‘Landlords beware’ warns Sylvan Lake woman whose home was wrecked by former tenants

Wendy Sauvageau. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
Wendy Sauvageau demonstrates how a new window in her rental unit will no longer close and needs to be replaced. The former tenants used duct tape to keep it closed. Photos by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
The newly installed carpet is dirty and riddled with garbage, and Sauvageau points out the wiring has been bent and pulled away from the wall.
Many items were left in the kitchen, including a kitchen table and food items. The drawers had been pulled out and left in the middle of the room and the hardware on the drawers were all bent or pulled off.
Pieces of the panelling on the walls has been pulled and chipped off. Sauvageau says it looks like it was chewed on.
In the bathroom, the face of a drawer was pulled off and garbage and other debris was strewn about the floor and counters.

Landlords beware. That is the message Wendy Sauvageau is spreading after her rental home was trashed by tenants.

Sauvageau has been renting a small cottage for the last four years, and said until her last tenants she has had a good experience.

The trouble began just after Christmas with missed rent payments and finding out more people were living in the house than what was on the lease.

After months of difficulty, Sauvageau said she had enough and evicted the tenants. When she went to inspect the house at noon the day they were to leave, she said she was shocked by what she found.

“I have never seen such filth in my life. I could not believe the wanton damage,” she said.

The tenants left a garage full of chemicals and paint, bags of clothing and shoes were left throughout the house. Heavy furniture like a sofa and table were also left behind.

The hardwood floors in the living room were “shot to hell,” cabinets were damaged, the ceiling was scratched and bits of the paneling on the walls had been pulled off.

Sauvageau says a window, which was new when the tenants moved in, will have to be replaced as it no longer closes and locks. She will also need to repair or replace the fireplace in the living room because of damages.

“Your jaw just drops when you see it… The damage done, it wasn’t something that was done over night,” Sauvageau said.

“The one that really hurts is the floors. They were beautiful hardwood floors that we had redone and they are just a mess.”

The task of fixing up the small cabin home is no small feat, and one Sauvageau says she is unable to do herself.

She is on the waiting list for shoulder surgery, which makes moving and repairing the home difficult.

“The damage deposit won’t cover what was done. It’ll cost us at least $1,500 just to have everything left taken out,” she said.

The additional costs will also cut into her budget for everyday life. For instance, Sauvageau has been saving for a new truck, but will have to put the money into fixing up the house instead.

“Walking through you just think there goes my new deck, my new washing machine, a vacuum, the track has to wait.

“I was I the grocery story and I put back five things that I normally wouldn’t think about. I’m not wealthy, but I have never had to do that.”

After four years of renting the home out, Sauvageau says she is unsure if would do it again.

If she does, she says she will do things a little differently, and recognize the warning signs from day one.

“I will not have this happen again.”

In speaking with the police about the incident, and with Alberta Landlord and Tenant, she found the damages done to the home is considered vandalism and is an increasing problem for landlords.

To other landlords going through similar problems, Sauvageau says to not blame yourself.

“It hurts your pride and your self esteem… I just can’t believe someone would do something like this to another who tried to work with them, to give them a place to live.”

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