thoughts on luxury, plus know your rights, rental edition, part three

We have to move.

We are heartsick over it.

Our landlord is selling the house we live in. We're not letting ourselves get kicked out (see below), but chances are very good we'll have to move, so we're taking steps to find a place sooner rather than later.

With the shock of our landlord's announcement faded - at least a bit! - we've been able to evaluate our options. And sadly, very sadly, we realize that we should stop renting houses and go back to apartment life.

Comfort is easy. Less comfort is not.

It's incredibly easy to grow accustomed to certain comforts and conveniences...and famously difficult to give them up. Entire miniseries and movies are premised on spoiled rich people learning how the other 99% lives. But you need not be Johnny Rose to experience this. Even a little comfort, once savoured, is difficult to part with.

The house we have been renting for the past two years is the nicest place either of us have ever lived in. We'll probably end up living in an apartment that would have once seemed incredible to us: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, beautifully maintained building. But our standard of living has gone up. And it's hard to go back.

The toughest part is the backyard. My last several years in New York City, I craved some bit of outdoor space. I swore that even the tiniest backyard, a little square of grass, would satisfy me. Now it's been 10 years of wonderfully spacious backyards. I can scarcely express how much we have loved this. Every night that weather permits we eat outdoors. If we're home and it's nice out, we are in the backyard. I have treasured this.

We've also become such lazy dog owners! We take our dogs to the dog park and we walk together for fun and exercise. But on a daily basis, we simply open the back door. In New York, we walked our dogs four times a day - two long walks and two quick ones. We walked them in the rain and in the snow. We walked them after work, we walked them in the morning, and late at night. How did we do this?? I can't remember!

Our dogs now spend so much time outside. They chase squirrels and bark at passing trucks. They stare out a window at passers-by. Now they'll be apartment dogs again. They'll have a good life, I know that. But I know what they'll be missing.

There's always an upside.

Of course we've discovered the upside of the situation.

- No stairs for Tala! Because of Tala's spine condition, she cannot walk stairs. We have doggy ramps on the back and front entrances, but she either can't sleep in our bedroom or she comes upstairs only to sleep, but it's a struggle. Apartment life will be easier onTala. And of course all dogs do better without stairs as they age.

- Our monthly expenses will decrease considerably. Rents are high in our area, but the rent on our current house is crazy. We also pay our own utilities, which will be included in an apartment rental. We'll likely reduce our monthly costs by $500 per month, a sizeable change.

- No snow shoveling.

- No lawn mowing.

That's all I came up with.

Know your rights, rental edition, part three

You may recall that last year our landlord tried to raise our rent by 11%, when the legal increase rent was 0.8% for 2014 and 1.6% for 2015. And he wanted the extra money in cash, in an envelope, with no record of the rent increase in writing! When we objected, he first threatened some further illegality, then backed down.

Thus it comes as no surprise that the same landlord is trying to have us move out before we are required to do so. Under Ontario law, the landlord can ask us to move only after he has a buyer, and only after it is determined that the buyer wants to live in the house or have a family member live here. He would then apply for an eviction order and give us 60-days' notice.

But this lovely landlord is in a hurry for us to move: he wants to make improvements on the house that would be impossible with us living here. To do that, he'll either need an order from the Landlord Tenant Board, which is highly unlikely to happen, or he'll need to offer us an incentive to vacate sooner.

Meanwhile, we're looking for apartments. And bemoaning the loss of our backyard.

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