Trying to Leave Toronto

Even before my former house had closed, I was looking at

Staying in Toronto was not a reasonable economic option. If I went to back to school for a 4 year program and graduated with a new lucrative career, that would be least $ 72,000 in rent alone –  if I stayed put and the new owner didn’t raise the rent, or evict me so the unit could be renovated. A modest condo in a so-so location would cost more than I had to spend – before the condo fees.

I had also grown to sort of loathe the city. I couldn’t find the space to be away from people. I could hear them upstairs, I could hear the salon music downstairs, I could hear their cars and wretched music through the windows. Even when I went to the laundromat at 10:00 p.m. (it was open until 1:00 a.m. — and just across the street) there was always someone around. There was a high school across the street. I blamed all the teenage germs and viruses on the local streetcar for making me sick all the time in that apartment.

I saw a few great prospective houses and buildings come and go, while I was waiting for my funds. A friend drove me all over Hamilton, to look around. It seemed like a possibility.

One of the houses was a run down house from the 1850’s that needed so much work. It sounded like the last family member that lived there had some hoarding issues. Because I was waiting on my funds, I didn’t go to look at it. This liar bought it, and claimed a family member would be living in it. This person had a little pressure from the local heritage group. I was appalled when it reappeared on the market, with the exterior somewhat preserved, less than a year later. Inside it looked like a Home Depot showroom. All traces of the house it had been were gone, thanks to this shoddy flipper.

My realtor was the daughter of the realtor that sold my ex and I the house. She was supremely patient about showing me the worst dumps.

In the time between the house was sold, and I received my proceeds, house sales in Hamilton had gone crazy. Everyone who had been pushed out of Toronto was now feasting on Hamilton. What could have been bought for $ 125,000 in late 2015 was now over $ 200,000, with bidding wars. I looked at twice a day.  I saw listings go up at 10:00 p.m. and by the time my realtor contacted the agent the next morning to schedule a viewing the property was sold.

We did make a couple of Hamilton expeditions and it was traumatic. One of the houses said it needed work in the description, but when we got there discovered that there had been a major fire and it was gutted to the studs inside. One had a crazy seller who wouldn’t let prospective buyers inside for viewings, and also had fire damage. One had a couple of tenants who both resembled Jabba the Hut, sitting in two dark rooms, side by side, on their independent computers, with messy chaos all around. Viewings were much more uncomfortable with the residents there. One had a missing lockbox so we couldn’t get inside. Next door these two little tough kids were sizing up up. They were just standing around in their yard in their bathing suits, with no parents around, asking strangers questions.

One house that looked promising had a realtor that told all prospective viewers to bring a dust mask, and advised that there were still cats living in the house. An elderly woman had been living there until she couldn’t anymore, and the family was selling the estate. The house had been cleaned up the best they could, which wasn’t very clean. I brought a can of cat food and some cat treats with me. I imagined the cats were probably pretty stressed out in there alone, with strangers coming through. I also brought extra shoes, in case the house was Hoarders level bad.

The house smelt like neglected cat boxes, old blankets, dust and despair. The cats were shy for a moment, but when they realized I was friendly stayed close by us. One of the cats was a love starved dilute calico, who was so happy to get pet. She had a funny, bony bump on her jaw, and I guessed she had bone cancer there. I noticed she was walking oddly, so I picked her up to look at her feet. All the claws on her front feet had grown so long they were embedded in her footpads, which would be so incredibly painful.

The kitchen was still filthy. Even the cat dishes were half empty with cloudy water that hadn’t been changed for days, and layers of old, old food. I washed their dishes and gave them clean water and a can of food. My realtor had a Swiss army knife, so I used the little scissors to trim the terrible claws and pull them out of her footpads. Her feet would be tender for a couple of days, but not as sore as they had been for MONTHS.

The house had many of the things I was looking for. It was an early 20th century house that still retained the original mouldings, plaster ceiling medallions, original windows and exterior details. Almost every room had a gruesomely overflowing cat box, that had not been cleaned for months, which one or all of the cats had been peeing beside. The house needed a new roof, new wiring, new plumbing, exterior repairs, new kitchen, new bathroom, new furnace, new flooring and extensive work to seal in all the bad pee smells, before any occupancy could begin. It did have a mature tree – exceptional for Hamilton.

I turned myself in knots trying to make this house situation reasonable. Maybe the seller would be willing to sell it to me at a lower price if I agreed to adopt and care for the three cats that were there ? I knew the family had removed other cats from the house, and there was a very panicked feral tortie in the backyard. I estimated that basic thorough repairs would cost at least $ 100,000. It was listed for $ 199,000. I chose to walk away and not jump into the frey. It sold for $ 370,000. I’ll bet some Toronto buyer felt incredibly lucky to get this semi, after having their dreams utterly crushed in the Toronto real estate market. To get a house like this in Toronto, even in this condition, would have cost at least $ 750,000 at that point in time.

I contacted a couple of Hamilton cat rescues and gave them the house address. I suppose the family was probably just dumping the cats at the local shelter. The elderly lovebug would have no chance, and would probably just be euthanized upon intake, due to her condition. I don’t know what happened with those cats and it bothers me to this day.

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My ex and his lawyer finally ran out of antagonistic legal strategies, so I received my share of the proceeds from the sale of the mutually owned house nine and a half MONTHS after its closing date. His own lawyer described him as “insane” in conversations with my lawyer, and was ready to fire him.

Oddly, a piece of mail arrived for a woman who had adopted one of my foster cats a couple of years before. I contacted her – and it turned out she needed a cat sitter while she did some art stuff in Germany. She had lived in the upstairs apartment, before the building was sold. The building had belonged to an older man who had it for a long time, and was very frugal. He didn’t do many repairs, but he stayed out of his tenants hair. Their rent had been $ 950.00, all included (c. 2013 or 2014). I paid $ 1500.00 plus hydro, two years later, while the upstairs tenants paid $ 1900.00 for her former apartment, furnished with the finest low range Ikea.

Roller (the cat) had developed a very serious congenital heart condition – Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. He had gone into congestive failure a couple of months before and almost died. I was nervous to look after him. He needed three pills twice a day – or else.

Roller had been a tough guy street cat from the Regent Park (notorious social housing) area. He was confused and upset for a couple of days, then became the lovable cat jerk I had previously known. He ate my geriatric cat’s special high calorie food and got pretty fat. He had a good time at my summer camp and did not die, though I worried about this possibility every day.

When she came to pick him up he didn’t want to leave, and hid under the sink. The last I heard he was doing okay. I sure hope this is still true.


Nightmare Apartment – Last of the Nightmare Landlord

*The Building Inspector and Fire Marshall gave work orders to the outgoing owner, that needed to be completed before the title was transferred to the new owner.

The most amazing thing was the way the back stairs to the 3rd floor apartment were rebuilt. The guys the landlord hired had done an okay job of patching the roof and installing eavestroughing. Carpentry was not their strongpoint.

The new stairs were built without using a measuring tape. They were also built without using pre-fab stringers. Why I don’t know. This resulted in each stair being a noticeably different height.  After the workers were gone I used my own measuring tape. The heights of these stairs ranged from 7 1/4″ to 12 1/2″ inches ! Building code allows a variance of 3/8″ ! The crazy differences made these stairs incredibly dangerous.

The new owner had a look at them and demanded they were to be properly rebuilt before he took possession. The nightmare landlord used the very same guys to rebuild the new terrible stairs. He showed up on the very last day before the transfer of the property and stood around in his stupid mirror aviator glasses, nit-picking. What a creep.

*Another thing about this building was that the boiler for the heating system was in the basement under the salon. There was no universal area that could be accessed without entering the salon. I don’t think there was even a thermostat for the furnace – the heat was either on or off, period.

Toronto got really hot in the third weekend of May. It was 28 C with high humidity and the radiators were still on , with the same level of heat they put out during a cold snap in January. The salon was closed a couple of days a week, and there was no way that the basement could be accessed to even turn the heat off, without the salon owner’s alarm code. This heat was just unbelievable and horrible. I think the upstairs tenant persuaded the salon owner to come in, to turn it off. Only one of the rads in my unit had a functioning valve that could be turned on or off.

* “Someone” called the OSPCA and claimed that I was a cat hoarder, with animals living in “unsanitary conditions”. This was transferred to Toronto Animal Services for investigation. By law, a resident or property owner doesn’t have to let an officer in to investigate. If the officer suspects there is a serious issue going on(sights but especially smells), they can apply for a search warrant. It can take months or even years for a hoarding situation to make it through the legal system, even in extreme situations with over a hundred cats, that neighbours have been complaining to the authorities about for years.

Cat rescue friends advised me to not let the officer in. I wanted to (again) prove that the outgoing owner was a liar. The officer came at the arranged time, and made me buy licenses for my cats. She did not find any unsanitary conditions. That was that.




Nightmare Apartment – Nightmare Neighbours

The apartment was in an area called Corso Italia. As gentrification gnawed its way through Toronto, many areas were affected and changed. This area was no exception. For many years, the storefront on the ground floor had been a small family grocer. Next door was a small old style fish market. Both of these businesses were long gone by the time I moved in. Many of the original owners aged out of their businesses or died a slow death when large supermarkets opened nearby.

The former fish shop was vacant for months, probably years. I often looked inside the window. The space was small, was probably last renovated in the 1950’s. There was the same baby blue 4 x 4″ ceramic tile on the walls, as was in my kitchen and bathroom. I guessed that maybe the buildings and businesses belonged to the same owner, or they were pals with the tile guy.

One day some rough looking dudes started moving stuff into the empty fish shop. They’d had a used furniture/whatever shop down the street but I supposed this was less expensive. They set up shop, and it was sort of a crappy jumble, with high prices. There used to be a woman with dyed hair around, but then she was gone, replaced by an ultra annoying chatty guy.

The way the buildings were set up on this block was that they were all solidly stuck together. There was no lane access, and the narrow walkway shown in my firescape photo was the only way to get to the street from the back half of the block. The building I was in had been (illegally, not to code) built out to cover the entire lot, though in decades past there would have been a large yard or storage area behind the store. Some of the other buildings still had a yard, while others had been built out to varying degrees.

I spent a little time on the “deck” and could see down to the former fish shop’s yard. As the dudes moved in, the yard was quickly filled up with furniture, store fixtures, building equipment and other stuff, concealed under tarps. I assumed that once they were completely moved, that it would get organized properly.

Instead I watched antique upholstered furniture get soaked in the rain, and more contents piled up. This was around the time that I started to be seriously concerned about the possibility of insurance arson.

Not long after they moved in, I saw my first roach, in the bedroom. This was on the adjacent wall to the fish store. Then the salon saw some roaches, then the new third floor tenants. Ugh.

This is what their yard looked like after a couple of months:

1026neighbour.JPGSpring came, and as they had a couple of extension ladders, they decided to make the fish shop roof their personal beach, and took lawn chairs and their drinking pals up there.

In theory this was okay, except that on the roof they could see straight into my bathroom and bedroom windows. I sure didn’t like this. Their pals were all really sketchy creeps, too. I didn’t want them outside my apartment on the roof, having break in ideas.

Thankfully, the rooftop beach was abandoned quickly, though they just left the chairs and table up there. I was tempted to toss them off the roof during a windstorm, but I thought this might rejuvenate their rooftop interest.

The second worst creep disappeared for awhile then reappeared. Then it seemed like he was living in the back of the shop. I noticed a bunch of former water bottles, now being used as piss bottles, starting to pile up by their back door. (As far as I could tell the former fish store was just one room, with no basement or washroom.)

The salon got robbed on a Saturday. Camera footage captured the dude confidently walking in, who went straight to the cash drawer, when the receptionist was away from her desk for a moment. Creep # 2 was shown the footage by police, who claimed he recognized the guy from the last time he was in jail a few weeks ago, but didn’t know his name or anything.

On Sunday night I was getting ready for bed when I heard a woman SCREAMING,  loudly screaming like she was terrified and desperate. It sounded like it was coming from the back. I ran out, worried that it was the woman upstairs who was being assaulted. I could hear the woman screaming again, and sounds of slaps or punches. No lights were on upstairs, but I could see the back door to the crap store was open. It sure seemed like the sound was coming from there.

I called 911, and took the officers through the apartment out on the roof and showed them the back door. Someone else had called to report the screams, too. The police went around the front, while others climbed down the ladders.

The woman didn’t want to press charges, and I guess maybe they escorted her out.

My theory is that creep # 2 definitely knew the thief, and was probably full of helpful advice about the salon. They probably split the cash.  There were some homeless addict women doing street level prostitution close to the LCBO store a few blocks down the street. I guess he offered one of them some cash and maybe booze or drugs, and when she wasn’t a compliant enough victim he assaulted her. This is the only scenario I can think of as to why any woman would be within a mile of that guy.

The sound of the blows and her screams was sickening. I didn’t know what to do but convinced myself I would drag her to safety if I could. It was horrible.


Piss bottles and garbage bags full of piss bottles are just below the ladders by the wall. See the door.

Nightmare Apartment – Sold !

Just after the hearing at the Landlord/Tenant Board, a building inspection was scheduled by the prospective buyer. I was expecting them – but imagine my shock when I opened my door and that creepster landlord was standing there with them !

He had told a whopping lie about being at the airport, just to not appear at the Landlord/Tenant Board. I think the hearing was on a Thursday, and this was Sunday. He didn’t even bother to have a fake tan or a t-shirt with Egypt printed on it or anything. What a baby !

While the inspector (actually the prospective owner) was looking over the apartment, and asking me questions, the landlord kept physically getting in the way, and talking over me. I was so angry, but tried to keep my cool. There really weren’t serious issues with the apartment. It was old, and needed some repairs and maintenance. The lack of smoke detectors, unsafe fire escape, lack of fire blocking, poor lighting and confused wiring were all fixable issues, that were the responsibility of a reasonable landlord. The biggest problem I had experienced was the owner.

After they left, I was shaking with anger, so I called a friend. As I was talking to her on the phone, someone started knocking on my door. I assumed it was the nightmare owner. No way was I going to open the door ! Instead, it was a woman’s voice, speaking to me. This was the realtor, for the buyer, who had witnessed the entire inspection situation. She asked to come in, to speak with me.

I felt very uncomfortable. On one hand, I really didn’t want to mess up the sale. I wanted that owner GONE, ASAP ! On the other hand, I could not keep my silence about the unethical person I had been dealing with. I tried to emphasize that the building needed some work, but the location was good, and that this was a desireable and convenient location. I tried to gently suggest that they should verify all the measurements, as I did not think that these apartments were as big as advertised, and that I had just gone through a hearing at the Landlord/Tenant Board…

That buyer bought it, for $ 100,000 under asking*. Remember, my asshole landlord was a realtor, who is supposed to be a professional, who knows how to buy and sell property. His knowing misrepresentation of his property was a violation of his realtor’s code of conduct. Shameful.

* This was truly remarkable in a market like Toronto’s. The asking price was not out of line, and would have been a steal, if the building had been accurately described. I guess the landlord was measuring in “internet inches”, wishfully.

The Nightmare Apartment -Landlord/Tenant Board

My landlord kept evading the City of Toronto Building Inspector, who came looking for him many times. I saw him taking notes on the fire escape. I bet he needed more paper to describe the visible issues.

I decided to file a complaint with the Landlord/Tenant Board. I was really mad about the extra Hydro I had been paying, and all the other issues. I read the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act backwards and forwards.

The lease I had signed looked official. It had the logo of the Toronto Real Estate Board on it. One thing I had not done, that was in my lease, was get apartment insurance. The ORTA states that if you agree to something in the rental agreement – even if it is not a legal clause – then if you do not abide by this you could be evicted. By law a landlord cannot make you get insurance – but I had agreed to this, sigh.

I went to an insurance broker and explained what I needed. I brought my lease with me. He read it, then read it again and sort of sputtered. He excused himself to run around the office to show this to his colleagues. When he came back he explained what was going on. While my lease said that I had to get apartment insurance, with a value of $ 30,000, this insurance was to be made payable to my LANDLORD !!! Incredible. He sold me a policy, payable to me.

This revelation made me more creeped out about my asshole landlord. Was he going to burn the building down to collect on insurance – his and mine ? This clause was not an accident.

The woman upstairs came with me to a couple of meetings at the Landlord/Tenant Board. Her situation was a little different in that they had been paying extra rent for the child, who had never come to live with them. There had also been ongoing issues with a lack of heat and other stuff. She found the whole experience of just going to the office super stressful. She said she was going to file but I guess she never did. They moved out soon after.

I didn’t want to file, but I also felt that my landlord had acted in extremely bad faith. He  had to know that I would be paying for the water heater electricity ?

After he was given his notice to appear the landlord was really angry. I was, too. He offered me $ 1000.00 to move out. This was not even one months rent ! He threatened to evict me and said he was going to move in. He tried all kinds of things. I would not speak with him on the phone, and would only communicate via email, so that I had a record of who said what to whom, when.

Meanwhile I started looking for another apartment. I hated the constant viewings and the stress. A couple of apartments in the area came up, in the same price range. I went to look at one, but it was just as bad, and the actual situation seemed sketchy with the person leasing it not being the landlord. Paying for movers was also expensive.

The hearing at the Landlord/Tenant office was pretty unpleasant. The landlord didn’t show up, and sent a paralegal, Fatima, to represent him. She claimed that he had a previously booked flight to Greece and Egypt, which was non-refundable, and that he was at the airport, waiting to board. She showed what was allegedly his flight itinerary to prove this. This all seemed very odd as I knew that a conditional offer had been made on the building. Why would he leave the country while this was happening ?

He was allowed to appear via speakerphone. The mediator seemed like he intensely disliked me. I had prepared notes, and had organized copies of hydro bills, emails, a letter from the electrician. Despite his dislike, I guess my actual documentation helped. I was granted one month’s rent ($ 1500.00) to compensate me for the excess hydro bills, which had violated my rights.

The landlord attempted many ridiculous angles, claiming that I had no right to have any contents on the “deck”, and that it wasn’t a deck but a rooftop. I had the listing which described this “600 sq ft communal deck”. I guess that helped. In the meantime I had locked up the vintage patio furniture that was indeed, on “the deck” as the landlord had approved when I moved in. I also had photos of the deck from all angles to better illustrate this, and my contents thereof. That argument went nowhere. Sheesh.


Nightmare Apartment – Building for Sale

I felt oddly relieved when the building was officially listed for sale. The owner was apparently insane as the listing stated that there would only be a tour of the property after a legally binding offer was made. WTF ? I had a realtor friend do a little research. I learned what the building had been listed and sold for previously, and the dimensions of the lot and other details. Yet “oddly”  – the square footage of the lot had somehow grown between the time the building was sold to the owner and his partner and this new listing ?

This strategy yielded zero viewings. Toronto is a super hot market, so it’s difficult to NOT be able to sell property.

After a month or so, the listing was revised.

The owner got some guy to come in and do laser stuff for a floorplan and square footage. This guy was supposed to photograph my apartment, too but I objected. According to the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act, an owner is not permitted to photograph a tenant’s belongings. The upstairs apartment was photographed by someone – flash snapshots that showed a cluttered coffee table, unmade beds, etc. There were broken boards in the ceiling over the entryway. This was hastily scribbled out using the most amateur of photoshop. The listing claimed that the two apartments were 1000 square feet each, and emphasized the “tens of thousands” that the owner had spent on renovating the property. It mentioned the 600 sq ft “communal deck”.

The salon had spent a lot of money designing and renovating their space, and it looked really good. That asshole was taking credit for this. It was galling.

The revised listing generated a lot of interest. The office the owner worked at started calling and emailing to schedule viewings. They can only be scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 8 p.m., and tenants must have a minimum of 24 hours notice. This didn’t mean that they didn’t try otherwise – as though the tenants wouldn’t know their rights !

I was curious about how big the apartment actually was. It was an irregular shape due to the airshaft by the bedroom and bathroom windows. I measured it twice, room by room. Including the measurements for the hallway and bathroom and closets(which typically are not included). It was just under 700 square feet ! Where was that other 300 square feet I had been renting ?

There was a flurry of interest with the revised listing. I kept the apartment tidy and clean for all the viewings. I think many viewers were hopeful – the salon facade looked great. Then they would enter the stairwell – which the landlord had not even bothered to sweep  – let alone patch and paint. My apartment was as good as it could look – if you could overlook the exposed pipes in the wall, and the electrical conduit over the doorway. People always wanted to see the 600 square foot communal deck. 100% of them were surprised when I opened the back door to show them this rooftop, with no railings or decking material of any description. This also gave them a good look at the terrifying back of the building.

No offers were forthcoming. I suffered through many viewings.


Nightmare Apartment – Lots of Concerns

I became a little friendly with one of the upstairs tenants, and the woman who owned the salon below. It was obvious that we had all been lied to about various issues. The women upstairs agreed to rent the updated and furnished apartment for $ 1800.00 a month plus utilities. At one point it seemed a child was going to live with them, so the landlord told them this would cost an extra $ 100.00 per month, plus an extra damage deposit. Yet in Ontario a landlord can request first and last month’s rent, but no extra damage deposits. Hmmm…

An ongoing issue had been the garbage situation. Toronto supplies green bins for organic waste, and grey wheelie bins for garbage. There had been a grey bin around when I first moved in and it disappeared. In Toronto many homes in old neighbourhoods are completely attached, on small lots. There is no garage to store the bins, and many lots don’t have laneways. This means that either the bins get stored in the front yard, which can be unsightly and smelly – or residents can opt out and pay for garbage tags instead. This is much better than dragging a full bin through the house, and to the curb. Since the grey bin disappeared, I assumed the owner had removed it. I bought garbage tags, which I think were about $3.00 each ? I recycled and used the green bin as much as possible, so I didn’t have tons of garbage anyway. The problems started for real, when I read through the City of Toronto’s site, which said that property owners are to supply their tenants with either a bin or garbage tags. I think the owner had received several citations from the city, as the grey bin had been hanging around the front of the building. As the block was solid commercial storefronts, there was no place to store the bin. The stairwell was so narrow that there was no place to store the bin.

The landlord emailed us and told us there was a new bin, and that we were supposed to switch from week to week carrying it to the curb. I emailed him back and said that there was no place to store this bin. He said that we should store it on the deck (aka 2nd story roof) level, and carry it around to the curb. (Again, the fire escape was old and very rickety, and did not even touch the ground as it was designed to ! How a reasonable person was expected to carry an XL wheelie, full of heavy garbage, down steep and slippery steps was beyond me. And this was unlit, and no one cleared the snow in the back walkway from the fire escape. To get to the front of our building would mean a trip around 2/3 of the block. ) I emailed him that this was not a reasonable solution, and that supplying his tenants with garbage tags would cost him less than he was paying on his taxes for the bin.

I also sent him an email with a scan of the receipts I had paid for the garbage tags, and subtracted that amount from my rent. I think this amount was trivial – like perhaps thirty dollars (I would have to look it up). This completely incensed the landlord, who started phoning me. I knew better than to answer so I replied to his email, sent him links from the city about the cost of a wheelie bin vs garbage tags. Then I was flooded with irate replies. Then someone attempted to HACK into my email account as this was happening. Over $ 30.00 worth of garbage tags ? And I was giving him information that would actually save him money ? It was nuts.

The upstairs tenants had given notice. It was around this time that I discovered that I had been paying for their water heater electricity, and the hall electricity. I started looking more critically at the building and discovered that while there was a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in my apartment, both were dead. And the smoke detector in the halls had the batteries removed. The salon and upstairs apartment did not have any smoke detectors whatsoever.

The city building inspector and fire marshall were contacted. Both found enough issues with the building that work orders were issued.

Would you carry an XL wheelie bin, filled with garbage, down this fire escape in the dark ? FYI: The light fixture at the bottom of the stairs never worked. Not shown: the loose steps, the heaved and cracked concrete on the landing, or the frightening wobble of the stairs as neither bottom actually touched or anchored to the ground. The giant cluster of wires was perhaps 6 feet away from the top of the landing.


Nightmare Apartment -Tours ?

I would have never rented the apartment if I had been told that the landlord intended to list it for sale. This started off slowly. The tenants were given a written notice sometime in the winter that an “investors group” was going to be touring the building. I had no clue what this meant. At that point I was still assuming good faith on the part of the owner. Since he was a realtor, and owned property in Toronto, I figured this was some wheeling and dealing thing he had going on. I made sure that my apartment was tidy and clean.

I remember the first was a group of men, that came in the evening. They clomped through my apartment in their wet winter boots. I spied through my curtains as I observed the owner taking them up the very precarious and unlit fire escape, to show them the back of the building, in the dark. The back of the building was in especially bad shape. The porch on the third floor had pulled away from the building’s wall by at least 3″, and many of the exposed wood portions were obviously rotten. There were giant holes in the soffits, sagging beams and many other obvious issues.

At some point I looked at and saw that the building was now listed for sale, yet none of the tenants had been told. This was only going to get worse.


Nightmare Apartment – Spring 2016

I worked hard on the apartment to make it liveable. The fridge was dead and the stove wasn’t working so I called a scrap dealer to take them away. A friend bought me a vintage stove for a housewarming present. I bought a terrible $ 30.00 woodgrain bar fridge, which I promptly painted. Even though the landlord was legally obligated to provide appliances, I had little faith in what he would do.

I fixed the holes in the plaster, and painted every single room, including the trim. I painted the kitchen cabinets, bought new knobs at Dollarama, and painted the stained countertops. I attempted to scrape off the offensive popcorn ceiling, too, but it wouldn’t budge. The vintage VC tiles were filthy. I washed and stripped them, and scraped off as much of the 60 years of paint spatter as I could. While I couldn’t enlarge the apartment, at least I could make it look better. The apartment felt less appalling with fresh paint and a clean floor. I could kind of deal with a retro apartment.

Meanwhile, the renovations happening in the salon started close to 7 a.m., and sometimes involved a jackhammer and other extremely loud tools. There was also a shouty dude, who did most of his shouting at the start time. This went on for MONTHS.

I wondered if I should stay in Toronto ? There was a four year program I was sort of interested in, but did not apply to. Even if my rent was frozen (extremely unlikely) I would pay $ 72,000.00 in rent alone. I hated considering this.

The kitchen and bathroom both had baby blue ceramic tiles, probably from the 50’s. The cabinets had been replaced with garbage melamine ones, probably early 80’s Ikea. Whoever made the cabinets didn’t put shelves in half of them, so I had to use milk crates to keep my pots and pans organized. For $ 1500.00/month, this is what you get !