New Brunswick Tribune

Thursday, November 30, 2023

As the N.B. Legislature prepares to reconvene, opposition MLAs offer solutions to the housing crisis

As the N.B. Legislature returns, opposition MLAs offer answers to the housing situation.

Key Takeaways:

  • When MLAs return to Fredericton next month, few subjects on the order page of the New Brunswick legislature are expected to receive the same level of attention as Bill 96.
  • Melanson contends that this is insufficient, claiming that apartment owners will suffer substantially higher property tax increases.

Few issues on the order page of New Brunswick’s legislative assembly are expected to garner the same level of attention as Bill 96 when MLAs return to Fredericton next month.

The bill, which would put a 3.8 percent limitation on rental increases for the current calendar year and limit the grounds a landlord can terminate a tenancy, is expected to obtain royal approval in mid-June before the legislature adjourns for the summer. Even some who believe in the cap’s principle argue that the law is insufficient.

“We do need to have it in place, but we also need to strengthen it,” said Green Party leader David Coon, “because what we’re seeing is some landlords seeking to evade it.”

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When the one-year rent cap was declared in March, finance minister Ernie Steeves indicated it would be reviewed at the end of the year. A one-year cap, according to Coon, fails to safeguard tenants since it allows a landlord to raise rents at any time after it expires.

He claims to have heard from residents in that circumstance, who have already gotten notices of rent hikes for January 1 greater than the 3.8 percent raise.

“What is it accomplishing in the end if that’s the kind of maneuvering that some are using to continue to impose exorbitant rent increases?” Coon asked.

Instead of the legislation’s one-year limit, Coon wants it to be extended over several years, with regulations providing for review and removal.

Others are against the concept of a rent cap in the first place. According to Liberal leader Roger Melanson, the cap is a “Band-Aid measure” that the party was hesitant to embrace.

He claims that enormous rises in tax assessments, fueled by a feeding frenzy by out-of-province purchases, have forced smaller New Brunswick landlords to raise rents.

As the N.B. Legislature returns, opposition MLAs offer answers to the housing situation.
As the N.B. Legislature returns, opposition MLAs offer answers to the housing situation. Image from CBC News

“The government is attempting to find a solution by assigning duty for repair to all landlords and owners of these structures.” “The provincial government does not spend enough on affordable housing and property tax control,” Melanson remarked.

“Ultimately, someone will have to pay the rent and bear these costs, and it will almost certainly be the tenants.”

In reality, Melanson wants the government to impose a temporary restriction on commercial property tax assessments, similar to the spike protection system that caps increases to 10% for owner-occupied residential properties. He believes this should be supplemented with a rise in rent subsidies to generate more affordable housing.

Residential homes will get a 15% reduction in the provincial portion of property tax in this year’s budget, and the so-called triple tax on non-owner occupied properties will be reduced by 50% over four years.

However, Melanson claims that this isn’t enough, arguing that apartment owners face significantly greater hikes in their property tax bills.

Source: Global News

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