Property tax cut benefits landlords, says NDP leader

The leader of the NDP says landlords in New Brunswick appear to be backing away from a promise on lower rents.

New Democratic Party Leader Dominic Cardy says landlords in New Brunswick appear to be backing away from a promise on lower rents.

Last week, the provincial government announced it is cutting property taxes for the owners of apartment buildings, but won't force them to pass the savings to tenants.

The NDP leader said the landlords should stand by what they said.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy says landlords could stand behind a promise on lower rents. (CBC)

"I think they need to go back to look at the statements they made a few months ago," Cardy said.

"I think they need to be held to account, and the government does as well, because they said the purpose of this was to help renters, and instead it's going to help just the landlords, and that's not fair."

The provincial budget in March promised a gradual reduction in property taxes.

Election promise

Back then, Willy Scholten of the New Brunswick Apartment Owners Association predicted the provincial government would force landlords to pass on the savings.

"I would see the government not giving up the revenue without some sort of legislation to make sure that it does happen, and we would support that," Scholten said at the time.

Last week, Scholten no longer supported provincial government enforcement of lower rental fees.

"We're private business, and we believe that the markets should dictate that, so we wouldn't agree with that," he said.

Scholten said he would support enforcement if the tenant tax were eliminated altogether, but that's not happening.

He said with other costs rising, the gradual tax reduction isn't enough for landlords to even freeze rents.

The 2010 Progressive Conservative election platform promised that an "easing" of the tenant tax would "benefit those living in apartments."

It now appears that promise will only be kept by landlords who choose to honour it.