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Landlords, slumlords, dustpans and dirt

My former landlord, The Centretown Citizens Corporation of Ottawa (CCOC) might be the best landlord in Ottawa. They have a good supply of roomy, reasonably inexpensive apartments scattered around Centretown. They don’t make you pay the last month’s rent when you move in, they let you move out when you want, they are okay with pets, and they even offer you free flowers in the springtime for your balcony.

I’ve lived in three of their apartments – one on Arlington Street, and two on Rochester. CCOC leaves their apartments vacant for two weeks between tenants so they can make repairs, change locks, paint and clean. If you’ve ever moved into someone else’s filth, you know how icky it is.

I once moved into an apartment that was only half empty – the swine who lived there before me just took what they wanted and left their crappiest crap for me. The tub and toilet were disgusting, and there was rotting food in the fridge. It’s one thing to live in your own dirt, but trying to make a fresh start in someone else’s squalor is depressing. The slumlord did nothing to make the place halfway livable between tenants.

Speaking of slumlords, I had a Quann Agency apartment on McLeod Street with a front door fully 14 inches shorter than the door frame. No kidding. I used to come home and find the neighbourhood urchin eating my ice cream and watching my TV – he just squeezed under the front door. (Of course the landlord SAID he would replace the door or fill in the gap before I moved in, but once he had my money it was a whole different story.) The living room window had no glass. It was December before he replaced it – and I had to be a real bitch every day for a month to get that glass. (Sometimes I envy people who are naturally bitchy: I had to psych myself into bitch mode every day before making the call.)

I had a cheap little bachelor apartment on Lisgar Street that had dark brown water coming out of the hot water taps. Some days it was darker and thicker than others. I couldn’t see the bottom of the tub when I ran a bath. I had to brace myself to lower my naked body into that stuff. The landlord, an elderly man who could barely climb the stairs, would come over and look at it whenever I called him about it, then shake his head sadly, say something in Chinese, and shuffle away. He was nice, though, and ancient, so I wasn’t a bitch about it. Eventually I learned to share his sense of sad resignation about the dark brown water.

I passed up a few apartments that were even drearier. One had a suicide note stuck to the front door.

The only thing dreary about a CCOC apartment is the dark grey utility carpeting that covered every square inch of flooring in every CCOC apartment I’ve seen. It wasn’t pretty but it was practical…it hid a multitude of sins. Your dog could have explosive liquid diarrhea for a week and you’d never see it….that carpeting just ate it up.

Today's stair-sweeping yieldNow that I have hardwood floors, I realize just how much dirt that carpeting hid. I love my hardwood floors. A person (especially a person with a dog) could spend an awful lot of time sweeping and swiffering hardwood. The novelty hasn’t worn off though. I’m still in awe of how often I can fill a dustpan. I swept the stairs just yesterday, and here is a photo of today’s yield. Sweeping’s much more satisfying than vacuuming, because I get to see the results of my labour in a pile. I’m not sucking invisible dirt out of a magic dirt-hiding carpet into the black hole of a dirt-eating machine. Plus it’s quiet and peaceful and the broom doesn’t scare the dog much. The only downsides: Sam likes to walk through the pile I’m creating, and I can never get that last thin line of dirt into the dustpan.

7 comments to Landlords, slumlords, dustpans and dirt

  • kat

    I have hardwood floors. They are healthier and so much easier to clean and maintain.

  • A suicide note! Good lord.

    I thought you had to be a single mom or be on welfare or something to get a CCOC apartment. Do they have many market-value rent ones?

  • Gillian

    I’ve got two dogs so I know what you mean about dust and dirt. I’ve got both bare floor and carpeting. It’s horrid to think about what might be in the carpets.

  • It’s remaindirt!

    (That line of dirt you can never get rid of when you’re sweeping up.)

    There was a CBC radio show that was all about inventing words for things that existed and everyone knew about but no one had thought to name. Some were okay, some were dumb, but remaindirt has stuck with me for years. Long after the name of the program, sadly.

  • Robin, about 1/4 of CCOC housing is subsidized, the rest is market value.

    Gillian, I’m glad I went from CCOC carpeting to hardwood, rather than the other way round – at least I never knew.

    Megan, I LOVE the word remaindirt and will use it from now on!

  • Bethany

    The best way I’ve found to get rid of remaindirt (I’ll be using that word from now on) is a damp washrag or paper towel. Works like a charm, except then you start thinking “hmm, maybe I should mop too…” and then you’re stuck.

  • […] said it before that my favourite landlord is the Centretown Citizens of Ottawa Corporation (CCOC). It’s a […]