Neglected Properties & Winnipeg’s Neighbourhood Liveability By- Law
A number of homes in South Winnipeg are owned by absentee landlords who, unfortunately, are not performing regular, required maintenance on their properties. Through its Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law, the City of Winnipeg regulates the maintenance of homes/yards and other aspects of neighbourhood liveability.
The City has the legal ability to ENFORCE compliance on these neglected properties when home owners are not complying with the regulations. Below are some of the common issues regulated by the Neighbourhood Liveability By-Law:
- Long grass: Must be trimmed to a max. length of 15 cm (six inches); homeowners are required to cut the boulevard around the house and any grass and/or weeds that might be in the back lane
- Garbage: Must not accumulate on property; garbage that is eligible for removal must be stored in receptacles or plastic garbage bags that are protected from damage.
- Exterior walls: Paint must be maintained so that no more than 25 per cent of any painted surface is blistered, cracked, flaked scaled or chalked away.
- Gutters: All gutters need to have downspouts that take water away from the building and do not allow eroding of the ground under them
REPORT PROBLEMS TO WINNIPEG’S 311 SERVICE CENTRE
Like most cities, Winnipeg’s system for action is currently ‘complaint based’ which means that you MUST call or email 311 to report the problem.
I cannot stress the importance of reporting a problem – this is the only way the City can provide service in responding to the problem. In my opinion, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than phoning 311, is a more efficient use of your time. E-Mailing 311 also provides you with a record of the request and a tracking number for future reference.
FORT RICHMOND-UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSOCIATION
Before you contact 311, I recommend that you review the helpful tips on the Fort Richmond-University Heights Neighbourhood Association’s website. This Association was formed in 2016 when community members stepped forward as volunteers to work towards educating and informing residents, tenants and landlords of their RESPONSIBILITES and RIGHTS in the neighbourhood.
Their website provides many helpful resources, i.e.
- How to report the most common by-law infractions: http://www.neighbourhoodassociation.ca/residents/reporting-bylaw-infractions/
- Information flyers which you can leave anonymously in your neighbour’s mailbox: http://www.neighbourhoodassociation.ca/residents/informing-educating-tenants-students/
RESPONSE FROM CITY OF WINNIPEG
Using the common complaint of long grass on a neighbour’s property, here is the framework for the City’s response after a long grass complaint is reported to 311:
- City responds within 2-3 days of the initial complaint and issues an order to the non-compliant homeowner to mow lawn. The notice is considered legally served after 3 days, whether the City has spoken directly with the homeowner or not.
- City allows time for homeowner to comply (approx. 7 days)
- By-Law Enforcement Officer inspects site to see if homeowner has complied
- If there has been a failure to mow, the By-Law Enforcement officer refers the request to Public Works Department
- Public Works Department puts the service request into their operating system, and mows the property (within 3-7 days)
- The City charges the homeowner a combined penalty/service fee of $200-250, based on the size of yard
As outlined above, this entire process takes time. While not as prompt as most would like, it places the cost of the service on the non-compliant homeowner.
It is important to note that not all complaints are easily rectified. Some homeowners may choose to appeal a complaint, and the matter may go to Provincial Court to be dealt with (ie: is the property a rental? Is someone living in the home?). If the matter ends up in legal proceedings, the By-Law Enforcement Officer must be able to provide clear evidence of the action taken by the City as well as the notifications provided by the homeowner.
During spring and summer, there are many requests on these types of issues from residents across Winnipeg. The By-Law Enforcement Officers work closely with the Public Works Department to resolve concerns as soon as they can.
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