Let me start this by saying I don’t live in a slum. I live in a nice ground floor apartment of a townhouse… there are mature trees and groomed yards all round and the going rate for houses on this street has been 1- 1.5 mill in the past few years. I’m very lucky because I moved here in 2006 and have enjoyed the best situation that rent control can provide. My landlord is not a monster. But now please let me bitch about my landlord!
2 days ago- the first snowstorm of the season- I noticed that my apartment smelled like natural gas. Only I could smell it- not the people upstairs- but I called the gas company to be sure. When he arrived, I recognized the gas guy right away from his visits in previous years, and he recognized the smell the second he walked in the door. Good to know I wasn’t being paranoid. He did his tests, determined there was a leak and shut off my heat and hot water. Then I called my landlord.
It was night so he said he’d come the next day and I decided to get into my warm bed early and sleep through the rest of the snow storm.
My landlord is a contractor and for every problem that he can’t do himself, he has a “guy.” I know Scotty is the heat guy because I’ve seen him so many times over the years and I really feel like if Scotty was a good heat guy, I wouldn’t know his name at all. My landlord said Scotty was coming at 2pm so I made sure to be out around 2pm.
I don’t like Scotty. He’s old school in the bad way. One time when the furnace was broken, he fixed it, then directed me to the thermostat controls. “Here, I set it to (cold number.)” “Oh,” I said, “I’ll need it higher than that.” I reached up towards the dial to change it and he pushed my hand away as if it was a panic situation. “No! That is a nice number! You will like that number!” Then I’m left with a worry- Is it that any change on the thermostat dial will break the furnace- which is what one would read from his panicked expression- or is it that he’s such a misogynist dickwad that he’s decided he’s the expert on what a “nice number” is for a stranger’s body. When I asked my landlord, it was determined that there is nothing wrong with changing the dial and Scott is just a dickwad.
I work from home so I took the Scotty time to go see a movie. When I came home and opened the door, the tremendous stink of natural gas hit me so strongly that I yelled “what the fuck??!” and immediately called my landlord.
My landlord told me that the smell was just left over from the work they did. The gas had to be let out to test the pressure and it left a stink, and not to worry- just air the place out. THOUGH there is a SMALL leak left, enough that they’re going to come back in 2 days to replace all the pipes, but, don’t worry, it’s SAFE. Of course, I worried. I tried to think of a delicate way to ask whether a professional had deemed it safe or if it was just Scotty, and I couldn’t, so I flat out asked, and yes, this was Scotty’s assessment.
ALSO. My landlord wanted to me to know that he fixed the smoke detector. My ceilings are high and so I can’t reach the detectors- I can only jab at them with a broom handle. This is why the one in the front of the house had it’s battery door open with the battery half hanging out. It’s all I could get done with the broomstick to stop it from chirping when the battery got low.
This is how “fixing it” went:
Him: I got the ladder out and fixed your smoke detector.
Me: Oh great
Him: You know, it won’t work with the battery hanging out like that…
Me: … (Things need power sources??? HUH!) So you put in a new battery?
Him: Oh, it needed a new battery?
Me: Yes. That’s why the battery was hanging out.
Him: Oh. Well I pushed it back in. Hmmm… Well if it starts chirping again, you can jab at the detector with a broom and then the battery will hang out, and then it will stop chirping.
Me: … GEE THANKS.
Anyways, back to the gas. I sat with the windows and doors open, and fans running, shivering for hours and still smelling gas. My throat started to get scratchy. I heard my neighbours upstairs come home. I was googling physical symptoms when the phone rang- it was my landlord.
My neighbours upstairs were so alarmed by the smell that they insisted he come and turn the gas off again. So that was a relief- 30 minutes travel time and my landlord would be here and I could at least start thinking about other things.
However, it was only 15 minutes until the doorbell rang- it was the same Gas man (emergency official from the gas company who does not do actual repairs) from the night before. The gas smell was SO STRONG that my neighbour next door in a different house had called the gas company! We insisted the gas man stay to meet my landlord. Then he was ushered upstairs where apparently the smell was crazy strong.
Now I was out on the porch meeting the next door neighbour who had called the gas company. He had just moved in and seemed nice. I took my opportunity to delicately ask about THE SNORING. Who was living in the unit beside mine? No one? That’s weird, because I’ve been hearing snoring….
This is how I learned that the snoring that has been so loud it keeps me awake is:
- Indeed from another house- which I’ve never heard of. A person being woken by someone snoring outside their house, even if it is an attached house
- From another FLOOR- not the unit beside me, but beside AND above
- And from a WOMAN, this poor man’s mother in law. Insert Rodney Dangerfield joke here.
I think maybe he said she was just on extended visit and I sure as fuck hope so. Anyways, then my neighbour from upstairs came down with the gas man. The source of the smell had been identified: Her stove had been left on. Scotty had turned on her stove 6+ hours before to test it and forgot to turn it off. It had been spewing gas all this time. Very dangerous, if you don’t know anything about gas. Potentially explosive. They have 2 young kids.
We all collectively wtf’d and then noticed my landlord had arrived. Once I was sure the gas man was talking to him, I went inside. I didn’t want to talk to him. The gas was turned off again. I mean, we know now that it was the stove, but if Scott is stupid enough to leave the stove on, can we trust his assessment that everything else is fine? I’ll take shivering, thanks.
So now it’s the next day and the pipes aren’t being replaced until tomorrow. I don’t mind being cold for a bit, and can go out to someplace warm, but being without a shower is painful. This is something I know will be lost on my landlord. Even when they turn the gas back on tomorrow while they’re working, I can’t shower with Scott in the house. Sometimes I have to be very blunt to explain things that are common sense.
In general, that’s the experience here. The rent is super cheap, but the trade off is this “family” dynamic where my landlord acts as DIY dad. The dad part is the problem, not the DIY part. He is a professional contractor but he also passes judgments about what’s safe, private, appropriate, fast. Like Scotty and the thermostat or when my landlord moved my bike from inside to the backyard and left it there without telling me. He decided that’s safe and it doesn’t matter that it’s my bike or, in the case of gas, my body that’s going to get exploded. He does “improvements” without asking, like when I came home to ugly industrial shelves installed in my bathroom. He leaves things half done but no note explaining what’s going on. He’s the hen and what he decides for his stupid little chicks is going to have to be good enough. However he’s not qualified to make these decisions. He hasn’t had 3 bikes stolen from living in downtown Toronto. He’s not a woman who lives alone worrying about workmen being around. And he’s Scotty-blind.
So that’s the story so far. One more day of waiting (Gas guy: “Why you have to wait for fix? Get landlord call someone now!”) and I’ll have heat and hot water again. Fingers crossed.
Update: The gas was fixed by 2 professionals, neither of which was Scotty. I never saw Scotty *thumbs up emoji*