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Structural concerns at northeast Edmonton apartment building force tenants to evacuate

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Structural concerns at northeast Edmonton apartment building force tenant to evacuate
Some of the residents of the Sandlewood Place apartment building in northeast Edmonton say they are concerned for their safety after cracks appeared on their walls and some were told they need to leave. Sarah Reid reports. – Sep 29, 2022

Some of the residents of a northeast Edmonton apartment building say they are concerned for their safety after cracks appeared on their walls and some were told they need to leave.

Resident Tenaya, whose last name Global News is withholding because she fears repercussions for speaking out, says she originally raised concerns about the structural safety of the building last week.

She was then sent a letter on Thursday saying she had to be out of her apartment within one day or she would be charged for removal.

Tenaya has lived for two months at Sandlewood Place, a four-story walk-up with 50 units at the corner of 129 Avenue and 65 Street in the Belvedere neighbourhood.

She told Global News she had some concerns about the state her unit when she moved in, but it didn’t seem like too big of a deal.

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Cracks in the ceiling of a unit at Sandlewood Place apartment building (6504 129 Ave) in northeast Edmonton. Supplied

Those concerns ramped up while moving furniture last week, when she said the cracks had gotten bigger.

She started taking photos of the cracks, and reached out to property management company Braden Equities. Tenaya said an employee came to see the damage this past Sunday.

“We took her through the apartment and she had just said, ‘Oh, well, you know, the building is just settling. Like, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.'”

Cracks in the ceiling of a unit at Sandlewood Place apartment building (6504 129 Ave) in northeast Edmonton. Supplied

On Thursday, Tenaya said she received a letter from the property management company saying her the unit is no longer safe to live in and her tenancy was being terminated as of Friday, which is the end of the month.

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“In lieu of the fire department inspection report and structural engineer’s recommendation on Sept. 28, 2022, your unit was deemed unsafe for occupancy and must be vacated immediately due to structural concerns,” said the letter from Braden Equities dated Sept. 29, which was shared with Global News.

The letter said the company previously offered to transfer the tenant to another unit but all have since been rented to other people.

“In this regard, please arrange with your resident manager a time to fully vacate the premises and give possession of your unit by Sep. 30, 2022. Due to the required immediate evacuation, no lease break charges will be charged and a full deposit will be returned to you. As you are not permitted to reside in the suite, any belongings left behind will be removed at your expense to ensure the unit is vacant. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.”

On Thursday, the tenant who lived above Tenaya returned home to find the same memo. She asked Global News to keep her identity private, as she is concerned about repercussions from her now-former landlord.

She said after hearing about the concerns in Tenaya’s unit, she no longer felt safe so she packed up her family and moved into her in-laws apartment.

“We checked everything and found a lot of cracks [in our unit] and became really worried.”
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Two days after moving out, she said she returned to the unit to find the termination of tenancy note from Braden Equities informing her family they had to be out by Friday.

“I was like ‘What! How can we do that?’ It’s not possible.”

She said she is disappointed the property management company is not providing more assistance or compensation for short-term housing.

When she contacted the company requesting more time to move out, she said they told her they required a written request.

Global News called Braden Equities and requested a response on Thursday. On Friday, the property management company called Global News back and said they had just taken over managing the building earlier this year in June.

The company said initial assessments have highlighted concerns with only two units: one on the ground floor, and the one above it.

Braden Equities added it is waiting on an engineering report before making any necessary repairs to the building.

Tenaya said she isn’t thrilled to have to move again but can’t stay at Sandlewood Place, even if a unit was available.

Cracks in the ceiling of a unit at Sandlewood Place apartment building (6504 129 Ave) in northeast Edmonton. Supplied

Global News reached out the City of Edmonton, who said they were looking into what information about the building was gathered but might not be able to provide anything until Monday.

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Edmonton Fire Rescue Services confirmed to Global News that they responded to a call at the apartment building Wednesday, when a resident reported a possible structure issue.

“The scene was determined not to be a fire call and the property manager was notified to deal with the issue,” EFRS said.

Global News spoke to some other residents of the building.

One said they were told to leave on Wednesday and would hear in a day or two whether they could return, but as of Thursday afternoon still had not heard back.

Cracks on an exterior wall at Sandlewood Place apartment building (6504 129 Ave) in northeast Edmonton. Supplied

Bree Ebens just moved into the building a month ago.

“There were some cracks in the ceiling and the floor is caving in, in some places,” she said, adding she brought it up with the property manager. “I did mention it, but they said, like, ‘It’s fine. Like not to worry about it. It’s fine.'”

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She is not pleased to hear about the issues her neighbour experienced.

“I don’t want it to all of a sudden to collapse on me or like a major crack to happen or anything.”

Tenaya said she is frustrated with how communication has gone since she escalated her concerns about new cracks appearing.

“I’ve reached out politely. I’ve reached out firmly. And I have reached out in tears. I am concerned for my safety,” Tenaya said.

“The fact that it could be so severe and just so large like overnight is insane. I did not know that could even happen.”

Cracks in the ceiling of a unit at Sandlewood Place apartment building (6504 129 Ave) in northeast Edmonton. Supplied

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