Some Haligonians aren't happy with the white paint that was added to the old Morses Tea building in the fall. (CBC)

The owner of the Morse's Tea building broke Nova Scotia's Heritage Property Act when he painted over the site's "landmark" lettering in the fall, according to a Halifax city council report filed on Friday.

The Morse's Tea building, sandwiched between Hollis and Upper Water streets, has long had the words 'Morse's Tea' painted along the top of it in bold white and black paint.

But in October, the owner of the Morse's Tea building, Starfish Properties Limited, painted over two large signs. At the time owner Louis Reznick told CBC News the lettering was painted over as part of restoration work.

In a report released Friday, Halifax Regional Municipality staff says it considers the paint a "substantial alteration to the building."

The Heritage Property Act says "substantial alterations" to heritage properties require the approval of council.

The report says Starfish did not seek that approval and disagrees that the painting is a substantial change.

Once the investigation is complete, the report says the city could lay charges up to $250,000 under act.

The report notes that the building "is considered by many to be a landmark."

According to the building's description on the Nova Scotia Historic Places Initiative website, the building was built in 1841 to serve as a warehouse for several downtown businesses.