How Montreal's tax increase could affect you, even if you don't own property

Renters aren't immune to the tax increase announced by the Plante administration last week. That's because landlords are allowed to pass on the cost of that tax increase to their renters.

Average property tax bill for Montreal homeowners going up 3.3%, renters may feel pinch too

The asking price for a two-bedroom unit in this multiplex in the Plateau is $319,000. (centris.ca)

Renters aren't immune to the tax increase announced by the Plante administration last week.

That's because landlords are allowed to pass on the cost of that tax increase to their renters.

Hans Brouillette, spokesperson for CORPIQ, the provincial landlords' association, said that while a formal survey hasn't been conducted, from what they are hearing landlords are planning to do just that.

The average property tax bill for Montreal homeowners is going up by 3.3 per cent. In the Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie borough, residential taxes are increasing 5.6 per cent, and in Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension, 5.4 per cent.

Landlords have until March 31 to inform tenants about any increases for 12-month leases that begin July 1. In the coming weeks, they will send out the lease renewal letters and the hike will be outlined in those letters.

Brouillette said it makes sense that renters pay the tax increase.

"Citizens — no matter if they're tenants or landlords — the citizens of Montreal are those who benefit," he said.

"Public services, streets, roads, water supply, activities. So everyone has to pay."

But while landlords have a right to increase the rent, tenants have the right to refuse the increase.

And if an agreement can't be reached, renters can even take their case to the Régie du logement.

Doing the math

The good news is that renters can calculate how much of their rent increase is due to property taxes with publicly available numbers.

Information on a building's value and the percentage increase in taxes are public information, Brouillette said.

The problem is that other factors contribute to rent increases. Figuring out how much of that hike is due to repairs done by the landlord, for example, can be more difficult.

"For insurance, repairs, it's really hard to know [the cost]. Most tenants don't have the numbers to actually know if the increase is justified," said Maxime Roy-Allard from renters' rights association the Regroupement des Comités Logement et Associations de Locataires du Québec.

He said it's hard to know how many tenants are being overcharged, but of those who consult the province's housing committees, 90 per cent had an unjustified rent increase.

Roy-Allard said they want to make it mandatory for landlords to provide tenants with all the numbers they used to calculate the rent increase, so that renters can do the math for themselves to see if it is justified or not.

"What we see year after year, is that many landlords try to increase [rent] more than they would be allowed if they go to the tribunal," he said.

For now, Roy-Allard said renters who need help determining whether their rent hikes are reasonable can call their local housing committees.

With files from Laura Marchand

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