Stuck With Dermot Management, A Modern-Day Slumlord

A reader writes:

A major NYC real estate corp [Dermot Management] is seriously fucking its tenants, myself included, and I just signed my lease a week ago and am now stuck with these bastards.

I just moved into an apartment at 121 Seaman Ave., in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan.

The property is managed by the Dermot Company, which has been snatching up properties all around New York City and providing broker free rentals through sites like, which is where I found my apartment.

The apartment seemed like a steal: A lot of space, a pretty nice building, a decent neighborhood (if far as hell from all civilization) and a reasonable rent. However, upon moving in to my new apartment, I made a few alarming discoveries: My kitchen is infested with cockroaches, I have only intermittent hot water, and there are no smoke detectors in my apartment.

Though, at my lease signing, Dermot assured me that they would be prompt in responding to any maintenance issues, I have found that they keep their maintenance line locked in “Do Not Disturb” mode 24/7 and do not return calls under any circumstances. It has been over a week since I have called to complain about these issues — all three of which are clear violations of NYC housing code — and I have yet to receive a call back.

Last night, I asked a neighbor about her experience with Dermot. She told me that the tenants in my building — those who have had the will to stay and fight — have been organizing against Dermot and that they’ve already called in the City Council for help. She says that she has personally filed a half-dozen complaints with 311 in the past year, that the hot water has been an issue for a long time, and that when she withheld rent, as was within her rights, Dermot wrecked her credit. She said that half the tenants have vacated in the last year, three on my floor alone, and that she’s moving out before her lease is up because she doesn’t want to deal with Dermot anymore.

A NY1 article published earlier this month (that I wish I’d read before signing my lease) says:

Tenants [of another property in Brooklyn] say they’re being forced out of their rent controlled and rent-stabilized homes by new landlords who are transforming them into luxury apartments. They claim they’re being harassed with all sorts of tactics, from frivolous lawsuits to challenges to their leases, to being denied basic repairs…

…Jackson’s been living in a rent-stabilized apartment at 99 Lafayette for 16 years. She says her problems began when the building was bought by the Dermot Company in February. The same developer also owns 266 Washington, where many long-time residents shared similar stories.

I called my City Council representative to look into this matter. The conversation began like this:

“Hi. I just moved into the neighborhood and have found my new landlord to be somewhat negligent. It’s a management company called Dermot.”

“Do you live at 121 Seaman?” the councilman’s associate asked, instantly naming my address.

“Uh… yeah.”

“Yeah, they’re a big problem,” she said, warning me that I should file a rent overcharge form in order to check whether they’re also ripping me off on the rent, which has been her experience. She also urged me to attend the upcoming tenant meeting in my building, which she will be present at.

I offer this as a cautionary tale to my fellow New Yorkers and those presently hunting for apartments in NYC: Stay the fuck away from Dermot. They are, to put it mildly, indifferent to the needs of their tenants; and to put it fairly, douchebags.

-Orthodox Anarchist

More like Dermot Mismanagement [Orthodox Anarchist]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Johnny_boy says:

    I live next door! In a co-op.

  2. JKinNYC says:

    Read your lease carefully. There may be a pest control clause in there that obligates them to get an exterminator. YOu may be able to withhold to cost of one from the rent. You have any lawyer friends who can help?

    Sounds like there is a basis for them not upholding their end of the lease contract.

    By the way, does anyone own or

  3. nursetim says:

    Not to say all apartments are like this, but this would be an argument in favor of home ownership the next time it comes up here. This reminds me of the movie The Super with Joe Pesci. Guess truth is stranger than fiction.

  4. JKinNYC says:

    Oh yeah, forgot to add about the pest thing, that an old lease i signed had such a clause and when the landlord said to deal with it, I just withheld the fees from the rent. They tried to complain, and Faxed them a copy of the lease with the section circled. That was it.

  5. JKinNYC says:

    @nursetim: Sorry, this isn’t really an argument for home ownership. You could buy a home with all these problems and have to fix this expensively. This is an argument for doing your research on your rental properaty/landlord before signing a lease.

  6. popeye_doyle says:

    Why do you call Dermot a “modern day slumlord”? Do you think slumlords disappeared in the 17th century? Slumlords, a beautiful word by the way, are with us always.

  7. ornj says:

    That really sucks, but why did the tenet not notice these things before? If you saw the apartment you should have checked for smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, cleanliness, and tested the water.

    It’s not always possible but asking a few building tenets about their experience with management would have been smart as well as researching the Dermot Company (and it seems like you would have found a lot).

    Assurance is meaningless, always get everything in writing. Never take management or the landlord at their word, you will only get burned eventually, in your case it was right away.

    It sucks you are in this situation but you walked right into it.

  8. It doesn’t matter what the lease says in New York. I’m a renter that’s had to look into it in the past, and a landlord in New York State is required to take care of pest control by law. You can read about this and more by heading over to the NYS Tenant’s Right Guide.

  9. ancientsociety says:

    If the apartment lacks smoke detectors, there’s a good chance it’s in violation of the city building code (it certainly would be here in Chicago). Call the city building/fire inspectors. I had to do it with some of my old landlords when even withholding rent would not get them to fix their buildings. Two weeks after inspection, problems all solved.

  10. hypnotik_jello says:

    @nursetim: Hahaha, good one. Do you know how much an apartment would cost in Manhattan?

  11. JKinNYC says:

    @ancientsociety: Forgot about that. I’m pretty sure you are correct. I know it worked when my landlord refused to install windows guard.

    @thnkwhatyouthnk: I was more suggesting the part about withholding the cost from rent and getting your own.

  12. hypnotik_jello says:

    @ancientsociety: Regardless if it’s a violation or not and whether the slumlord gets dinged, it’s bullshit that the slumlord can retaliate against the tenant buy darkening their credit. Complain and you basically get your credit wrecked.

  13. dsean says:

    FYI – In New York, if you want to withhold rent until problems are fixed, you have to put it into an interest-bearing escrow account.

    Things to do:
    1) contact legal aid – their housing division can help you organize this type of thing [the work will likely be farmed out to junior associates at Big law firms].

    2) Organize a rent strike. Again, put the $$$ in an interest-bearing account for the benefit of the landlord so that you’re doing it legally.

    3) File a complaint in the housing court. If I remember correctly, it’s at 26th and Madison. Your allegations will be that they’ve violated their lease obligations, their certificate of occupancy, etc. etc.

    4) File a complaint with the City housing department for the hot water and infestation issues.

    5) Contact the fire marshall – if they’re having water issues, then the building’s standpipes for the firefighters may not be in working order.

    You could probably break your lease if you give them 30 days notice. Check your lease to see what they’re required to do. If they’re not doing it, send them a letter via certified mail notifying them that if they don’t cure the problems within 30 days, you’re voiding the lease. They can try to sue you, but they won’t win. They can also try to mess with your credit, so keep an eye on that and dispute anything that they put on your report.

    Good luck.

    Oh, and look at Brooklyn – it’s so much nicer than Inman Park.

    /Former NY-er
    //Still licensed to practice NY law
    ///don’t anymore, so check with someone who does before listening to me – this is your disclaimer – You’re not my client and this isn’t legal advice, just what I’d do given the same situation, yadda, yadda, yadda

  14. Trampoline says:

    Jesus Christ, ORNJ.
    For one thing: it’s tenant. For another thing: Jesus Christ.

  15. City_Dater says:

    Since you find it so far from “civilization” you could always just break your lease and leave… Inwood is a terrific neighborhood, and the last thing we need is more whiny bastards wondering why there aren’t more bars and a Starbucks.

  16. JohnMc says:

    Ben, Ben,

    You run Consumerist and have not eaten your own dogfood? Shame!

    You should have —

    * Contacted the BBB on the landlord to see if there were any complaints.
    * Contacted the rent board if they had problems with the landlord.
    * More thoroughly inspected the abode for problems.
    * Did you take pictures of each wall of every room, the kitchen and utility area if any? Had the manager sign the back of them then an there?
    * You did ask for a move in walk thru didn’t you?

    My last observation — get out of the city. You ‘work’ in an environment online that can be done anywhere. Life is too short, be where you want to be.

  17. JustAGuy2 says:

    Good source for NYC tenant info is

  18. hypnotik_jello says:

    @JohnMc: Sign the back of the pictures then and there? Who carries a polaroid around when they are apartment hunting? Do they even make polaroid cameras anymore? Given the highly competitive nature of some apartments in nyc, I doubt thorough research is always practical.

  19. in-twine says:

    As somebody that used to organize tenant unions, DESEAN is dead on. Look for the self-interest and attack it. Get the building organized and identify a collective goal. Anything you can do to restrict cash flow and force fines, the more attention you will get from the slumlord. The downside is there will (95% certain) be retaliation. But if you prepare and understand the statutes that govern the situation and get enough people involved, you can work out of any situation. Don’t do this alone because you’ll be easier to exploit.

  20. cashmerewhore says:

    The author seems clear as to what his rights are in NY. Here in my state things have to be responded to in a manner described in your lease (the complex I worked with for nine months stated 24 hours). Water leaks & lack of heat were emergencies that they could not bill for, and would fix after hours.

    If the complex did not comply with this, since it was in the lease, it gave the tenants the right to break their lease without recourse and sue for damages.

    Also, in a large building of units, you usually don’t get a walk through of the specific one you are renting (don’t know if this is the same in NYC). I rarely saw any of my apartments before signing the lease (you can request it, but if they’re not ready to show the complex does not have to show you it).

  21. tadowguy says:

    How can one be “far from civilization” in NYC? Is that NYC code for “only 500,000 people live on my block”?

  22. Ben Popken says:

    @hypnotik_jello: It’s a letter from a reader, Mister McCrazypants.

  23. Amelie says:

    Smart people talk about what they know. Cockaroaches generally don’t make themselves evident until dark. The apartment “appeared” to be clean.

  24. luckybob343 says:

    Regardless of what rights you may or may not have to withhold all or a portion of your rent, in any landlord/tenant dispute the best thing to do is pay on time and give the landlord no reason to evict you. The absolute worst thing that can happen is for a landlord-tenant dispute to become further tangled with an eviction. Being labelled “evicted” in court is similar to being labelled a leper in Biblical times. If you keep doing what you were supposed to, and the landlord commits wrongs against you, you appear much better in any judicial or governmental hearing.

    Also, make sure to document everything. If you’re calling, record your calls (if legal in your area). If writing, send two letters: one standard mail and one certified mail. Keep a third copy for yourself, and establish and memorize your mailing routine so that you can explain it at length if questioned.

    Finally, as my mother always told me, pick and choose your arguments. Learn to recognize what are minor complaints (no smoke detectors? they’re $10 for two at Home Depot. Roaches? A box of traps are $5) and what are major (no/inconsistant hot water). If you lob enough complaints, landlords tend to tune you out as *that* tenant.

  25. samurailynn says:

    @luckybob343:If you lob enough complaints, landlords tend to tune you out as *that* tenant.

    And that is exactly why I’m glad that I am a homeowner now. We’ve had to fix a few things in the new home, but there is no landlord complaining that I make too many complaints. I have become so fed up with landlords that think they rule the world just because they own the building that you live in.

  26. cashmerewhore says:


    Don’t withhold it. Pay it into escrow with the courts and state that it is not to be released until your complaints are resolved. They legally can not do anything to you since you have legally documented the problems, and the rent was paid.

  27. depardoo says:

    I thought Seaman Avenue was in Chelsea.

  28. JustAGuy2 says:

    One thing to be aware of – if you get involved in a housing court proceeding, it can become EXTREMELY difficult to rent another place in New York City, as most landlords check a database of housing court records (aka the “blacklist), and will refuse to rent to someone on there, regardless of why, or even if the tenant won the case.

  29. hypnotik_jello says:

    @JustAGuy2: Yeah, that’s pretty craptacular.

  30. Paul D says:

    New Yorkers crack me up.

    You live in Manhattan, yet bitch that you’re “far as hell from all civilization.”

    That’s like someone living in Paris or Milan and bitching that there’s “no culture around here, man!”

  31. kc2idf says:

    Scum like this are everywhere. Up here in the Albany area, I can think two or three such slumlords easily. My mother got into an apartment owned by Ploof Realty and left the second that her lease was up. She had mostly the same problems listed in the article above.

    Gotta love it!

  32. JKinNYC says:

    @Paul D: To OP’s defense, it’s kind of a running joke that that area of Manhattan is practically in Canada. It is way way way up there. I’d be willing to guess that comment was mostly tongue in cheek.

  33. PaperBoy says:

    @Paul D:

    No, it’s naive out-of-towners that crack New Yorkers up. There are some very nice neighborhoods and beautiful blocks in the Hieghts-Inwood area and some reasonable (for Manhattan) rents. Wonder why? You only have the A train and Browadway local to get anywhere. The nearest place to see a movie is either 60 blocks downtown or Jersey. Concert? ditto. Nightlife? Yup. Furniture store, decent supermarket, restaurant, bistro, electronics store, etc., etc.

    That’s why it’s a bargain.

  34. missdona says:

    I used to live up there ::represent!::

    People from mid/downtown don’t want to come visit and some people believe it’s actually the Bronx, and forget about the people from Brooklyn.

    You have to explain, Manhattan is an island. If it’s on the island, it’s in Manhattan.

    I had a good time up there, until the rash of tire slashings.

  35. Paul D says:

    @JKinNYC: Fair enough, but I’ve heard other New Yorkers (here and elsewhere) make similarly asinine statements. Not to mention the “bridge & tunnel” pejorative.

    I’m amazed that some people are able to see where they’re going when they walk around NYC with their noses so far in the air.

  36. frugalux says:

    Actually, NurseTim, “The Super” was based on a real case. 1n 1988, Judge Ira Harkavy sentenced a slumlord to live for 15 days in his delapidated Crown Heights building: []

    Doesn’t sound like Dermot has even *visited* this building lately.

  37. adehus says:

    one word: ESCROW!

    Get enought tenants to put their rent in escrow, and things will change. It’s done wonders for me in the past.

  38. benmaimon says:

    Inwood’s a spectacular neighborhood filled with gorgeous scenery and the last place in the city where you can reckon at length with the island’s natural history.

    Plus the best wine shop in town, PJ’s, is up there. So if you’re lonely, at least you can drown yours sorrows with a libation that’s tasty and inexpensive.

  39. NereusRen says:

    “Tenants say they’re being forced out of their rent controlled and rent-stabilized homes”

    News flash: you pay less than the market price, you get less than the normal value. The original submitter wasn’t clear about whether his apartment specifically was rent-controlled, but it sounds like it. I would have thought consumerists here would be a bit more realistic about getting something that “seemed like a steal” from a marketplace as active as NYC housing!

    That said, you can simply provide notice and move somewhere else, since a broken lease means you are not obligated to hold up your end, i.e. continue paying. Yes, it sucks to have you move all your stuff again, but it should feel even worse to continue giving them your money.

    Don’t let them hurry you through the process at your next place. Ask them upfront if there are any known issues, and write in their response to the lease. Read the entire lease until you understand the purpose of every clause, and make any changes you want. I’ve made a number of lease change suggestions at both apartments I’ve lived in, and not one of them have been rejected! Even when I went “too far” just so I could concede the point during negotiation and back down to the change I really wanted, they just accepted it. I was actually pretty surprised at how easy it was. Once was with an individual landlord, once was with a large property company.

  40. tekmiester says:

    Just remember, as you are taking your freezing cold showers, watching an army of cockroaches scamper across the floor, curl up in the fetal position and while slowly rocking back and forth, keep repeating to yourself over and over, “at least I don’t live in jersey”

  41. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @PaperBoy: 60 blocks? Ooohhh wow thats a terrible burden to bear. When I lived in Wichita I had to drive 3 1/2 hours to KC or OKC just to see a concert. Big bands don’t like cities where there are only 300k or so in the city.

    I have to ride the Subway for an hour to get to Staples center to see a Hockey game or concert but I don’t complain after having to drive over 200 miles before. It’s all perspective, I hate L.A. but it does have good benefits at times.

    I visited NYC a couple of times nice to be a tourist but I would go completly crazy if I had to live there. Way too many people, its bad out here at times but at least we are a little more spread out. L.A. is 469.1 sq miles NYC is 322. Our poulation density is 8,203 VS 27,083.

  42. nursetim says:

    Just to expand on my comment, I was refering to the concept of being dependent on someone else to fix something or take care of a problem. I am aware that things can be hidden when buying a house, but you can go after the previous owner if they fail to disclose something in theory, if not always in real life. Sounds like this company is willingly ignoring problems that they should take care of, and the OP is being held hostage if you will. I guess my Libertarian side of me cringes at the thought of giving some of your freedom to someone else, especially when it comes to housing.

  43. JKinNYC says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: Oh, god, you are going to open the LA vs NY can of worms??? Really? Traffic vs Subways. Shitty weather vs earthquakes/fires/mudslides. TO each their own, but you can have your traffic jams, minimal mass transit and gorgeous weather.

  44. pepelicious says:

    Why did you sign anything without first going through the apartment and checking to make sure everything worked? Did you sign the lease sight unseen?

    I can’t feel sorry for this person at all.

  45. winux says:

    This is why when I look at moving, I never pay a deposit or sign the actual lease before I see the actual apartment I am moving into. I’ve had some deny me that, and I walked out and then made complaints to the local gov’t and the apartment owners (usually some office manager twit tells me no, and once I contact their actual owners, they send me a nice letter of apology and want me to re-think my decision).

  46. hypnotik_jello says:

    @pepelicious: because roaches come out and play during the day

  47. Brad2723 says:

    1. Put your complaints in writing (sent via certified mail) and give them reasonable time to respond.

    2. call the health department.

    3. You may not legally withhold rent pending a resolution of your dispute. You still have to pay. What you need to do is get in contact with your bank and set up an escrow account. You pay the rent into the escrow account and once your dispute has been resolved, the money gets handed over to your landlord.

  48. MollyNYC says:

    @Paul D: You’re welcome to never, ever come here.

  49. Sonnymooks says:

    I am farmiliar with dermont management (some of my current tenants were their former tenants).

    I can tell you this point blank, with them, if you withold rent, they will FUCK your credit up, they absolutly bury it, and it shows up on the reports, which make it almost impossible to get another apartment in NYC.

    Best advice, get the hell out of their building, Dermont is not only bad in management, they are absolutly vindictive and petty, and they “stain” former tenants.

  50. Sonnymooks says:


    Depends on what type of landlord you have.

    Having dealt with Dermonts former tenants, they (also Pinnacle group to some extent also) destroy the credit ratings and stain the credit reports of their tenants, making it next to impossible for them to get an apartment from another landlord (or buy a condo, or co-op). They also have the resources to fight anything they want in court, the will to fight anything in court, and the arrogance to blow everyone off, and they come across as sadistic with how they attack peoples credit.

  51. Crymson_77 says:

    @Sonnymooks: So…where is that wonderful SAG at? I know he is busy but this is a PRIME target for his concerns!!!

  52. asscore says:

    I have tons of expeience with renting, and if I had any advice it’d be this:

    NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER rent from a corporate landlord, management firm, or any other kind of business. If they have a background check or any kind of application tell them your not interested and walk out.

    Find a nice old lady (or man) that owns property and uses it as his retirement fund and rent from them.

    I know some of you will say “oh good luck finding that!”, but it’s not that hard. The last four apartments I’ve had over the last 11 years were all privately owned. I never had a single problem getting anything maintenance related resolved. And as an added bonus the people you rent from are good and decent people, not some corporation worried about profit.

  53. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @JKinNYC: No not at all, I hate L.A. I moved out here against my will. My wife wouldn’t move because her family is all here. I can’t wait to get the f’out myself.

    Traffic jams yep we got em in spades.

    Minimal mass transit unfortunatly so. I have to take 4 different buses just to get to the subway station.

    Weather..ehh I am tired of sun all the time. I actually miss the rain, and not the light misting of moisture they call rain out here. I want the torrential downpour with thunder and lightning type.

    I wasn’t bashing NYC at all I was just saying its all about perspectives. And there are a hell of a lot of people in NYC.

  54. Sonnymooks says:

    Cuomo? He is busy chasing make believe bad guys, he is also an idiot.

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  56. christoj879 says:

    New York has a law called “Warranty of Habitability,” which means you should have no problem doing a “repair and deduct,” which is where you perform the repairs and deduct them from the rent.

    Many states have similar laws, I’ve encouraged friends to try this route when their landlord was being slow to fix things. Fortunately for them, the problem was fixed before it went any further.


    Good luck.

  57. Sonnymooks says:


    I’ve dealt with tenants who have tried to use “warrant of habitability”, its often misused by both the landlord and tenants, and NYC would be wise to one day clarify it. That said, a company like Dermont (and Pinnacle) would refuse to acknowledge it, and simply start ripping apart your credit while litigating the crap out of said tenant.

    Thw Warranty of Habitability is a tool better used against a small mom and pop type landlord or a family owned building type of situation, then against a large corporation, most of the tenant tools of redemption get blunted by larger management companies where there is a disconnect in the decision making between owner, and the advice he gets from his/her/their lawyers who always wish to proceed in the most aggressive manner possible, even when simple costs to benefits and risk to rewards say this is the wrong course of action.

    I.E. think of the major real estate company that sues a tenant in small claims court over owing say a couple of dollars they deducted from the rent to buy maybe a mouse trap, and that company spending hundreds of bucks an hour getting a lawyer to pursue what is basically pocket change, then realize that large management companies can and will do this……and destroy said tenants credit rating, and stain the credit report while they are at it.

  58. akalish says:

    Follow everyone’s advice with the aim being to create a paper trail of the management’s insufficiency. At least you’ll have proof with records on your side when you need it!

    My experience with this type of thing was in the state of Wisconsin which is far less friendly to renters than NYC is. Nonetheless, when my building’s ceiling caved in during a roof repair, I took many photographs of the leaks and damages in my apartment, complained to the housing authority and just moved out (ignoring the required 60 day notice) and returned the keys by mail. The management was so completely mis-managing that they knew they were up a creek legally. Almost everyone in the building ended up moving out. When we received a bill for the rest of the year lease’s rent due (several thousand dollars) from the management company, we returned it to them with a letter basically stating that they had no legal recourse given the state of the building and they knew it so they didn’t pursue it. On that note, not sure if anyone’s recommended this yet, but try getting the Department of Health in there. I bet you could get them to declare it uninhabitable it the roaches are that bad, or at least have them demand extermination asap.

  59. tmanAg08 says: and are both available…

  60. Sonnymooks says:


    The NYC department of health is pretty much overwhelmed, as are several agencies which would normally be of use.

    That said, I know Pinnacle (not sure if Dermont also fits this, they probably do) simply ignores NYDofH and other agencies, takes the hit on fines (actually, gets fined, and simple deadbeats) and persecutes said tenant anyway with court, by forcing said tenant to miss work, to handle a unjustified court case, where the agencies paperwork proves the management company is negligent, but said company steamrolls right ahead undeterred and continues fighting, thus, in a sick twisted and perverse way, hurts the tenant in several different ways, from credit, to time, to money, etc.

    NYC laws are very pro-tenant….if they are dealing with small landlords, family landlords, or simply mom and pop, a big corporation however, will steamroll said tenants ass at will, with no problem and fight said government while doing it.

  61. laschinches says:

    My experience with Dermot goes somewhat similar to the article–market rate two-bedroom in Astoria with lots of space and light. But what we couldn’t see by seeing the place for half an hour are: bed bugs, cockroaches (in all the rooms and kitchen), squeaky floors, and just luke warm water in kitchen. It took me 5 months to realized the insects that were biting me occasionally were bed bugs. Turns out the apartment had a bout of it in summer 2006, but they hired an incompetent exterminator who sprayed pesticides all over, which ended up killing only a few, but both buildings are now hugely invested. It took us another 4 months, after calling Dermot’s VP of Operations, to finally hire another exterminator. But the cockroaches keep coming back and the super had not done anything to keep the floor above us from squeaking, nor make sure we have hot water in the kitchen.
    Finding this blog and comments makes me feel like I’m not insane for wanting to kill Dermot. But what’s the recourse? wait out the lease and spend another few thousand dollars to move??

  62. coren says:

    @depardoo: Ha! Even if no one else thought it was funny.