The owner of a house that sits next to a Brocklehurst home damaged in a fire last year says the residence remains in a state of disrepair and has become a costly hazard, leaving her frustrated with the City of Kamloops’ process for dealing with unsightly properties.
Shannon Moore said the damaged house next door is not just an eyesore. It has attracted rats which have damaged her property, and she is concerned about the possibility of homeless people taking up residence.
“I just want answers and I just want my tenants to feel safe and secure and not have to worry about what's going to happen next door in this abandoned house. And I don’t want to incur any more damages,” Moore said.
“Because they [the next door neighbours] walked out the day of the fire — and never has anybody ever walked back in.”
HOUSE DAMAGED BY FIRE
The fire was on Oct. 23 at 561 Desmond St., causing damage to the back of the residence.
Soon after, Moore’s tenants reported cracks in their windows adjacent to where the fire happened. At that point, Moore said she tried to get in touch with the neighbouring property owner for liability insurance purposes, but didn’t receive a response.
Moore said she called the City of Kamloops community services division in April to report the property, which was looking increasingly unkept. She was told community services officers had visited the residence, and they would contact the property owner.
Two weeks after that, Moore said her rental property incurred water damage after a rat got into the house and chewed through a pipe, causing water to soak through floorboards and walls.
RESIDENTS OUT, RATS IN
A pest control company advised Moore that rotting food in the next door property, which had been without power since the fire, was likely attracting the rodents.
“Now, because no one will come in and do anything, there’s rotten food in the house and now I'm incurring damage — thousands of dollars worth of damage — because nobody will come and do anything about that house,” Moore said.
“It's now becoming more frustrating because my pocketbook is open, like I’m having to pay to get the pipes replaced and the drywall torn out and then put back in again. So it gets really frustrating, because I don't see an end to it.”
She said a caddy also recently turned up on the next-door property, which, upon closer inspection, contained a fireplace poker, a sledgehammer, pliers and binoculars, among other items. Her tenants reported some of the plywood on the damaged home appeared to have been moved, leading them to believe someone had been inside.
'LOOKING FOR THE CITY TO STEP IN'
Moore said she has reached out to CSOs multiple times since April, who advised they would reach out to the owner to tell them about the rats and the suspected break-in. But she still hasn’t seen any changes made to the house next door.
“I'm looking for the city to step in and do something before something does happen," she said.
"Because sooner or later it's going to — whether it’s another fire, or homeless people, or who knows.”
Will Beatty, acting community services manager for the city, confirmed CSOs received a call for service about an unsightly premise at that address, and the file remains open.
He said officers deal with bylaw infractions “from a space to gain voluntary compliance.”
“That is the route that is being explored with all people involved in this file,” Beatty said.
Beatty said officers are empowered to “have as much discretion as possible” when dealing with a property owner. He said there are several factors, including people’s financial circumstances, which are considered in a CSO’s assessment.
“As long as you're working towards getting that unsightly act itself dealt with,” Beatty said.
“We're looking to do is obviously get them in that sightly condition, but if they aren't, then we go down the path of potentially designating them under that 6.3 designation for the Good Neighbour Bylaw.”
COULD IT BE A NUISANCE PROPERTY?
According to the City of Kamloops, a 6.3 notice is issued when a number of nuisance service calls to one property happens more than once in a 24 hour period, or more than three times in a 12-month period.
Beatty said neighbours who see an unsightly property continue to degrade should call bylaws and report it so the file can be updated. He said it’s difficult to issue property owners with a 6.3 notice if there haven’t been calls for service.
Moore said she is just disappointed the next door property remains in its state of disrepair.
“I'm trying to be a diligent landlord and do everything I can, but I mean, at what point does everyone just throw their hands in the air and say, ’It's not going to do any good anyways,’ which is really sad,” Moore said.
“We have a huge investment in that property and there's nothing I can do to try and protect it any further.”
Castanet Kamloops has reached out through social media to an individual who appears to be the property owner of 561 Desmond St., but has not received a reply.