Many property owners like to get privacy fences, which can act as a barrier guarding against unwanted noise and unwanted visitors like animals. One Queens couple claims that this is why their apartment recently built a new fence. Except, it’s not raccoons and other pesky critters that are being kept out, it’s lower-income tenants.
“We’re caged in,” said Q41 building resident Erin McFadzen to the New York Post. “Every time someone comes over, I have to explain why the fence is there… and tell them we’re rent stabilized, like it’s a badge I have to wear.”
McFadzen and her boyfriend, Erik Clancy, live in one of the “affordable” middle-income, rent stabilized units of the Long Island City’s 17-story condo, located at 23-10 41st Avenue. The reason they were willing to pay $2,186 per month for that specific apartment was because of the lovely wrap-around terrace it had.
When they moved in however, they found a “Jurassic Park”-style barricade restricting their access to it.
“I can’t imagine them saying [to market-rate, upper-income tenants], ‘You get this beautiful view of Manhattan behind a giant metal fence,'” said Clancy.
At least eight other units on their sixth-floor have also found that their terraces are now nearly unusable.
Though the building had assured them multiple times that they’d be able to use the balcony, developer Queensboro Development claimed that the fence was a necessary staging area for window washers, who aren’t working or even there at the building at all times, like the couple who lives there.
The building’s former super Gjon Chota allegedly told McFadzen and Clancy that “the fence is there to stay” because of other residents with smaller balconies. It’s only fair to the others that they not get to use all of their terrace.
“If you feel that somehow you have a special privilege from the rest of tenants to use all of the terrace, please provide me with the copy of your lease or lease rider that states that,” wrote Chota in an email.
At the same time, a market-rate apartment in the same building, which goes for $3,692 a month, also has a large terrace, but doesn’t have the wire fence.
The attorney of the couple’s landlord sent them a letter forbidding them from crossing the fence. So it looks like the couple is going to have to either put up with the economic segregation, or move if they want to be treated fairly.