Nova Scotia

Property owners' group wants tax cap program to include apartment buildings

People who own apartment buildings want Halifax to help them get some relief from property taxes.

Investment property assessments are increasing 5 to 15% annually, owners group says

Peter Polley, with the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPOANS), says assessments for apartment buildings have been increasing between five and 15 per cent every year. (CBC)

A group of Nova Scotia investment property owners wants some relief from rising tax assessments. 

A cap on tax assessments has been place in the province since 2005 to prevent sharp spikes in individual tax bills.  It's based on the Nova Scotia Consumer Price Index. 

This year assessment increases are limited to 1.4 per cent.

But the cap only applies to single-family homes, condominiums and trailers. It does not apply to the apartment sector. 

'The old, the poor, the students'

Peter Polley, vice-president of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia (IPOANS), says assessments for apartment buildings have been increasing between five and 15 per cent every year.  That limits the amount of maintenance that can be done and contributes to rent increases, he said. 

"It's the old, the poor, the students that are paying a disproportionate share of property taxes because the apartment sector is not covered by the cap program," he said.

The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities has been lobbying to eliminate the cap assessment program altogether because municipal officials believe it distorts the market value picture.

The UNSM commissioned a study of the issue in 2014. 

'It should be extended'

Polley does not want to get involved in the elimination issue.

"Now that it's been in place for so long, the province has dug itself into a hole that is hard to get out of," he said. "But for the period of time there is a cap, in order to be fair,  it should be extended to all residential types of dwellings."

IPOANS has talked to the Municipal Affairs minister about including the apartment sector.  The province says Halifax would have to agree before any changes could be made.

"In the interest of housing affordability, we ask that HRM work with the apartment sector and Municipal Affairs over the upcoming year."

Polley addressed regional council Wednesday. Mayor Mike Savage said he will ask city staff to look into his request. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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