Calgary

Residential landlords demand tax relief from Calgary city council

A group of Calgary landlords held a demonstration outside City Hall on Monday to demand relief from their rising property tax bills.

'City hall must assume there’s an unlimited ability for our members to pay these tax hikes'

The Calgary Residential Rental Association conducted a protest at Calgary's City Hall against what it considers an unfair tax burden on residential landlords. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

A group of Calgary landlords held a demonstration outside City Hall on Monday to demand relief from their rising property tax bills.

According to Gerry Baxter, head of the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA), there was an average of 23 per cent in increases over last year — although some were much higher.

"This is a lot higher than the promised 7.5 per cent figure for other residential properties," he said.

Earlier this year, city council voted to approve a technical tax freeze this year. However, it then voted to shift over $200 million in taxes from business property owners to residential accounts.

That resulted in a 12 per cent tax cut for businesses and a 7.5 per cent tax hike for residential properties.

Calgary landlord Victor Didkowsky, whose family operates three rental houses and five small apartment buildings, says the city needs to understand business owners like him are not rich. 

"We carry and pay and service a lot of debt," he said. 

He said that over the past five years, operating costs have risen 100 to 300 per cent at his properties, but revenue since 2014 has dipped 20 per cent.

"It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out, with those numbers, they are not sustainable," he said.

Didkowsky says he is staying in business by dipping into savings.

"Our savings are quickly depleting, and soon will run out," he said.

Baxter says his association is asking for a phased tax regime for multi-residential properties, with a cap at 7.5 per cent, which is comparable to other residential properties.

"City hall must assume there's an unlimited ability for our members to pay these tax hikes. Well, I'm here to tell you that that certainly is not the case," he said.

Baxter predicts there will be a crisis in the housing market before very long as owners run through their savings just to stay in business.

"This is a failure of government, not of Calgary landlords," he said.

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