'They don’t care': Pleasant Hill resident wants landlords to pay attention to problem properties
As the City of Saskatoon ponders the idea of penalizing landlords for boarded up properties and problem tenants, some residents in the city’s Pleasant Hill neighbourhood say they support stricter bylaws.
"Ninety-nine per cent of the houses in this area are fine but it’s just that one rental house that’s killing it," said Josh Davidson.
He has lived on Avenue K South for six years and in those six years he recalls a stretch where police descended on the rental once or twice a week.
Whether it’s a drug bust or a weapons call, flashing police lights quickly became the norm up until a few months ago when the last tenants were booted out, and the windows and doors were boarded up.
"It actually looks better boarded up because prior to that the windows were all smashed up," Davidson said.
On Monday the city’s planning and development committee asked administration to explore a licensing program for rental properties which includes provisions to regulate nuisance calls for emergency services.
The request comes on the heels of a scathing letter to city hall penned by the Pleasant Hill Community Association. In the letter the community association calls for action to combat boarded up homes and frustration over issues like drugs, crime, inadequate housing and gang activity in the area.
The association also alleges landlords are not being held accountable for homes and buildings that are boarded up and unsafe. Residents say people are removing boards and going into the homes to live after the homes have been condemned.
Ward 2 Councillor Hilary Gough said she hopes a city report expected later this year will explore best practices in other jurisdictions to improve the overall condition of rental and vacant properties. According to the City of Saskatoon, the fire department works with city crews to monitor boarded up and abandoned properties through a complaint-driven process. The city is also exploring options to penalize absentee landlords when they allow properties to deteriorate.
Right now, Davidson said one problem tenant moves out, and another one moves in.
"They don’t care they collect the check from housing or whoever is paying for those people to live there and everything just goes by the way," he said.
"It would be nice to see the landlords have to pay attention to what’s going on in their properties. I understand not everyone can live beside the rental property they own but someone has to."
He said he believes stiffer penalties may help curb the problems the neighbourhood is facing.
"It would smarten me up for sure. I want people to enjoy living beside me, I don’t want them to dread or look over and say 'oh god that’s a rental next door.'"