Repairs may prove costly

Town council is considering some expensive repairs to one of the low-income units in the community.

Lola Strand, the Community Services Manager, gave a report to council April 3 regarding damages to a unit the Town took control of in July 2022.

Strand said the situation had shown gaps in procedures for inspections on the properties and they were currently working on making some adjustments.

She says at the time the Town took over management of the Cadence Court unit, the property manager did not supply them with any lease agreements or move-in inspections. In an effort to mitigate this situation, the Town gave notice to do an inspection on the property. However, at that time they did not have a key and the tenant was not home.

The previous property manager advised the Town that the tenant had always been good and was easy to work with. So, when the tenant contacted the Town to let them know he was working away, they asked him to come into the Town office to sign a new lease agreement.

No inspection was completed at that time, though the tenant mentioned there was a cracked window and the dishwasher wasn’t working.

By June of 2023, the tenant had been instructed to provide proof of insurance, but three attempts to email the tenant went unanswered. By the fall, the Town still hadn’t received proof of insurance, and the new property manager advised them that the lease was up in January 2024 and that the Town should not renew the lease.

The Town was finally able to complete an inspection during the fall. They noted that the home was in very poor condition.

At the time of the inspection, the tenant told the Town they would be leaving on December 21, and the Town instructed them to give them a written notice. The date came and went with nothing from the tenant and it was clear they hadn’t moved out. Rent was not paid for December and all notices, including those left on the doors, went unacknowledged.

When the tenant left the premises on January 8, the Town changed the locks and began the process of cleaning the space up. There was garbage left behind as well as furniture and household items.

The Town hired a cleaner at a cost of $1,638.

Once the space was cleaned out, they were able to assess the damages. The flooring and painting throughout the house needed to be fixed. All of the appliances were broken.

In an attempt to mitigate some of the costs, the property manager reached out to the previous tenant with a bill. After several attempts at communication, the tenant told the current manager that the unit was in bad shape when they first rented it. The tenant says at the time, they fixed what they could, but otherwise lived with the rest.

Given there is no paper trail regarding the damages, the Town will have to go through their insurance.

Strand provided council with a quote of $26,497 to bring the unit up to good condition. That included replacing appliances, repairs, and cleaning costs. The other option was bringing the unit up to a safe state of repair. That estimated cost would be $5,887.

Strand said if the unit was left unrepaired there could be several problems, including loss of income from the property. Other concerns were that the Town would still need to heat the building to prevent further damage from burst pipes. She said there was also a possibility of vandalism or squatters.

Councillors had several questions. Councillor Rick Evans requested that administration come back with at least three quotes for repairs so the Town had options to consider.

Strand said that because of this issue, there were several changes that were being made to the policy. This includes requiring proof of tenant insurance sent in to the property managers twice a year, quarterly inspections for new tenants for the first year and bi-annual inspections after that.

Council decided to table the decision until administration could give them more quotes regarding the cost of repairs.

Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Drayton Valley and District Free Press