When Merritt’s Bylaw Services Officer Bob Davis wanted a representation of the severity of the city’s ramshackle properties, he knew exactly where to go.

An empty lot, an abandoned home, and negligent tenants have a stranglehold on the intersection of Coldwater Avenue and Garcia Street. The properties are boarded-up and visited by drunks, eaten away by weeds and tall grass or strewn with pungent garbage tossed throughout the yard.

“It’s disgusting,” Davis said stepping over a pile of used diapers on Thursday, as a smell emitted from 2073 Coldwater Ave. “I need to call in the health inspector for this to see if I can even get a crew in here to clean this mess up.”

On May 1, after receiving several complaints from residents about an unsightly property, Davis mailed a letter to the home, only to have it returned to his office.

Now, after posting two notices on the house’s door, Davis said he is on the verge of sending a cleaning crew.

But the property is just one of a gamut of dilapidated residences riddling the town, and according to at least one homeowner, it’s driving the value of his property down.

Roger Ahuja, who lives across the alley from the Coldwater Avenue property, said the vast majority of his neighbours maintain their residences, but one or two neglected homes on a block can lower home values for everyone.

“I expect all my neighbours to maintain their property,” he said. “I do my part to make sure my house is clean.”

He said the smelly property attracts a disorderly crowd.

A group of five people were sitting beside a truck piled with garbage immediately beside the Coldwater property, two of them clearly intoxicated.

Within five minutes of Davis phoning, the police arrived and arrested at least two of the loiterers.

“This is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about,” Davis said. “Right when I was saying these properties attract a disorderly crowd, I turn the corner and there they are.”

If negligent property owners don’t clean up their residences in a reasonable amount of time, the City of Merritt will hire a crew and earmark the bill to the homeowner’s property taxes.

Davis said he’d like a quicker way to order property cleanup, to address the issue throughout Merritt.

“I’d like this to get to the point where people have a week or so to get their property in order,” he said. “That way it won’t take as much time to address all the properties.”

He said he will likely recommend a bylaw amendment to city council that provides for quicker enforcement.

He said the Coldwater property could cost approximately $700 or $800 to clean up.