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Novsa Scotia Renters Say – Force Landlords To Pass On Tax Reduction

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Force landlords to pass on tax reduction, renters say

Apartment owner says renters should not expect lower rents

CBC News

Posted: Sep 13, 2012 6:00 AM AT

Last Updated: Sep 13, 2012 10:48 AM AT

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A proposed provincial property tax reform for landlords is coming under fire by people who rent and who want to see their bills reduced.

The provincial government plans to reduce the amount of tax that is imposed on rental properties, commercial properties and second homes — what landlords have long referred to as “double taxation.”

But people who live in apartments, such as students, seniors and people on low incomes, may not see any rent reductions because landlords won’t be forced to pass on the savings to tenants.

Andrew Martel, the president of the University of New Brunswick Student Union, said the provincial government should force landlords to pass on the savings to students.

“The majority of those living here in Fredericton would feel safer knowing that these savings would come down to the students so that our rents wouldn’t be as high,” he said.

Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced a series of property tax reform proposals on Wednesday.Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch announced a series of property tax reform proposals on Wednesday. (CBC)Local Government Minister Bruce Fitch, who announced the proposed reforms on Wednesday, said he hopes the tax cut is passed on as lower rent, but stressed that’s not up to him.

“We can affect the provincial tax rate on that particular building. We can’t directly pass that on to the renters,” Fitch said.

Willy Scholten, who speaks for apartment owners in the province, said he wouldn’t guarantee the double tax being reduced by about one quarter will translate into lower rents.

“The expectation would be this will have the ability to minimize rent increases,” he said.

The local government minister said tenants push landlords to share the tax cut, just as landlords successfully pushed the provincial government to make the cut.

The proposed package of reforms also includes a new “spike protection” mechanism to guard against large property tax assessment hikes, lifting the three-per-cent property tax freeze, and the option of monthly payments instead of one large annual payment.

Landlord Email To Tenants Over Election Causes Uproar

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

November 1st, 2012



Building owner’s message urges support for Uteck

Canada has a history of student groups, labour organizations, celebrities and newspapers endorsing political candidates.

Now, a company that owns apartment buildings in the Halifax region is encouraging its tenants to vote for a particular council candidate in a five-person race, and that has an opponent seeing red.

Gerry Walsh said Thursday that renters in buildings owned by Paramount Management have recently received an email message urging them to vote for Sue Uteck in the new Peninsula South-Downtown district.

Aside from Walsh and Uteck, Mike MacDonell, Waye Mason and Dawg Father PHD are seeking to represent the Halifax constituency.

Voting day is Saturday.

Walsh said the property owner’s message to tenants is inappropriate at best and constitutes interference at worst.

“We support Sue, and think you should too,” part of the email correspondence says.

An apartment building owner has a certain amount of authority over renters, Walsh said, and that power structure is why he feels this case is troubling.

“I see quite a big distinction between the unions or student groups or (others) endorsing” a candidate, Walsh told The Chronicle Herald. “Because that relationship is more peer-to-peer than the landlord-tenant example here.” Walsh said Paramount Management is owned by developer Louis Lawen, a contributor to Uteck’s last campaign in 2008.

Uteck confirmed Lawen “did contribute to my campaign. That is a matter of public record.”

As for the message to renters, “I was not aware that (Paramount) was going to write to its tenants about supporting me,” she said. “It was their own initiative.”

Meanwhile, in a release Thursday, the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour said it is “closely watching municipal and school board elections throughout the province this week.”

It said the federation “is pleased to endorse and support pro-worker candidates across the Halifax Regional Municipality.”

The umbrella trade union organization “supports progressive, pro-worker candidates who will make sure issues like good jobs, affordable housing and quality public services like libraries and recreation programs are front and centre.”

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Family caught in housing crunch

Monday, August 20th, 2012

September 1st, 2012

When apprentice electrician Jason Dyke moved to St. John’s in April with his pregnant spouse, Lisa Collins, he thought he’d be able to save money to rent an apartment.

But months later, and with newborn twins, the couple still have no place of their own.

They are pretty much couch-surfing — sleeping on an air mattress in the basement apartment rented by Lisa Collins’ older daughter.

Before the twins’ premature birth, Dyke, who is from Centreville, was boarding with a relative, but there wasn’t room for more in that  household.

Meanwhile, Collins’ teenage daughter is back in Dover, in central Newfoundland, still waiting for the couple to find a place so she can begin school here.

“The plan was I was going to come in ahead of (Lisa) and try to save up some money and look for a place to rent,” Dyke said, as the two-week-old twins, Ava and Carter, napped in their bouncy seats.

But searching the apartment ads, they found out the rents in the metro were way beyond their means.

Collins wasn’t working prior to the babies’ birth and as a third-year apprentice, Dyke makes $20 an hour before taxes. He also pays child support for the daughter he has from a previous relationship.

“For us to live in here, it would take two of my paycheques,” Dyke said, adding that the $1,200-$1,400 that most landlords are asking for a three-bedroom place does not include utilities.

Besides shelter, the family needs food, transportation and double the baby supplies, such as diapers.

If they had to pay for child care, they’d be shelling out several hundred dollars for that.

With a damage deposit, he said, he’d need $2,000 just to move in.

“We can’t afford to pay $1,000, let alone $1,300 or $1,400 a month plus utilities. It’s too much,” Dyke said.

“The (federal) government is trying to cut unemployment, so they are saying, ‘Move to the bigger centres.’ I’m trying to move to a bigger centre, but I’m not going to move in here and take half the year’s wages just for rent — that’s crazy.”

“We came across a couple (of places) that were $800-$900, but the minute they hit the Internet, it’s like bang! Somebody’s got them,” Dyke said.

Dyke said the couple applied for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and came within the threshold, but he has no idea how long it would take to get a unit.

“The other op-tion soon is to have to do the driving-back-and-forth bit (to central Newfoundland on weekends). It does cost money for me to be driving back and forth; that, or quit and find another job or something,” Dyke said.

He said he hasn’t been working long enough at his job to be considered fora mortgage, nor would the cost of rent allow him to save up for a downpayment.

“If I was in here making minimum wage, I don’t think I would be able to survive. We’re basically going to be borderline struggling on what I am earning now,” Dyke said.

While Collins’ daughter and her boyfriend have welcomed them into their home, Dyke said he feels bad and worries that when the babies wake their parents at night they are waking the other couple, too.

“It’s their place and the two babies (wake up) screaming at nighttime. I feel like we are burdening them. They say it’s fine and everything, but I feel like that,” Dyke said.

Work must provide accreditation

To find something closer to Dover could mean work in another field, to the jeopardy of Dyke eventually obtaining his journeyman’s ticket.

“I could have taken jobs doing receiving, but that’s not going to help me,” Dyke said.

NDP housing critic Gerry Rogers said Dyke and Collins are the poster family for metro’s housing crisis.

“They are the epitome of the housing crunch,” Rogers said.

She noted the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. advises a maximum of 30 per cent of household income be spent on shelter and said that’s unattainable for many, given metro’s real estate and rental prices.

The cost of housing leaves many families with little for emergencies, food, clothing, school supplies and transportation, Rogers said.

“Things like holidays and movies are totally out of the question,” she added.

“A number of constituents who call are in a housing crisis. Government is saying there’s not a housing crisis. I don’t accept that.”

Rogers said people moving in from rural areas for jobs, and seniors moving in for services, are caught in the crunch.

For couples like Collins and Dyke, facing high rents makes it an even harder scramble to save for a house.

“We know that if people are able to buy homes, it builds up family wealth,” Rogers said.

“But first-time homebuyers have a hell of a time.”

She cited not only high prices, but the tightened rules for obtaining a mortgage and the expense of closing costs.

Rogers said Newfoundland and Labrador, like some other provinces, needs a program to assist people with home ownership.

She also advocates considering rent stabilization and a plan for affordable housing.

Rogers said when the government sells off Crown land to developers, there’s no guarantee there will be affordable housing built there, as smaller units don’t necessarily translate to manageable prices.

And she said, the government shouldn’t be selling land anywhere in the province until it comes up with a housing plan.

“It’s so important that municipal governments have to work together, and private industry, to look at building affordable housing,” Rogers said.

“Incomes are not going up as fast as the cost of living, or as fast as the increase of the cost of shelter. Shelter is not a privilege. It’s a right, a necessity.”

Mother, son forced from apartment due to bedbugs

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

August 16, 2012


A persistent problem with bedbugs in a Moncton apartment building has forced a mother and her son from their home.

To make matters worse, Crystal Ayre depends on income assistance and her son has respiratory problems, which means the fumes from the spraying are keeping them out of their unit even longer.

“I haven’t paid this month’s rent because I had to pay it elsewhere, and now I’m flat broke,” says Ayre.

Ayre says she never thought an insect would wreak so much havoc in her life, but bedbugs have been a problem in her apartment building for the last few weeks.

The problem first began in another tenant’s unit and Ayre was forced to leave the building so it could be sprayed. But the bugs returned last week, and this time closer to home.

“I went, started moving everything back into my room, moved by bed around, and found bugs on my bed,” she says.

Workers showed up to spray her apartment this morning, but left without doing so. They told Ayre her apartment wasn’t ready to be sprayed because her belongings weren’t wrapped up. Ayre says she would have done so, had she been told.

“I would have taken every precaution to avoid this situation,” she says.

The building’s owner confirms bedbug reports have been filed but wouldn’t give any further details.

With Ayre out of her apartment for at least another night, her expenses are quickly piling up.

“I’m paying out two weeks so far in rent elsewhere, so it’s like two or three days here, two or three days there. Every time they spray because my son, he has severe asthma.”

Officials with Social Development say they generally don’t give further help in bedbug cases because tenants are typically displaced for just a few hours while pest control companies do the cleanup and they wouldn’t comment on Ayre’s case.

Stephen Heard, a biologist at the University of New Brunswick, says he’s not surprised to hear about an apartment building struggling to control a bedbug problem because the critters are simply getting stronger.

“Anytime you use an agent to kill something, it’s a selective force we call it,” says Heard. “And what we expect, they evolve and become more difficult to kill and it’s happened to bedbugs so chemicals that used to work well don’t work well anymore.”

For now, Ayre says she will have to keep away from her unit, until she is certain both the bugs and fumes are gone.

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Frustration with landlord leaves Salmon River family at wit’s end

Joey Nahwegaheow is worried about health issues his family may be suffering from because of suspected mould in his rented mobile home. HARRY SULLIVAN TRURO DAILY NEWS Joey Nahwegaheow is worried about health issues his family may be suffering from because of suspected mould in his rented mobile home. HARRY SULLIVAN TRURO DAILY NEWS

Published on August 3, 2012

Bathroom mould cited as major concern

Topics :
Truro Daily News , Tim Horton’s , Landlord and Tenant Board of Nova Scotia , Salmon River , Bible Hill , Nova Scotia

SALMON RIVER – Joey Nahwegaheow is getting a bit tired of running to a coffee shop everytime he or a family member has to use the bathroom.

And, the novelty of bathing in the outdoors has pretty much run its course, too.

“We go over to Salmon River here and use that,” he said, of himself, his wife Stacey and 15-year-old daughter Elizabeth.

“We don’t come in here, usually,” he said, of the bathroom in the mobile home he recently rented on Montgomery Lane in Salmon River.

“Just to do laundry, in and out. And we go down to Tim Horton’s for the bathroom. The toothbrushes and stuff all stay out there,” he said, pointing to the kitchen.

“We would love to get out of this place but we don’t have two dimes to get out of here right now.”

Nahwegaheow said he rented the home from Dockrey Apartments in Bible Hill shortly after arriving in Nova Scotia from Ontario about mid July. Not long after, he said, his family began to notice strange odours and fungus, mushroom-like growths sprouting out from around the kitchen sink and bathroom tub.

One such growth was evident during a visit to the home by the Truro Daily News on Friday. As well, a large dark stain, resembling that caused by mould, was evident on the back wall of the bathtub surround.

“It’s like a thick smell in there. Sour,” he said.

Nahwegaheow said he was astonished by the reaction of his landlord, Robert Dockrey, when he approached him with his concerns. Ultimately, that led to a point where he said Dockrey refused to discuss the issue with him.

At that point, Nahwegaheow said he filed a complaint with the Landlord and Tenant Board of Nova Scotia and a hearing date has been set for Sept. 6.

He said Dockrey has filed a counter complaint and on Thursday issued a five-day notice to vacate the premises.

“He’s saying if it’s true that there’s mould in there, then it’s uninhabitable …”

And while Nahwegaheow said his landlord has offered to rebate his $325 damage deposit, he believes his month’s rent should also be returned because without it he cannot afford to rent elsewhere.

To further compound things, Nahwegaheow said his wife has serious allergy issues and his daughter is asthmatic and they have both been suffering ill effects they believe is related to the mould.

Based on information on Dockrey’s website, Nahwegaheow believes he has other units available and he said he would gladly transfer to one of those. But that too appears not to be an option.

Dockrey did not return a call placed by the Truro Daily News and a man who initially answered a call placed to his number simply stated: “I figured that was you that’s why I didn’t answer,” before hanging up.

Information found on a website for Dockrey Apartments offers the following description: “Dockrey Apartments offer excellent accommodation for families, couples, and singles. Our properties for rent are clean, well maintained, and extensively renovated. We take pride in our properties and are certain they will please.”

From Nahwegaheow’s perspective, however, they are anything but.

“I asked them just to come in and fix it … they don’t want to deal with it. And as soon as I make a hassle about it, they want me out,” he said.

Dear Halifax Landlords. My dog is less mess and noise then a kid

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

I just wanted to drop a line to all the landlords in Halifax that are anti-dog. I wish you knew how many amazing tenants you miss out on just because they have a dog. And I have to say I find it insulting that childern are ok but dogs are not. Kids are just as, if not more, smelly, destructive and loud as dogs. Stop with the hate. Add love to your leases. Or just an extra deposit if you have a dog. If I had breed myself an offspring I would be responsible for any damage it may incur. I assure you the same is for my furbaby. Damages are damages …yes?