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Bedbugs, cockroaches and feces: Edmonton apartments ‘unfit for human habitation’

Click to play video: 'Owner of a downtown Edmonton apartment building ordered to clean up infested suites' Owner of a downtown Edmonton apartment building ordered to clean up infested suites
WATCH ABOVE: The owners and managers of a downtown apartment building have been ordered to clean up suites infested with bedbugs. The building manager says he's doing all he can -- and others need to step up so tenants don't end up on the street. Kendra Slugoski reports – Aug 21, 2016

Six suites in a downtown Edmonton apartment building have been deemed unfit for human habitation.

According to a recent inspection by Alberta Health Services, the suites in the MacDonald Lofts across from Rogers Place had evidence of “extensive cockroach and bedbug infestations.”

Dave Martyshuk, of Martyshuk Housing, manages the building and said two of the units had people living in them. Both units had a long list of disturbing public health violations.

In one unit, investigators found an accumulation of feces and toilet paper next to the toilet.

In the other unit, urine and feces were also found on the floor, along with an unsanitary mattress which was “heavily infested with bedbugs and it appeared to have bodily fluids on it.”

The units are rented to people considered hard-to-house.

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“We’re spinning our wheels on this ice half the time,” Martyshuk said.

“We threaten eviction, but where are they going to go? Usually this is one of the last stops for them.”

 

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Cockroach trap in vacated suite. August 18, 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
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MacDonald Loft suite ordered unfit for human habitation. Cockroach and bedbug infestations were found by inspectors. August 18, 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News
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1 of 6 suites unfit for human habitation at MacDonald Lofts downtown. August 18. 2016. Kendra Slugoski, Global News

AHS said the tenants have until the end of the month to move out, and it is working with social agencies to find them alternative housing.

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Along with pest control, minor maintenance and repairs must also be completed.

Deficiencies in multiple units include slow-draining sinks, loose electrical outlets and non-working smoke alarms.

“In this case, building owners have not adequately addressed health concerns, and have not maintained an adequate premises for tenants,” said AHS spokesperson Kerry Williamson.

The closure and repair order will remain in place until the units are deemed safe.

Martyshuk said some tenants refuse to take care of their apartments and haven’t complied during fumigation.

“We don’t have full care and control over the unit,” he said. “If we put a notice on their door saying we’re fumigating in two days and they’re not prepared for it we just move on to the next unit.”

Martyshuk Housing is a private, for-profit company. Earlier this month it told Global News it lost money after taking over the MacDonald Lofts five years ago. Rents in the building are currently capped, and were set to go up by hundreds of dollars on Nov. 1, 2016, when the cap expires.

READ MORE: Tenants will not become homeless after $263 rent hike: Edmonton building manager 

However, on Friday, the manager of the building sent a letter to tenants saying he has been instructed to rescind the rent increase notice issued earlier this month.

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READ MORE: Downtown Edmonton building manager backtracks on $263 rent hike

Alberta Seniors and Housing said it provides funding for special needs housing which includes housing for those with addictions and mental health issues.

Basic life skills programs are also provided to youth in Alberta care.

Martyshuk said the provincial government does provide homecare, but he said many of his tenants still do not get enough support.

“We’re landlords, I’m not a social worker, I’m not an addictions counsellor. I can keep them housed but I can’t fix the problems.”

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