When I came back to Canada after walking and living in Europe for a few months I found an apartment on Churchill Avenue in Ottawa – one of 3 suites in a house.
The location was pretty good – once again, not far from this Westboro neighbourhood I am so fond of. The house was in decent shape, although it could have used some general repairs and TLC. My apartment was on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The kitchen was on the 2nd floor – and then up the flight of stairs was a low-ceiling attic room where I had my bed, books and hanging-out space. I spent most of my time working on a book.
As I usually did when I would move into a new place, I painted the walls. The kitchen I painted a sunny yellow, the attic two shades of slate blue.
Landlords usually loved me as a tenant. I would paint the walls (often at my own expense, although with this place the landlord reimbursed me for the paint). I paid my rent on time and didn’t cause any ruckus. But in this case, the landlord and I ended up in court.
Not long after I moved in, I noticed that my kitchen would often smell strongly of cigarette smoke. This got worse at the weather turned colder. I discovered that my neighbor across the hall, a scruffy, skinny, older guy with greasy blond hair, would stand just inside the doorway to smoke. There was an air vent right above him that basically fed directly into my kitchen. On top of this, he played his music so loud that my dishes would rattle in the cupboard.
I tried talking to him – he cussed at me. I tried talking to the landlord. He said it wasn’t his problem. I asked to end my lease and find a new tenant. He refused to let me out of the one-year lease, even after I found a new tenant. So I ended up going to the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Housing to file a complaint.
I was given the option of mediation, which I accepted. I won the case – a personal victory. But an unpleasant situation overall.