Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wanted: An apartment in downtown Toronto. Please.

Dear Toronto Landlords and Landladies,

My name is Alex and I’m a looking for an apartment in downtown Toronto. In fact, I’m moving to your fine city tomorrow around noon. I’m moving from Ottawa – Canada’s capital. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s nice, but not Toronto-nice. That’s why I’m moving.

I don’t even have a place arranged to sleep tomorrow night. What I do have is a collection of very generous friends who have offered a collection of very uncomfortable pieces of furniture (or floor) for me to sleep on.

In any case, I obviously need somewhere to live in this mythical city you call The Big Smoke. And I’d rather not sleep on my pal Boris’s floor for the next month and a half – both for the sake of my back and for the fact that I hate to impose to such an extent.

And so I’ve come up with this outlandish idea of finding my own apartment to live in. Crazy, I know, but stay with me here.

I started my apartment search on July 25 – nearly two full months ago. You might think it’s weird that I remember the exact day…I think it’s weird that you care. Let’s agree to disagree. Anyways, the enduring point that you should take away from this paragraph is that I’ve been apartment hunting for nearly two full months. TWO MONTHS. I’m not looking to buy a house here folks. I’m looking for an apartment. Bachelor or one bedroom. I don’t care. I just want something.

Sure, I have a few other stipulations. It must be downtown, and ideally it should be within 15 minutes walking distance of the Bloor line between Lansdowne and Castle Frank. I’d prefer not to co-habit with bedbugs. I’d appreciate if my prospective landlord didn’t buy drugs off one of his tenans while I waited to see his apartment. I’d rather not be offered a “bachelor” apartment that is actually an unequipped room in a flophouse filled with drug-addled miscreants…for the low, low price of $800. I want an apartment that I can stand up fully straight in without hitting my head. And no, I don’t want to live in your wretched basement apartment. (And yes, I can tell it’s a basement even if you don’t say so in the listing. Those paneled florescent lights and the single, one square foot window are dead giveaways. Go try to make easy money somewhere else.) Outrageous demands? Not really. A little constraining, sure. But I don’t feel like I’m asking too much.

Should it really be this hard to find a place downtown? Isn’t this the city that continuously makes national headlines for having an overbuilt condo market? Are the owners of these units just letting them sit vacant while they laugh at nondescript nobodies like myself who vent their unending frustrations to the cavernous wasteland that is the Internet? Is the city of Toronto collectively pulling a fast one on me? Is it personal? I don’t get it. Just rent me a *%$@!#*&@ apartment already. Christ almighty.

Would it help if I offered some incentive (even if that is your – the landlord’s – job?) How about I tell you that I have six months in cold hard cash worth of deposit waiting to inject into your favourite bank account? How about I tell you that I have a credit check ready and waiting to be examined by you or your favourite personal assistant (my credit is perfect, in case you’re wondering)? How about I tell you that I’ve even typed up a cover letter for my rental applications, as if I was applying for a job or an Ivy League business school? I’m not – I’m just looking for a godforsaken place to live – but I’ve done it anyways. How about I tell you that I don’t smoke? How about I tell you that I don’t own a pet, and would never, ever think of getting one? Do you want me to sign a decade long lease? What do you want?

As far as I can tell, the only way to get a decent apartment in this city is to sit at your computer and refresh Craigslist, View It, Kijiji, Pad Mapper and every other rental sight every eight minutes while remaining in constant communication with all of your Toronto friends and family to ensure that they are asking all of their friends and family to be on the lookout for a place for you at all hours of the day. I’ve actually done these things. I’ve even resorted to such old-school methods as looking at newspaper classifieds and biking through entire neighbourhoods to find “for rent” signs. Nothing has worked. And that, my friends, is completely and utterly fucking absurd.

I’ve come close. Two nights ago I found a great looking pad at Bloor and Ossington. I e-mailed the guy 23 minutes after it was posted, including a copy of my credit report and my references, also offering up four months rent in advance. I didn’t get an e-mail back. This morning I actually got through to a fella looking to sublet his place at Bloor and Avenue. I offered six months cash in advance this time. He was reticent, but agreed to show the place to me. I called him back shortly after to set up a time; the apartment had already been rented.

This is fucked. You people are fucked and your city is fucked. I don’t know why I’m letting you do this to me, but I am. I want to live in fucking Toronto, and I’m going to do it whether or not you give me somewhere to live. I’ve offered up just about everything short of sexual favours for an apartment. Please don’t make me go any further.

I just want an apartment. Not a drug den, or an old folks home, or a squalid basement hovel. Just something normal. Just an apartment: a-p-a-r-t…you get the point. I know we can make this happen together.

Say it with me now…Yes. We. Cangetthisguyanapartmentbeforeheloseshismindandgivesupallhopeforyourcityandthehumanrace.

Thank you and good day.

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