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For some renters at Bedly, a co-living company that shut down abruptly last weekend, the bad news came in the form of an email sent around 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 21st, informing them that the company was “closing up our operation here and handing back the relationship to the landlord of the building.”
The email went on to thank tenants for joining Bedly and “helping us accelerate the future of housing and having a positive impact.” Accounts for utilities, the message said, would be closed out in the next 24-48 hours.
Bedly has 600 renters (actually subtenants) in about 200 buildings in Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Harlem, as well as Jersey City and Boston. The company rents (and furnishes) apartments that belong to individual building owners, then turns around and re-rents them to subtenants. Because of this system, Bedly tenants are not familiar with who actually owns their building, and the building owners do not know them.
Bedly gave some renters information on who owns their apartment, but others got nothing. Some renters didn’t even receive that Sunday night email, but soon figured out something was very wrong.
Brick Underground has heard from multiple renters. Read on for the stories of three tenants, how they learned Bedly was shutting down, and what actions they are taking now.
Something was off
Melanie Wilkerson and her roommate didn’t receive an email but noticed that their rent was not collected as usual by Bedly’s automatic withdrawal system.
“Bedly sends our rent invoices on the 20th of the month, and the 20th came and went with no invoice,” she says. Her rent for August was not deducted. She tried to get through to someone at Bedly, but the support system had been turned off.
“For two days we tried but couldn’t submit a question to support. I felt concern. I wondered, ‘what if they just shut down shop?’ I’ve been renting over year. It felt uncanny,” she says.
She is owed a security deposit as well as her $500 furniture deposit.
The apartment Wilkerson subleases from Bedly is the only one the company manages in her Crown Heights building, which has a storefront and just one other residential unit. She’s been a Bedly tenant for a little over a year, which is unusual for the company. Most tenants stay for a month, she says. She should know, she’s had 11 roommates in her time with Bedly.
And this is not the first time she’s had trouble with the company. She’s had complaints before, namely about not getting notice about new roommates. Instead, they just show up, including one who moved into the apartment in the middle of the night, much to Wilkerson’s distress.
“I berated Bedly, I lit into them,” she says. “I do not hold back.” She says the company said they would take her suggestions and look into ways to make the process better but Wilkerson didn’t see any changes.
Turning out the lights
Another tenant, Shauna (a pseudonym) has also had trouble with the company. She rents in Bedly's Bedford-Stuyvesant location, paying $1,189 for an apartment with four other roommates.
In March, Con Edison showed up and “threatened to turn off the power” to her building, where there are three Bedly apartments with five bedrooms each. Shauna says that even though she and her roommates paid for utilities, she was told that Con Edison hadn’t received any payment from that location in the two years since Bedly managed the building.
There were other problems in the past, Shauna says, for example apartment showings with no advance notice to tenants (landlords are required to give reasonable notice—most leases stipulate 24 hours.)
When she found out from her roommates that Bedly was shutting down, she went on Twitter and saw other renters discussing the abrupt closure. Shauna then called a Bedly staff member, Katie Ann Kopchik, senior customer support and operations manager, “who initially told me everything was fine, but called me back to say that they are turning it back to the original owners,” Shauna says.
(Kopchik has not responded to repeated requests for comment.)
To make matters worse—if that were even possible—Shauna says her new landlord has not provided her with any details on a new lease.
Another Bedly renter, Ryan B., is a little luckier than others. His landlord actually did pick up the phone when Ryan called to request a new lease.
“I gave them the info they had requested, and they said they'd give me a call back but didn't specify a timeframe. Fingers crossed that it's sometime soon, because that 24-48 hour utility ultimatum is no joke, especially since I work from home, remotely, and am entirely dependent on internet access,” he says.
He also took some action that other Bedly renters may want to consider:
“In the meantime, I made sure to contact my bank to get a dispute set up for the original deposits I paid to Bedly, back when I moved in in 2018. Bedly, in their most recent email, made no reference to getting deposits back, which was something explicitly stated in the original lease agreement I signed. The deposit I am expecting is a month's worth of rent—so north of a thousand dollars—plus a $500 furniture deposit.
But Ryan is not holding out much hope.
“Sure, Bedly, might make good on the original contract and [I may] recoup those funds, but I'd rather prepare for the worst since Bedly hasn't exactly given me much reason to believe otherwise,” he says.
Response from the CEO
Reached for comment last night, Bedly CEO Martin Greenberg says tenants can stay through an August transition period and deposits will not be an issue: Tenants who are staying beyond September 1 will have their deposits rolled over to their new landlords, while those who are leaving will get their deposits back. Anyone who needs information should email firstname.lastname@example.org, Greenberg says, asserting that this is the best way to get help.
When reminded that New York landlords now have 14 days to return security deposits to departing tenants, he says. “It is not a problem—if it is the end of a renter’s term, they will get them back.”
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