Housing not meeting legislative standards has been a top priority of the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Unit since its inception as it is today. In concert with the creation of the Bylaw Unit under the auspices of the Police Service, was the creation of the Housing Standards Enforcement Team.
When negative social, psychological, and environmental factors converge, a housing environment emerges that fosters significant social disorder and crime. Many houses become focal points of criminal activity, drug abuse and trafficking, gang activity, and prostitution, to which police and other service responders respond repeatedly.
Ensuring adequate, stable housing through an integrated, coordinated approach has proven significant in reducing crime and enhancing quality of life and safety for individuals and our community.
The Housing Standards Enforcement Team is comprised of:
- Police - regular members of the service providing for safety, procedure/resources.
- Bylaw - Special Constables - overall file management.
- Building Inspectors - Inspection relevant to Maintenance and Occupancy, Bylaw, No. 17 of 2007.
- Fire Inspectors - Inspection relevant to the Fire Code.
- Health Inspectors - Inspection relevant to The Public Health Act.
- Resources to the Inspection Team - Safer Communities Investigation Unit, Social Services
Note: For more information on the Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Investigation Unit, (SCAN), go to: http://www.cpsp.gov.sk.ca/SCAN
Through the integrated approach, the Team now inspects a premise with an assortment of regulatory legislation in addition to City Bylaws, such as:
- The Public Health Act
- The Cities Act
- The Uniform Building and Accessibility Standards Act
- The National Building Code
- The National Fire Code
- The Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Act
Housing in neighborhoods suspected of being focal points for Drugs, Prostitution, Gang activity, Child Exploitation, the fortification of buildings causing public safety concerns, or the unlawful sale and use of beverage alcohol are within the domain of the Safer Communities and Neighborhoods Investigation Unit. Often, Housing of municipal concern has a commonality with this unlawful activity and the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Unit has evolved as the pivotal liaise between the Safer Communities Investigation Unit and the Police Service. Housing units, whether rented or owner occupied, identified by the Safer Communities Investigation Unit as focal points of criminal activity are subject to 90 day Community Safety Orders and the immediate eviction of residents there in.
The Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Unit, in concert with the City's Building Inspectors, facilitates inspections and Orders relevant to Bylaw No. 17 of 2007, The Maintenance and Occupancy Bylaw. Dependant on the nature and scope of contraventions respecting the subject property will determine the level of response relative to inspection - broader issues will draw the response of the Housing Standards Enforcement Team, which in many instances, will lead to multiple Orders from the respective agencies.
Subject properties inspected by the Bylaw Enforcement Unit and the Housing Standards Enforcement Team come from a variety of sources. Many are from tenants that are unhappy with the conditions of their rental units and are not getting any satisfaction from their landlords. Often unsightly properties that are subject to inspection under the Property Amenities Bylaw, lead to issues of Maintenance and Occupancy with the dwelling unit itself. The Police through their day to day response to calls will pass on housing issues to the Bylaw Unit, as will a variety of service providers, and the general public. Houses within neighborhoods that are of concern to area residents as focal points of crime will also activate both the interests of the Housing Standards Enforcement Team as well as the Safer Communities Investigation Unit. Often where this type of activity is being carried out there are collateral issues relative to Maintenance and Occupancy, Fire, and Health.
Landlords are legally responsible for keeping their rental properties safe and sound. Whether you have decided to rent a home, apartment or any other type of dwelling unit, or are already renting, you are entitled to live in a safe and sound environment. This is a legal right. The City of Prince Albert Maintenance and Occupancy Bylaw states that all properties must meet certain standards. Every part of a building or property shall be kept in a well-maintained, structurally sound condition. These standards apply to the inside and outside of a house, apartment or any other type of dwelling unit. Blistering paint, broken or cracked windows, collapsing steps, missing or damaged eave troughs, collapsing basements, faulty furnaces, broken plumbing ... these are a few examples of things that renters don't have to live with. In the event you've reported deficiencies to your landlord and your landlord is not maintaining your unit, you can report it through the police non-emergency line @ 953-4222 and Bylaw Officers will arrange for a site inspection with City Building Inspectors. You have the right to provide access to the dwelling unit to Bylaw Enforcement and Building Inspectors. You do not need the permission of the landlord.
This is what happens when you call to report a problem :
- After a complaint is received about a dwelling unit that may be substandard, Bylaw Enforcement Officers will investigate to determine the nature and scope of contraventions and arrange for a site inspection engaging Building Inspectors or the entire Housing Standards Enforcement Team.
- Following the site inspection, contraventions identified will be articulated in the form of an Order, "Notice of Non-compliance" with the appropriate "Corrections Required" which in most cases is served on the property owner via registered mail, served personally, or some circumstances posted on the property itself. The Order will specify a specific date to complete the necessary repairs. The amount of time given in the Order to do the repairs will vary depending on the number and types of repairs and the time of year in which the repairs are to be completed.
In many cases, dependant on the severity of the dwelling unit's condition, companion Orders will be issued from Health and/or Fire and are incorporated into the investigational file of the Bylaw Officer. In many cases, these Orders will have similar dates for completion of the required corrections.
Inspections revealing severe issues relative to health provisions, such as severe lack of repair, filth, or lack of plumbing can lead to a Plac-card Order as "Unfit for Human Occupation" and the immediate removal of tenants.
- Property owners receiving Orders issued relative to Municipal Bylaw have the opportunity to appeal the Order within 15 days of the date of the Order. The appeal is to City Council or the appeal board as may be appointed by Council. Council may confirm, modify or repeal the Order. There is separate appeal process for Orders issued pursuant to The Public Health Act.
- Upon re-inspection, if repairs are not completed within the time frame as specified in the Order(s), dependant on the circumstances, and provided the owner is working cooperatively and progressively at completing the repairs, further time may be extended at the discretion of the Building, Health, or Fire Inspectors. In most cases, compliance is met and the file is closed upon Inspectors of the relative Orders signing off on the corrections required. Where it is clear little or no effort is being undertaken to correct the contraventions, the file will be moved forward to prosecution by the investigating Bylaw Officer.
In extreme cases, where the required repairs exceed the value of the property, (dependant on the circumstances), the property owner may choose demolition; the City may issue an additional Order for demolition; or the City may put the property to Work Order and tender out the demolition with the costs added to tax roll.
- Should prosecution proceedings result in a Court Order, the investigating Bylaw Officer will arrange for a re-inspection with the relative inspectors to ensure compliance. Property owners convicted of offences under the Maintenance and Occupancy Bylaw may face fines as high as $10,000.00 for individuals, and $25,000.00 in the case of a corporation. In cases of continuing offences, fines as high as $2,500.00 for each day during which the offence continues.
The following Flow Chart tracks the process
Further information about housing inspections may be obtained by calling the Municipal Bylaw Enforcement Unit office at 953-4906.