A tenant living in a rent-stabilized apartment says that her landlord is trying to force her out of her apartment.
Sarah Pribis, a New York City-based content creator and actor, says that she’s been living in her rent-stabilized Brooklyn apartment for ten years—and that the entire time she’s lived there, her landlord has been trying to get her to move out.
In a TikTok slideshow posted last week, Pribis shows WhatsApp messages that she has received from her landlord. Many include him asking if she’s moved out or still living in the apartment, and accusing her of renting it out to someone else (which is illegal without landlord permission).
“If I was moving out, I would tell you,” Pribis said via text to her landlord. “I’m aware of the rules and wouldn’t want to put my lease at risk.”
Pribis’s landlord is seen asking her if she’s moved out twice via WhatsApp and saying that she can rent a nicer apartment in screenshots she posted on TikTok. The landlord also reveals that his father attempted to pay Pribis to convince her to move out of the apartment, and he asks how much it would take to change her mind.
She also says that her landlord didn’t turn on the heat in the building during “heating season,” which is October 1 to May 31 in New York City, nor did he maintain the building at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during that time, which is required by law.
In a text, Pribis’ landlord also implied that if the building’s rent is low, tenants shouldn’t complain about not having heat. Pribis has said her rent is $2,472 per month.
“They know that they are paying really really cheap rent,” the landlord said via text, referring to the building’s other tenants. “So they don’t think it’s right to complain every second day.”
On Monday, Pribis’ video had over 22 million views on TikTok.
“It is a temporary bandaid,” Pribis says of 311, which is a customer-service number for non-emergency government services in NYC. “He will fix it when 311 comes for a couple of days and then he’ll play games again.”
As for why her landlord is trying to get her to move out and cutting corners when it comes to building maintenance, Pribis says that’s because if she moved out—thereby forfeiting the rent-stabilized price she pays now—her landlord could charge up to the maximum legal limit allowed for monthly rent of the apartment, which is over $1500 more than Pribis pays.
Over the past couple of years, New York City has entered a housing crisis—much of which has played out on TikTok. Tenants have taken to the platform to show the poor living conditions in which they are living, and landlords have pushed back, saying that rent-stabilizing laws prevent them from being able to afford their mortgages.
“We’re now picking up hyper-competition on scarcer and scarcer units,” the City’s Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams, told the Daily Dot in a 2022 interview. “And people who have any sort of means rise to the top in that.”