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.