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Finance Minister Blaine Higgs announced a gradual reduction on provincial property tax rate on apartments, income properties and cottages Tuesday. (Daniel McHardie/CBC)

Tenants in New Brunswick should be seeing a three-year freeze on rents starting next year, the finance minister announced during the provincial budget speech Tuesday.

In New Brunswick, homeowners pay a municipal tax on the building in which they live, but if the building they own is a rental property, a provincial tax is also applied.

In effect, the owner is taxed twice on his or her property, so most landlords add the extra payment onto the rents they charge.

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs said Tuesday the Alward government is "delivering on a platform commitment to make the property tax system fairer and more effective for the long-term."

Landlords have been fighting what they call double-taxation since 2005 and the group representing apartment owners said it’s positive news for renters.

Willy Scholten, of the New Brunswick Apartment Owners Association, said his group has been talking to the government about how to get that money back to the tenants.

"Instead of having the annual increases that tenants are seeing because of costs continuing to go up, the tenants would see three years of a rent freeze. So, in effect, at the end of the day, the tenant would have that back in their pocket," he said.

Scholten said he expects the province will enforce that rent freeze.

"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."

With that legislation, any tenant whose rent is increased over the next three years could appeal to the provincial rentalsman, Scholten said.