Recently, I met someone who was trapped in a terrible apartment. Why “trapped”? For months (if not years) she had been in an adversarial relationship with both her landlord and her neighbors, but she can’t quite bring herself to leave. Why not?
First, she is in a rent-stabilized apartment, and is afraid to give that up because such units are hard to find. Second, because of rent stabilization, she had made the sort of capital investments in her apartment–such as repairs–that are normally made by landlords, but neglected when they are overseeing these price controlled units.
By contrast, in a normal city, my friend’s dysfunctional relationship with her apartment would have ended long ago: either the landlord would have evicted her (something very difficult in New York), or she would have moved to someplace less atrocious.