Fine-tuning compliance for problem properties

November 9, 2020

Four properties have been targeted by the Property Standards Compliance Team since its initiation this summer. The team brings together City of Kelowna Bylaw, Building Services, Planning and Development, Kelowna Fire Department, RCMP and other agencies to address potentially unsafe or illegal properties.

“Problem properties are quite tricky and challenging to resolve within the complex and sometimes limited legal framework that enforcement agencies operate,” said Ken Hunter, Bylaw Services Supervisor. “When enforcement agencies coordinate and focus their efforts, their impact increases considerably.”

The property owner of a house first targeted by the team in August was issued tickets totaling more than $2,500 and is now vacant. Subsequently, the team attended two additional houses in Rutland, one of which is now vacant as well.

“Neighbours and residents often focus on the crime and safety elements of problem properties in complaints, but regulatory authorities like the Public Health Act, BC Fire Code and Building Code, and the Community Charter can be just as effective in addressing violations,” said Terry Kowal, Building Inspection and Licensing Manager.

Using an integrated approach, the Property Standards Compliance Team ensures property owners are aware of – and compliant with – municipal, provincial and federal legislation to address the City’s most detrimental properties. A specific criteria, which typically includes a history of non-compliance from traditional attempts by any single department or agency to make changes or improvements, helps determine which properties require the Team’s attention.

“Coordination is necessary to improve the situation, but it may still be insufficient to resolve the problems being experienced by neighbours entirely and certainly not overnight; much as we would wish that to be true,” said Hunter. “Part of the model for the new coordinated team is sustained attention by the coordinated enforcement agencies, and that’s what is beginning to show results.”

While Bylaw, RCMP and other agencies have always collaborated on property complaints, this Team approach puts the onus on the property owner to address the concerns, rather than focusing on the tenants who might be the source of complaints. The fines and orders from the team motivate the property owner to take action.

Residents with concerns about problem properties can make a complaint using the online service request system to generate a documented, trackable file. Visit kelowna.ca/bylawservices for more information.