Do not trust the French (subletting tenant)

Finding a place of my own is another thing I’ve never done before. I lived with parents/boyfriends and all the rental agreement lease contract mumbo jumbo was something other people complained about.

So I could blame ignorant naiveté for the mess that almost cost me an apartment before I could move into it. A (semi-)chronological story.

In December/early January I started looking for a place in Ottawa, mostly on Kijiji. With plans of having my boyfriend stay over, a room plus room mates wasn’t an option. Short term rentals (who knows how long I’d stay), furnished (who knows how long I’d stay) were an option, and quite quickly I found a studio, completely all inclusive, nice prize, nice location. After some basic research to prevent another “too good to be true”, and a long to and fro of half-French emails, I could come over and have a look.

Yes, it was petite, but very fine for one, and all the other stuff checked out. Or so I guessed, because leaving tenant didn’t speak a lot of English, nor understood the remaining part. Nervous but pleased, I forgot the important questions until I was outside. To make sure she’d understand them, I Google Translated them to French and asked for contact information of her land lord, just to make sure everything could go ahead.

Answers weren’t that forthcoming, but I should come over to sign the agreement some time and yes, the studio would be available. I was already planning the many things I could use my semi-permanent address for.

But then.
Four days before the planned move I got another message from the landlord. Without his okay and the tenant’s written admittance of leaving, I couldn’t move in on risk of being a trespasser. Which would lead to him getting the police involved. Turns out that the previous tenant wasn’t the best in communication and following rules/orders, and if I wanted to move in March 1, I better show up with a bucketload of paper work and proof of being a considerate citizen.

I brought biscotti, three IDs, and loads of apologies about how I’m a naive dumb-dumb, new to town, and a beginner in French. My first impression got a polish.
Still, that didn’t mean I could waltz in. Being a rolling stone, land lord wanted several months of rent at once, for (his) financial security. Not being that rich, we settled on three. Next, I (me!) needed to get written admittance from the previous tenant. This after a bank run (goodbye, savings account), and the message that I had 24 hours to do so.
After a few hours of translated texts and begging, I heard from the landlord that he got what he needed. Except for the keys, could I let ex-tenant know to deliver those as soon as possible?

I don’t know if this communication-triangle is usual, nor what I will walk into this Tuesday. As long as its’s going to be the apartment, with keys and lease contract in hand, I’m going to call it a win.


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