NYC Luxury Building Installs ‘Poor Fences’ To Separate Middle-Income Renters From Wealthier Residents

As if the “poor door” used by an NYC luxury apartment building earlier in the year wasn’t bad enough, a Queens luxury tower is using a similar approach with a “poor porch.”

For middle-income families and couples like Erin McFadzen and Erik Clancy, a fenced-in apartment wasn’t what they had in mind when they signed a lease to a rent-stabilized Q14 apartment with a balcony. When they moved into the apartment in July, it was a completely different story. They found themselves surrounded by wire fences, which were put in place to keep renters with smaller balconies from getting jealous of tenants with more space.

Photo Credit: Brigitte Stelzer

Photo Credit: Brigitte Stelzer

The building, which has 117 units, is mostly considered affordable, middle-income apartments – aside from eight more expensive units. McFadzen and Clancy pay $2,186 per month, and have a corner apartment with a wrap-around balcony. They never expected to encounter the 6-foot wire fence on the day they moved in. McFadzen said it feels like “We’re caged in.”

“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.”

This is what the porch looked like before the fence:


Photo Credit: Erin McFadzen and Erik Clancy

After the fence:


Photo Credit: Erin McFadzen and Erik Clancy


Photo Credit: Erin McFadzen and Erik Clancy

Clancy is also upset with the obstruction. He said:

“I can’t imagine them saying [to market-rate tenants], ‘You get this beautiful view of Manhattan behind a giant metal fence.”

Another apartment, which is rented at $3,692 per month, does not have a wire fence. When the couple had looked at the apartment in March, they were assured by the building that the full balcony would be available to them. The couple has tried to raise the issue with the landlord, as the fence was never mentioned before they signed the lease.

The former super of Q14, Gjon Chota, told the couple that the fence was a permanent fixture due to residents with less spacious balconies. Chota told the couple:

“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.”

Unfortunately, there are residents that are affected even worse than McFadzen and Clancy. One of the couple’s neighbors has almost lost all use of the balcony, as the wire fence was installed just a few feet away from the door.

The landlord has not given any further comment on the situation.