How a pair of 30-somethings found a rental home big enough for a family

How a pair of 30-somethings found a rental home big enough for a family

The renters: Zach Fiksel, the 37-year-old owner of Chimney Stax Baking Co., and his wife, Suzy, a 32-year-old who works for RBC.

The story: After getting married in February, Zach and Suzy decided to move out of their $1,800-per-month apartment at Bathurst and St. Clair. They were looking to rent a bigger space—ideally a small house with enough room for a child or two, plus a guest room for when Suzy’s family members visit from Brazil. They were hoping to spend a maximum of $2,100 per month.

They quickly found a house in Richmond Hill, just north of Bayview and Major Mackenzie. They were awed enough by the interior to offer $150 over the landlord’s $1,950 asking price, but when they took possession in October they learned the dirty truth. “Under the façade of the house, the place was in complete disrepair,” Zach says. The plumbing filled the shower with dirty water, there was mould, and the air filters for the furnace and ducts had never been replaced. They were able to get out of the lease, leaving them with six weeks to find a new house. They knew they might need to exceed their original budget to make it happen.

Option 1

Yonge and Steeles, advertised for $2,500 per month

When they toured this three-bedroom house, it was occupied by at least eight people—and smelled like it. “It was a mix of old food, sweat, and neglect,” Zach says. The place was in shambles. The kitchen was worn and tired, and the appliances looked like they had never been replaced. The bathrooms were grody and didn’t seem like they’d scrub clean. It was an automatic pass.

Option 2

Avondale Avenue (near Yonge and Sheppard), advertised for $2,500 per month

This house looked okay from the outside, but the inside was cramped, and half of the rooms were locked, even though Zach and Suzy had arranged a viewing well in advance. The worst part was that the 401 was practically in the backyard. The highway noise was loud enough that they could hear it from the bedrooms. They passed.

The choice

Sultana Avenue (near Bathurst and Wilson), $2,500 per month

After three days of touring dumps, Zach got a call from a family friend who’s a realtor. A four-bedroom house had just been listed for rent. It was over their budget, but fear of being stuck in their Richmond Hill slum kept their minds and wallets open. There was fresh paint in every room—even the closets. Most of the appliances were only a few years old and in great condition, and the basement was fully furnished. They made an offer on the spot and the landlord accepted their application within 24 hours. They moved in on November 1, and not a moment too soon: their first child is on its way.

Here’s the living room:

The furnished basement:

A bathroom:

And the master bedroom:

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The Hunt