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The Eyeopener — Housing Issue

The Eyeopener — Housing Issue

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The Eyeopener — Housing Issue
The Eyeopener — Housing Issue

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Published by: The Eyeopener on Mar 19, 2014
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Eyeopener’s guide to finding a place to hang your hat in the tangled mess that is downtown housing


By Nicole Schmidt
Finding a place to live is no easy task. We’re not in kindergarten anymore — you can’t just build a house out of foam blocks and expect to happily go about your dayto-day life drinking apple juice out of a fancy teacup. This is the real world and in the real world, most people prefer to live in buildings made out of bricks — none of this straw-or-sticks bullshit. But preferences aside, the search

for an apartment can be overwhelming and cause unnecessary headaches. At times, opting for a nice, cozy box on the street may even seem like a promising alternative. But have no fear, The Eyeopener is here to give you the 4-1-1 on everything you need to know about finding a place in downtown Toronto. Unlike other university towns in Ontario like London or Kingston, Toronto isn’t exactly known for having a lot of readily available housing students can actually afford. This can make the search for a place that much more difficult, as many buildings close to campus come with a price tag

high enough to make your bank account weep. But regardless of whether you’re a penthouse-suite type or a dingy basementapartment dweller, there is a place out there suited for your budget and lifestyle — it’s just a matter of finding it. Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. Need to know which neighbourhood best suits your personality? No problem. There’s a perfect spot for all you misunderstood hipsters, tortured artists and Jersey Shore wannabes. Would you prefer not to share your room with rodents and bed bugs? We’ll

give you the lowdown on which areas in the city to watch out for (unless you’re a fan of odd pets, in which case we’ll tell you where to find them). Do housing contracts make you want to put your hand through a paper shredder? We can save you a trip to the hospital and unnecessary pain by laying out the basics. Have a roommate who’s made you consider leaving the city to pursue life as a hermit? There’s an article for that too. We hope that this series of pages will make finding an apartment seem a bit less daunting and prevent you from carving out your eyes with a rusty spoon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014





Wednesday, March 19, 2014



A view of Church-Wellesley Village looking north from Church Street.

An aerial view of Cabbagetown and St. James Town looking south toward Lake Ontario.

1. Church-Wellesley Village
Fondly known as The Village, the area around Church and Wellesley streets is home to Toronto’s LGBTQ community. The area features a huge variety of inclusive nightclubs, restaurants and arts venues. It’s also the site of the annual Pride parade, the largest event of its kind in Canada. The area is popular with students because of the wide range of housing available — there’s a good mix of low-rise apartments, detached or semi-detached Victorian homes and high-rise buildings.

2. Central Downtown
One of the most in-demand areas in the city, apartments here go fast. Amenities are always steps away and the most popular areas of the city — such as the Distillery District, the Entertainment District and City Hall — are all within walking distance. The downtown core is also the hub of Toronto’s public transport system. Living downtown is expensive, but if you’re willing to pay for the convenience or to have a lot of roommates, it’s well worth it.

3. Cabbagetown/St. James Town
Cabbagetown got its nickname from Irish immigrants who moved to the area in the 1840s and grew cabbage in their front lawns. It’s the largest area of preserved Victorian houses in North America and became a heritage conservation district in 2004. St. James Town, while close in proximity to Cabbagetown, is actually one of Toronto’s economically deprived neighbourhoods. It’s the largest high-rise community in Canada and the most densely populated.

4. The Annex
The Annex has a massive student population — the rent isn’t sky high and its proximity to big-name schools and convenient transit lines make it the best of both worlds for cash-strapped undergrads. The tree-lined streets and beautiful architecture don’t hurt either. The area is incredibly pedestrian-friendly, as its many businesses and amenities cater to the student residents. Young professionals and families settle here as well, making the area one of the trendiest in the city.


5. High Park
Primarily a residential neighbourhood, High Park makes up in leafy greenery what it lacks in amenities. Even though it’s not exactly downtown, rent can still be fairly high simply because of its proximity to the very popular park of the same name — one of the largest green spaces in the city. During the summer, the area is especially crowded with Torontonians looking to escape the confines of skyscrapers and traffic. Living near so much nature is sure to have its benefits, but be prepared to deal with the Toronto Transit Commission on a near-daily basis.

The Eyeopener’s Arts and Life editor, Leah Hansen, gives you the definitive, student-tested descriptions of all the neighbourhoods you’ve heard of but haven’t been to


A residential street in High Park.



Both Moss Park and Regent Park are dominated by community housing co-ops and row houses.

Both Little Italy and Palmerston are known for their wide sidewalks and open-air cafés.

6. The Beaches
An incredibly popular tourist destination, the Beaches is located at the very east end of Queen Street and is known (and named) for the one long stretch of uninterrupted sandy shoreline, which runs approximately three kilometres. It’s arguably one of the most scenic areas of the city with tree-lined streets, cottagelike houses and wide-open views of Lake Ontario. Its proximity to public transit — the 501 streetcar runs here all the way from downtown — make it an attractive option for students on a budget who don’t mind the commute.

7. Regent Park/Moss Park
Regent Park is technically a big housing project — one of Canada’s oldest and largest. Originally home to Toronto’s slum district in the early 1900s, the current projects were built to alleviate high crime rates. The area is now known for a high rate of poverty and unemployment and above-average rates of crime and drug abuse. Moss Park is also home to housing projects. Both areas are almost exclusively rented out. Due to a city revitalization plan, the area is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment with the goal of creating a more mixedincome neighbourhood.

8. Chinatown/Kensington Market
Kensington Market was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2006. It’s a Toronto landmark and one of its biggest tourist destinations with its large outdoor market, rich history and European-esque pedestrian friendliness. Chinatown is also one of Toronto’s most well-known neighbourhoods — it’s one of the largest ethnic Chinese enclaves in North America. Both areas are incredibly student-friendly, with their close proximity to major schools in the area and excellent budget-friendly shopping options.

9. Little Italy/Palmerston
Both Little Italy and Palmerston are famously close-knit neighbourhoods. There’s a heavy Italian cultural presence with numerous Italian restaurants and businesses and an abundance of café patios. Since the 1980s, the area has become popular with students and youth for its vibrant nightlife — many young professionals have also moved into the area’s Edwardian homes. If you like the small-town feel, but need the convenience of being near downtown, Little Italy or Palmerston might be right for you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014



By Erin Petrow and Lara Onayak

The landlord’s responsibilities
• • A landlord must provide a lease, which is a contract that lets you (the tenant) stay in the property for a set period of time. It includes how much your rent will cost and what it covers. They must fix anything that breaks or does not work properly (for example: a broken refrigerator, a clogged drain or leaking pipes). Don’t forget this bylaw — they have to help you get rid of pests like mice, termites and those dreaded bed bugs.


• • •

A landlord is NOT allowed to refuse you their property on the basis of race, gender, orientation, age, marital status, family status or citizenship. If you’re on social assistance or have a disability, these are not valid reasons for a landlord to refuse you the chance to apply for a lease. Before you move in to your new crib, your landlord will ask you for the first and last month’s rent. You can only start unpacking after you pay. If your landlord asks you for a damage deposit, you do NOT have to give it to them. That is illegal. Your last month’s rent IS the damage deposit. Your landlord will probably ask for someone else, a guarantor, to cosign the lease. This way, if you don’t pay the rent, the cosigner has to pay. If you have a pet, a landlord can choose to not rent to you. But if your landlord already knew of your pet(s) when you moved in, they cannot evict you on that basis. Some contracts include utilities, but others don’t. Utilities include heating, water, electricity, cable and internet. If utilities aren’t included, expect to pay around $200 for a unit per month on top of rent. When your lease expires, you do not have to renew it. The original terms of the lease still apply, but it will now be on a month-to-month basis.

Your responsibilities
• • • • You must fix any item(s) you purposely break. That wall you punched in a drunken stupor? Better call a contractor. If you need something fixed, write it down when you first move in. Give that sheet to your landlord, so that there is proof that you told the landlord of the damage. CLEAN. Please. You do not want to deal with fruit flies or other pests just because you’re too lazy to do the dishes. The further away you live from campus, the cheaper the rent may be. However, that means that you might need to take transit to get to campus. A post-secondary TTC metropass costs $108 and cash fare is $3 per ride, so keep that in mind when looking for a place.


Always beware of pests. In residential areas, watch out for bed bugs. If you choose a place in a commercial area like Chinatown, the high amount of restaurants may attract rodents and cockroaches. Either way, clean regularly and things will be easier for you.

• • • •

Know your rights. For further information on landlord and tenant rights in Ontario, go to www.ltb. gov.on.ca/en.

A sublet is when you (the tenant) want to temporarily lease your place to another person. Your landlord MUST be aware that you are subletting the property to another person. If the subtenant moves in without the landlord knowing, that’s bad. If the landlord finds out within 60 days, the subtenant can be evicted. The landlord CANNOT deny your request to sublet without a valid reason, such as a poor credit score. A credit score is a background check to determine how trustworthy you are in paying back your debt. The landlord CANNOT charge the subtenant any extra fees.




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Everything you need to know about coexisting with a roommate
By Olivia McLeod
We’ve all heard roommate horror stories: cruel practical jokes, petty theft, bodily harm, suspicious disappearances — the list goes on. Although there can be days where pushing your roommate off a balcony seems like the only solution, it is possible to maintain sanity. Valerie Bruce, Ryerson Student Housing Services’ communications and residence service desk facilitator, suggests creating a roommate contract (look to The Big Bang Theory for inspiration). “Having a contract, which [may] sound silly, helps because it’s very clear,” Bruce said. “If you make that before you move in together, then when there is a conflict and a discussion around an issue, you can use those as statements and express how you’re feeling.” Although it might seem obvious, being honest and straightforward is key. Did your roommate eat all of your cereal? Instead of seeking revenge by peeing on their toothbrush, confront them. In some scenarios, they might not even realize they did something wrong. Addressing the issue (and by addressing I mean talking about it, not leaving passive-aggressive Post-it notes on the bathroom mirror) is the best way to solve the problem. “[It’s like] making mountains out of molehills. There’s a small incident, you could go talk to them about it and deal with it quickly. Instead, you leave it, you stew about it, a couple more things happen and then you explode,” Bruce said. The root of a problem (or a solution) can be dependent on who you decide to live with. Just because you’re good friends, that doesn’t always mean you’ll be good roommates — it varies depending on personality type. Samir Ballou, a second-year radio and television arts student lives with a close friend he met in residence. For him, the experience has been positive. “We both are very lenient, so we put up with just about any antics,” he said. “All in all, the key is sharing and putting up with [each other] at our worst and being fine with it.” But others, like second-year business management student, Fiona Watt have found themselves in the opposite situation. Watt lives in a five-bedroom house. In the past year, four people have moved out. She attributes clashing personalities as the reason behind this. “Don’t live with your best friend because you won’t be best friends by the end of the lease,” Watt said. “I think it honestly comes down to how you were raised and how you lived your life before you met these roommates.” To find replacements, Watt posted ads on websites like Craigslist and Kijiji outlining the qualities she wanted in a potential roommate. After a few weeks, she found suitable matches. Finding a roommate and being able to coexist with them is a challenge. But if you can make the essential readjustments required to keep everyone happy, there will be no need to curse the day your roommate was born.

At times, living with another person can be challenging.


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Check out www.theeyeopener. com for more roommate-survival advice and additional tips on how to find a roommate.

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