By Benoît Baule, special to La Bohème
Each week, the editors of La Bohème newspaper pick a theme for their issue, and solicit real stories from real Torontonians. In our “Rent Is Too Damn High” issue, our Perspectives Column was penned by concerned citizen and landlord Benoît Baule.
We’ve all read stories about the lousy kinds of landlords around our great city. In the last few years, “The Six” has seen a spate of terrible, just terrible landlords treating their tenants badly. They ignore repairs, raise the rent, or evict without notice — you name it. But, I have to ask: What do you do if it’s the tenants who are the problem?
I live in the West End* and I’ve been a very successful, very trustworthy landlord in Toronto for many years. I rent properties in Corso Italia, Little Italy, the Annex and the former Mirvish Village area — and I have to tell you, nobody’s ever had a problem with me. Ask any of my old renters and they’ll say, “Benoît? Big Ben? Most trustworthy landlord I ever had. What a guy.”**
Now, the problem tenants in question, who are a couple of young guys, rent an apartment on Brunswick Street. I admit it’s no Palais Royale. But I charge a modest, competitive rate and I include hot water and a parking space — and they still act like they live in a cave. I just heard complaints that they were burning a fire — a literal fire — in the living room for heat, which I’m sure is because they had their electricity cut for not paying their bills. I haven’t gotten a rent payment from these two “artists” in months, but whenever I show up to get my money, guess what? There’s always drinks available! I have a line of potential renters who would kill for a great apartment like this one, and wouldn’t stiff me month after month with promises of “Once my script gets picked up” and on and on…
I’m a patient guy, and I’ve tried many, many times to get them out of there. Somehow, they end up appealing to my sense of goodwill and charity, and I give them another chance. My wife was right, I need to be tougher with these tenants. But I can’t help it. I guess I’m just a humanist.
I’ve got no choice left but to go over there and give them official notice that come the New Year, New People will be living in that space — ones who’ll understand that you can’t take advantage of Big Ben.
**Note from the Editor: Former tenants declined to respond to our request for veracity.