An Edmonton landlord is cleaning up a nasty mess her tenant left behind.
Last week, Selina Murphy evicted a single mother of four from her northeast Edmonton townhouse and what she discovered inside her three-bedroom rental made her gag.
“I was seriously going to vomit,” Murphy said. “So gross.
“I estimate there’s probably $8,000 to $10,000 damage in here.”
Murphy was alerted the rental’s condition last month by an electrician she hired to do repairs in the unit. He told her the front door had been “booted in” and that it took 10 minutes to open the door.
The eviction notice was delivered that same day but Murphy said she told the young mother she could still stay if the damage was fixed.
“I didn’t think she was doing this to this unit and she’s a single mom with four kids. There’s my weakness. You can’t give anyone a break because they don’t appreciate it.”
Murphy did a walk-through with Global News. The damage was shocking.
The casing on the front door was shredded and there were multiple holes in the walls. That wasn’t the worst of it.
Cigarette butts were littered throughout (it was a non-smoking unit) and drug paraphernalia was left behind. Not to mention the piles of dishes, clothes and children’s toys.
But what rattled Murphy the most was the sheer filth.
“There’s cat poo throughout this place on the wall. Is it cat poo on the wall or baby poo?” she asked.
“There’s poo on the walls, poo on the carpet, everywhere.”
Pets were also not allowed.
Then there was the toilet in the upstairs bathroom.
“Even though it didn’t flush they were still using it.”
Murphy said the tenant moved in in October 2016. This past spring, the landlord went to the suite to check the furnace filter, and while the cleanliness wasn’t up to her standards, Murphy said it was nothing like the disaster left behind.
“There has to be protection for the landlords. I’m stuck with this place now, it’s my investment.”
Taking tenants to court is costly and time-consuming and even if she won, Murphy doesn’t think she’d see a dime.
The province is urging landlords like Murphy to file a complaint with the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS).
The cost to file a complaint with the board is $75 and the fee could be reduced or waived.
“You end up with the same results with a faster, more efficient and affordable mechanism,” said Service Alberta Minister Stephanie McLean.
“Certainly one of the orders that they can make is to require a tenant to pay for damage that they’ve done.”
The province does not track how many cases have ruled in favour of landlords but said the majority of the 7,700 cases filed in 2017-2018 had resulted in an order.
This isn’t the first time Murphy said she had been stuck with a costly repair bill. The prior tenant flooded the bathroom, so it was gutted and everything was new inside. Before that, a different renter left behind bedbugs.
To say Murphy is gunshy about renting out her unit again is an understatement, but the property owner said she has no choice. Other units in her building aren’t selling.
McLean, a former lawyer, points out there are court orders that could seize future assets. The minister also called on landlords to get insurance and at the very least, to file a complaint so problem tenants can be tracked.
“It means they might be able to protect another landlord,” McLean said.
“I have no clue where she’s at,” Murphy said. “I just know that she has left mass destruction.”