I’m in arrears of rent!!!

Hey, I was out having a fun time with the Tenant Advocates yesterday evening…

…when I came home last evening to this dire message from my landlord:

Auggggh!!! I’m in arrears!!! Will they file to evict me?

Hmm… I’ve just spoken with my new in-house counsel, Gabriel.

He advised that it wouldn’t be worth their while to file to evict me, as it would cost them $150.00.

As prudent counsel, however, he did also advise that if they should file to evict me I should bring up the fact that I overpaid the previous month according to their ledger:

Gabriel did advise that, if the worst happens and they file to evict me, I can claim this $0.68 overpayment as part of a relief from forfeiture eviction (sorry – I happen to like the old language “relief from forfeiture” as it really brings home the feudal aspect of the whole thing… but I’m a bit old school that way) argument before the Landlord and Tenant Board.

However, I decided to do the wise thing and just rectify the situation by payment.

This is only because I don’t know that the Board would accept the “I’m maths challenged” argument, especially when landlord/tenant is my chosen field of legal practice.

However, I’m just a bit pissed off right now – I figure it cost the landlord more than than the $8.86 outstanding to have their staff person print this off and have another staff member hand-deliver it to my door fourteen days later. But this is why the landlords keep making money and fools like me keep paying them rent, I suppose.

Now, if I wanted some real drama, I’d skip Gabriel’s opinion and get my real legal team onto it:

It’s actually such a big legal team that they don’t all fit in one photo! Check it out!

(You will recognise JJ in front. He is the honourary security person. We need him around because people like this start creating commotions in the street by nearly running over a cyclist, then getting out of his car and nearly decking the cyclist, then when someone like me intervenes and says she’s calling the cops, gets out and calls the cops himself, parks his car in one lane on a major thoroughfare in the city at rush hour, then gets laughed at by the cops when they finally show up:

Need I say more, really?)

Anyway, even more members of my legal team:

…and still more again:

… and our glorious mascot, who is a(n) (in)famous actress and has actually been on TV!!!

So, who needs to fear The Landlord when you have all these people on your team?!?

Stay tuned… because if I ever face an eviction hearing for non-payment of rent for $8.68 outstanding, I will be calling in the media.

(And, by the way, it wouldn’t be the first time this has happened. I’ve seen many clients with an eviction order for non-payment where the eviction order says the landlord owes THEM several hundred dollars. Such is the beauty of the landlord/tenant law in Ontario.)

But enough shop talk!

A very happy Tuesday to you all.

Regards,

Kristina

Advertisements

preserving my (in)sanity

Well, an update in the weather that I know you’ve all been waiting with virtually bated breath to hear…

(By the way, what is “bated breath”, exactly?  I think I smelled some on the tram today… does “bated breath” mean that something crawled into your windpipe and died and is now being exhaled as you snort and cough all over the pole that I’m hanging on to?!?)

Yesterday was so hot that the charcoal in our new easy light charcoal BBQ (prohibited, by the way, by virtue of my tenancy agreement.  Oh well.) ignited by itself!!!!

JJ: Stop exaggeratin’, lassie!!! Don’t ye think these blog readers already know yer a wee bampot?!?

Yeah, ok, ok… I lied to you.  Actually, those are the remains of the big souvlaki feast we enjoyed last evening…courtesy of Loblaws who had a big sale on these premade things when I popped in Wednesday evening (not as guid as mom and dad’s, but for $1 a stick and no work on my part, they did just fine):

What they did not have at $#&*($&*@#($#@* Loblaws, however – and what I had popped in especially to get – was any local produce.

And herein starteth the rant.  American friends, believe me, I have nothing against your fair country – nor against Peru, nor against South Africa.  However, one might just expect that in Ontario in mid-July one could go to the grocery store and buy… let’s say, local strawberries.  But no.  The closest to “local” I could find there was New Jersey (for those as geographically challenged as I, some 500 clicks/335 miles from here at closest.  This means at least five hours bumping around in some truck just to get here to Toronto, never mind to my local Loblaws from wherever they keep their secret huge warehouse!!!).

Sheesh!!

So, I had to limit my purchases to souvlaki, smoked sausage, four litres of vinegar and sugar.  And no, this is not the fixins for some esoteric greco/scottish summer stew.  Rather, I needed the vinegar for… you guessed it!… more preserves.  And then I hit Bari fruit market for some decent local stuff.

Wednesday’s obsession product was infused vinegars.  From the left: strawberry and vanilla bean, blueberry and lime, ginger and chilli, and Europe’s Best Zen Garden frozen veg mix (I boiled too much vinegar and sugar.  What can I say?)

There are also various other permutations and combinations on the above.  And, if I actually liked salad, I might have been able to tell you some day how they all worked out.  But I don’t like salad.  So, I will have to rely on JJ and other friends to let me know how these all taste – on salad, anyway.  I have been known to dip bread (which I do like, in quantity) in vinegar – yes, yes, I am a wee bampot, I know.

Why all this zeal, especially when it’s not all that prudent to keep a big pot of water boiling for three hours, making it 500 million C with the humidex in my apartment?  Well, I read this article in the Globe and Mail on Wednesday at lunch, which will give you some ideas for fancy flavoured vinegars if you’re so inclined.

I also bought two kilos of “last day special” plum tomatoes at Bari, which I also canned after boiling them in some V-8 juice.

Then, just when I thought I’d had enough, JJ made the mistake of mentioning that he was glad I’d brought in more strawberries, because the ones we’d bought at the weekend had gone somewhat dry…

So, six more 500ml jars of vinegar – three strawberry/mint (at left) and three balsamic/strawberry (at right).

What’s that you say, JJ?  I should learn to like salad, should I?

But why, when there are chips to eat and bread to dip in oil and vinegar??? Huh? Huh?

Oh, and by the way, the sour cherry jam has been a big hit so far with the man of the house:

Wishing you all a lovely Friday and a happy weekend.  Tonight we will be heading out to meet some landlord rep friends (eeek!!!) at an indian restaurant, followed by a pub crawl.

And what does the weekend hold?  I’ll be seeking out some more sour cherries, I suspect…

a parable for the 21st Century

Well, gang – being as it’s Saturday and I’m recovering from a drinking session with the gnomes busy at housework, I thought I’d reprise a post that I put up on another blog I started in a blog binge last month.

So, if any of you have read it on the other blog, my apologies and I’ll be back tomorrow with more gnome adventures (there’s a new member of the Gnome family!!!) and maybe even some photos of knitting.

And, JJ and I are off later today on a trip to Michael’s craft superstore.  Yippee!

Now for my little fable.  WARNING/AVERTISSEMENT/ACHTUNG: if you are a member of the Conservative Party… well, read at your peril.  And don’t whine to me that you weren’t warned!

**********************************************************************************************

There is a land far, far north of where most people live, and in that land is a little fiefdom called Kanadha. Many people flocked to Kanadha, even though it was a fiefdom, because it was one of the best and brightest places in the world.

However, Kanadha mostly exists in the shadow to its neighbour to the south, Murca. Murca is far larger than Kanadha and is run by a group of dictators known as the Archconservative Party. This is their leader, Exalted Ruler Godfrey. However, Mr. Godfrey prefers to be known as “God” – and this is what most of his people call him (although some of them give him the surname “Damn” underneath their breath).

This is a rare photo of God wearing evening dress. God doesn’t like wearing tuxedos, actually, because he likes to pretend to be a man of the people. However, from time to time he finds his tuxedo a useful tool to intimidate visiting dignitaries, such as The Right Honourable Steve.

Oops, sorry – wrong photo. This is actually the Father of Confederation, Sir John Eh?. However, the new guy, Steve is the current Supreme Lord and Master of Kanadha. He spends most of his time drinking, lying to his serfs and forcing the other nobility to keep silent about whatever it is he is up to, for example, hanging out with suspicious characters:

This is his way of emulating God, with whom he pretends to be best friends. No one is sure whether he actually believes this to be the case or not.

One thing is certain though – Steve has allowed God to scare him about the possibility of harm from this man, Lucifer.

Now, no one knows very much about Lucifer at all. According to God and Steve, Lucifer is a lawless type who hates Murca and should therefore be extinguished. However, people in Kanadha and Murca are not quite sure where he lives, what he believes in, and even whether this army exists or not. (God and Steve might actually know the truth – but if they do, they certainly have not been sharing it with their people).

Despite this, lots of money is spent every year by both Murca and Kanadha to engage in combat like activity far, far away in countries where Lucifer may or may not be found.

In Kanadha, they get the money for this fighting from people like this:

This is taxpayer John Doe. He is just one of millions of Kanadhonians who pay lots of tax money every year to Steve and the rest of the lords. He doesn’t really know where all of that money goes, as that is secret information known only to Steve and his Inner Circle of other nobility.

(It should be noted that In Kanatha, there is currently no right for taxpayers like John to vote. John doesn’t really think that is a big deal because he never voted when it was allowed anyway. Having said that, he does like complaining, though.

People like John, however, typically do not complain about the people in charge, because it’s easier to blame other people like themselves for all the problems in Kanadhian society. Steve encourages this, because it distracts the people and helps them forget that they are actually living in a fiefdom.)

Here are some other taxpayers, Quack and Daisy Duck:

You may have noticed that Quack and Daisy look quite different from one another, and from John Doe. This is because Kanadha is a multicultural fiefdom, although the Lords and Masters all still look like Steve (and like God, for that matter).

Quack and Daisy are hardworking types who don’t really have a lot of time to question what is going on in the wider world. Or maybe they just don’t care.

But that’s not a very kind thing to suggest, really, because I’m sure they’re busy looking after their two kids.

First up: Tina Duck.

Tina is still a young, naive little thing who doesn’t quite understand yet how the world works. Sometimes, especially after being picked on at school because her parents look different from one another, she wonders why everyone just can’t get along.

Everyone, that is, except her and her little brother, that is:

This is Brat Duck. He’s prone to stealing Tina’s crown and running around with it for kicks. He also squawks loudly, sometimes incessantly. This makes him potentially much better suited to get on in the fierdom and the wider world than Tina, unfortunately.

And finally, there is me, your humble chronicler, (Kris)tina.

I live in a place very much like Kanadha. It’s called Trana.

In Trana, unlike in Kanatha and Murca, there is no supreme being. Oh, wait, I’m wrong: of course there is a supreme being in Trana – the Almighty D*llar.

And here I must confess that I actually misled you a bit above. In fact, the Almighty D*llar is also the Supreme Being in both Kanadha and Murca. God and Steve just pretend to be the top entities, really.

I’m not allowed to show you photos here, just as I am not allowed to type out the name in full without changing a letter. However, in Kanadha one version of the Almighty D*llar looks like this, and in Murca like this. The version that you buy things with is referred to as a “dollar”.

As you can see, the Almighty D*llar is a shapeshifter which presents Itself amongst the rulers and mortals who spend their lives in search of it in various forms. And these days, you need at least one hundred of them to buy anything that you need.)

Trana is not a fiefdom, but some – nay, most – days it’s hard for me to believe that.

So, I just content myself with fondling luxury silk yarn, smoking cigarettes and indulging in general apathy like everyone else surrounding me.

Sigh.

the potential evils of landlordery

Before I begin today’s rant, let me show you something very pretty that I’ve been meaning to photograph for a long time:


This is a crocheted hat with freeform applique which was made for me by a lovely woman called Cathy from the Freeformations group. It was sent to me while I was in England this past December.

The applique is detachable, and she sent me another one for a different look:


Unfortunately, it’s been too inclement to wear the hat of late. Roll on, spring! (at least it finally stopped snowing…).

Now for the bad news.

First off, I cursed myself by gloating about my progress on the SOTSii, obviously. I had to rip back at least a dozen rows last night and am now very near the start of Clue 3 again. Sob. No more bragging for me (that is, if I can find the SOTSii in the big piles of snow outside my apartment building, having flung it off the balcony!).

Second, I read an
article in the Toronto Star the other day which infuriated me for obvious reasons.

Specifically, the owner of this house in Scarborough (in the east end of Toronto):

subdivided the house into 18 rooms and eight bathrooms, and rented the rooms out to tenants for $400 each. According to the Star,

The two owners of the property were each fined $5,000 for infringing the City by-laws. The earning potential on the house, correspondingly, was $7,200 per month if all the rooms were rented in a given month. I quote from the Star article:

…the [rooming house] landlords are making big bucks off the backs of desperate tenants. The operators rarely flinch when ordered to pay fines because they’re making so much money, city councillors say.

(And, in my experience with this type of landlord I would hazard a guess that that they were, and that the tenants were kicked out illegally if the landlord came by on rent day and the rent was short a bit. The landlord, by the way, lives down the street with this family).

What was even more galling to me: this property was being advertised on the Internet as a place for newcomers to Canada to live, and the web ad offered newcomers a ride from the airport to the house when first they arrived. So, again in my experience, this landlord was likely preying on the relative ignorance of these tenants about the laws in Canada and the living conditions that should be a given here. This level of exploitation, I find disgusting.

The flipside to this problem is that, ironically, in certain parts of the city these houses are being actively shut down because old by-laws in certain neighbourhoods prohibit rooming houses altogether, which leads to atrocious set-ups like this one (the Toronto we know today is comprised of six former cities, all with different by-laws and many which are still not harmonised to date).

So, why is it a problem that these set-ups are illegal in some parts of Toronto? Well, many people simply cannot afford to live any place else. For example, no mention is made in the article of what happened to the tens of people who were living in this house when it was shut down last summer.

I get very depressing in thinking how little the landlord and tenant scheme has progressed since these times:

This is a painting depicting serfs in their living space. Back in those days, peasants (who later became known as “tenants” were bound to the land and dependent on their landlords for protection and justice. If anything, if this is a correct statement of the system then, things seem to have gone backwards as the “protection and justice” elements appear to have gone missing altogether.

And, as ever, it’s these guys who run the show:

So, what is the answer? More affordable housing in the City, I guess… except that the City has virtually stopped building it. Of course, they say there is no money.

How to fund afforable housing projects, then? I say: introduce a small tax on multi-residential private landlords of a loonie ($1) per month per unit that they own. There are over 250,000 private multi-residential units in Toronto (according to these <a href=”
http://www.toronto.ca/housing/pdf/quickfacts.pdf”>statistics from 2006. So, $12 per unit per year would generate over $3 million which could be invested in portable rent subsidies or in building more affordable housing units.

Why should the private market landlords bear this cost, you ask? There are a couple of reasons:

(a) they make lots of money in Toronto. So much money that, even with a high vacancy rate, they keep the rents elevated and many units vacant. This suggests to me (although I’m not an economist) that they are managing to make money even with buildings which are sometimes up to one third vacant at any given point. Too much money, in other words.

(b) there is an argument to be made that private multi-res landlords would actually benefit in the long run from a scheme (even one partially funded by them) that saw more affordable housing in the City. This is because lower-income tenants end up moving into their units, which they can’t afford, run up arrears (which are often not collectible by the landlords) and then leave. I saw a position paper from the landlord lobby a couple of years ago which estimated the landlords’ fiscal losses at $2,700.00 on average when a tenant is evicted for non-payment of rent. So – less lower income tenants in their buildings, more money for them, no?

Simple, eh? But of course, rent controls on vacant units would have to be introduced (as Mr. McGuinty’s government promised to do several years back and then never bothered!) so that this tax was not passed on to incoming tenants.

Man, when I’m dictator, things will change. Wait for it. The revolution is coming…

Happy Friday!

how to put your rent money to better use

DISCLAIMER: Despite the rather irresponsible title, this post is not intended as legal advice. Nor is it intended to downplay the obligation under the law to pay rent – tenants, fail to do so at your own peril – the peril being an application to terminate your tenancy for non-payment of rent pursuant to s.59(1) of the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, CHAPTER 17 (hereinafter “RTA”) or an application to terminate your tenancy for persistent late payment of the rent pursuant to RTA s.58(1)1. And yes, you can get evicted in winter. Really. Yawn… where was I? Oh, yes…


First up: the requisite ego shot of rather beautiful lacework (if I do say so myself) – my latest progress on the Secret of the Stole II KAL!


And now back to our regular programming. After my disheartening experience on Monday at the Landlord and Tenant Board as chronicled in yesterday’s rant, I was so incensed by landLORDdom and my corresponding serfdom that I spent the portion of the February rent that JJ had given me at Knitomatic.

Well, not quite. But I did score some goodies, and even some bargains!

First up – some Misti Alpaca laceweight, which I just had to have after seeing Katty’s beautiful version of the Muir Shawl on Ravelry.

Beige?!?!? you ask. What is rotten in the state of Brouhaha? I know… but it’s not really beige. See…

It’s got little orangey and yellowy bits in it. There was a real tossup, I may say, between this colour and a lovely bright purple. But I had to restrain myself from buying both when I saw this…

Allhemp3 fingering weight hemp – on sale! This is perfect for a little project I’ve been scheming about – maybe. It’s a shame I can’t draw or graph – this tends to impede the design planning somewhat. Oh well. Minor barriers, surely, and not insuperable… are they?

Oh – and don’t you think these beads that I picked up last week go well with the Misti?

And check out the vintage buttons – $1.00 a pack! Now, this is my kind of dollar store…

Beige again? Is this a trend? ACK!!!

Oh – they also had some new (to me) and rather interesting sock yarn from SWTC called
TOFUtsies. What was interesting about it? Here were the contents:

50% Superwash Wool
25% SOYSILK brand fiber
22.5% Cotton
2.5% Chitin (made from shrimp and crab shells!)

Shrimp and crab shells?!? Should I take up spinning and tell JJ to stop throwing all of the leftover food over the balcony? (but then, the entire raccoon population of West Toronto would die of starvation. Bad karma. Forget it.) Anyway, good thing I don’t knit socks and was not huge on the colourways, otherwise I suspect all of JJs rent money would have been spent!

And then I went home and did some work on this:

This is through Row 112 – only eight more to go to finish Clue 2! I had hoped to finish the rest this morning, but decided it is not a good idea to work on lace at 5:00 a.m. when I’m still half asleep – why do that when I can blat away on the blog and share all my half-baked wisdoms instead??

And now it’s 7ish: here’s what it looks like outside (minus the -15C wind which is making the trees sway wildly…)


AGH. Better head out to work. Sigh. And only yesterday it was above zero and I was out without a hat. Wah.

And on that note, I leave you on this Wednesday (Hump Day) with an unknown work by Dr. Seuss:

sloth

Today, I must say that I’m a bit embarrassed reporting on knitting progress during my all-day legal training yesterday:


That was it. Sigh. I actually could have had many more rows done except that I managed to screw up a few rows and kept having to rip back. My excuse: I didn’t have stitch markers with me. (Doesn’t the Handmaiden Pewter sea silk look glorious, though?)

The real reason: I was too busy gossiping with colleagues and guffawing silently at certain statements the landlord side made (such as: we were pissed off because the Board dared to defer our 5% above the guideline increase rate until we made certain repairs – how dare they?!?!)

It was an interesting training day, actually. Neutrally speaking, what struck me is that the tenant advocates are quite willing to get up and say “yes, our clients screw up from time to time”, while the landlord advocates always assume the tenants have done what they allege. Which is not always the case, in my vast (and jaded, I might add) experience.

The beer session afterward was also quite informative, as always!

On the general topic of laziness as well:

(a) I seem to have developed finishitis respecting JJs vest. Sigh. I really hope to get it done early tomorrow so I can start on the Tilted Duster for ME! I will have nine days to finish it before leaving for holiday. It doesn’t seem all that likely.

(b) I’ll cut this post off here as I have four files to close (involving writing a full answer to the questions posed in each one) and another paper to finish – all before next Friday!

(I will, however, be making time for a quick trip to the LYS today. Another lawyer at the training yesterday told me about a silk/linen blend… eek!!!)

I’m sure you’ll all be heartened to know that on this day in 2003, The Conservative Party of Canada, love child of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party, was formed.

This means that our favourite boy scout, “Presto” Manning:

… and Stock “Doris” Day:

…begat this:

Note the disappearance of the word “Progressive” from the cocktail. Can that be a positive thing from any perspective?

Sigh.