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Tenants say landlords have already increased their rent

Tenants say landlords have already increased their rent

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Just days after the announcement by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr Ralph Gonsalves that property taxes here will increase by an average of 15 per cent, some landlords have already raised their rent.{{more}}

One female renter, who resides at Redemption Sharpes, said for the past three years, she has been paying $600, and immediately following the prime minister’s announcement, her rent was increased.

“Now last week he come telling me that I have to pay $700. A whole $100 increase. I asked him why, and he told me it’s because government increasing property tax.

“The tax has not gone on yet, so why do I feel like I getting rob?” the woman asked.

Another tenant from the same community described a similar experience.

“I live in a two bedroom apartment with my three children, and I’ve been renting from her for a year and some months now, for $450. I am a single mother and it was affordable at $450, but then she told me property tax gone up, so I have to now pay $575.

“It’s rough,” the woman explained.

“You can’t expect to just suddenly increase people rent because it was announced, and I check it out myself and I understand that government ain’t implement the thing yet,” the mother of two said.

The individual said, as a result, she has decided to find somewhere else to rent, because she thinks she is being “robbed.”

“They just using what the man say about increasing property tax, so that they can get more out of us.

“That increase is out of my budget, so I moving to somewhere cheaper. If the increase was already in place, I might have understand, but it ain’t in place yet, so I am not taking that.

“They need to look into this because we renters are getting robbed,” she stated.

During his Budget address in January, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that property taxes will now be based on the market value of the property, instead of the annual rental value, which was previously the case. He said this will result in an average increase in rates by 15 per cent, with some persons having to pay more.

According to Gonsalves, the rental values are administratively difficult to determine, especially in areas where almost all the properties are owner occupied.

Although all property owners would be registered, Gonsalves said that it was the government’s intention to exempt those who own properties with an assessed value less than $25,000 from the payment of the tax, a number estimated at close to 10,000 property owners.

Transitional relief will be offered to individuals whose property tax will increase by more than 25 per cent and the assessment will be reduced where there are particular grounds to suggest that the market value is incorrect and has not been calculated on a proper basis, Gonsalves said.

The valuation list for the various districts will be published and made available to the general public for inspection and those property owners who are aggrieved with the valuation placed on their property will have the right to appeal to a valuation tribunal established by the government, the prime minister said.

The list and procedures for appeal will be made available to the public no later than February 28, 2012.

Meanwhile, at a press conference on Tuesday, January 24, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said that although government says they expect to earn an additional $3.5 million from the increase in property tax, he believes it will be more.

He said that given the fact that several thousand properties, which were never on the tax roll will be paying for the first time, plus the properties already on tax roll, “indications are that government will collect more taxes than the additional $3.5 million stated in the Estimates.

“For those who are renting, rents will increase to cover the additional property taxes along with the increased VAT,” Eustace stated.

He also said that a number of tenants have already been informed that their rents will increase when the quantum of property tax is known.

When SEARCHLIGHT contacted the Valuation Department, it was confirmed that the increased property taxes have not yet taken effect and an implementation date has not yet been confirmed.

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