his battles against landlords in the city. The Real
Deal wrote an article titled “‘The Wolf of Airbnb’ Terrorizing Landlords” that was loaded with one-sided
accusations against a tenant courageous enough to battle back against those who many would rightfully
consider “slumlords” that control the fabric of NYC’s housing. The Real Deal, duteously catering to its
audience of property owners who only see their tenants as a means to an end, described Konrad as a
villain because he is battling the landlords of New York (and winning). In a city of neglected tenants
without awareness, energy, or the spirit to stand up against the Goliath of a New York City landlord,
Konrad is bravely fighting the battle against the corruption plaguing the city.
The viciousness of the landlords in New York was immediately clear as Konrad displayed photos of some
of his apartments together with many screenshots of the texts he received from the absentee owners of the
buildings within which his apartments unfortunately reside. The evidence he illuminated served as a
disturbing display of New York City “slumlords” and how they operate.
The spectrum of misconduct by which Konrad’s landlords have victimized him in the past is expansive:
illegal break-ins by his landlord or the landlord’s property manager; illegal lockouts; routine code
violations throughout the buildings and the apartments; renting to tenants such as Konrad without a
Certificate of Occupancy; texts sent to Konrad from landlords requesting that he stage apartments to hide
violations such as an illegally added bathroom and bedroom; threats and harassment directed at not only
Konrad, but to his close peers as well; flooded rooms that develop rat infestation problems; turning off his
gas and hot water until Konrad paid rent; turning off his power; throwing his furniture out of the
apartment after changing the locks; installing cameras outside Konrad’s apartment doors. The list grows
more and more daunting with further investigation.
The integrity by which New York City landlords fail to conduct their duty to tenants is frightening given
their power over such a large share of the city’s population. The corrupt impropriety of these landlords is
strengthened by the scarcity of individuals that stand valiantly in opposition to their goals. After
experiencing the dishonorable acts Konrad encountered just to live in New York City, the powerlessness
of him and his fellow renters ignited him into defensive action. He became the wolf that protects himself
and those around him that are routinely losing the immoral battles initiated by the landlords who own the
city. The battles fought and won by Konrad against multiple landlords in New York hold an appeal that
should resonate with most tenants in the city.
The Real Deal’s article on Konrad unintentionally expressed how submissive the city is to landlords that
many, especially those reading the Real Deal, treat as omnipotent and omniscient. These landlords
celebrated The Real Deal’s article laced with ignorance in its depiction of a tenant as a criminal when
truly he is one of the few individuals carrying the courage and willingness to fight back against the
corruption pervading New York landlords.
Konrad stands out as an easy victim given his loneliness in a daunting battle against the predators preying
over the majority of New Yorkers. His side of the story—the side that represents the defenseless renters in
the city—must be shared. Konrad diligently organized all evidence of any landlord he witnessed blatantly
and aggressively breaking laws in their battle against him, none of which was shared with The Real Deal,
who claimed he is the one doing the terrorizing. But the forum is now open.
This lonely battle is being fought with high hopes for the city’s officials to emerge and minimize the
power that the collection of slumlords hold and abuse as they force hazardous environments upon the
city’s population. Neglect of renters’ environments harms the sanctity of such a prosperous city. It is no
mystery that the environments in which we live and operate hold prominent influence over our health,
habits, and performance. After due consideration, tenants that fight back like Konrad Bicher shine for
their nobility. He is fighting the beast plaguing the greatest city on Earth, and he is winning. This battle
should be celebrated and supported.