FREDERICTON (GNB) – As part of the provincial government’s provincewide approach to improving affordable housing, legislation was introduced today to help offset increasing property assessments and rising rents for property owners and renters.

Under the proposed legislation, provincial property tax rates would be lowered over the next three years, starting with the 2022 taxation year. If approved, these changes would result in a 50 per cent reduction in the provincial property tax rate for non-owner-occupied residential properties and a 15 per cent reduction for non-residential properties and other residential properties.

“Our government has heard from individuals and the business community that there is a need to address the high tax burden in New Brunswick and the cost pressures they face,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “We are pleased to reduce provincial property tax rates on New Brunswickers now that we are in a more stable financial position.”

These measures would reduce property tax revenue by an estimated $45 million in 2022–2023 and a total of $112 million by 2024-25.

Property tax notices to be issued on April 1 will reflect the lower property tax rates for 2022.

Rent cap introduced

To support tenants and ensure they benefit from the proposed property tax measures, the government also introduced legislation to temporarily cap rent increases and require landlords to provide an acceptable reason to end a tenancy.

“We have heard the tenants’ concerns and are putting in place more measures to help ease the pressures they are facing,” said Service New Brunswick Minister Mary Wilson. “The changes we are introducing to temporarily cap rent increases and strengthen regulations for ending tenancies will further help tenants facing rising rents, increased costs and low vacancy rates.”

As part of the proposed changes, rent increases would be capped for one year – retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022, until Dec. 31, 2022 – at 3.8 per cent, which is the annual increase in the New Brunswick consumer price index for 2021. Previous rent increases set below this amount would not change.

Tenants who received a rent increase that took effect on or after Jan. 1, 2022, who continue to live in the unit, could deduct the amount owing for overpayment on their next month’s rent and begin paying the new reduced amount equivalent to the 3.8 per cent increase in April. No action would be required from the landlord to start this process.

Landlords would have to reimburse rent overpayments to tenants who had already moved out of a unit. Tenants would be advised to contact the landlord to have the reimbursement issued.

Tenants who do not receive a reimbursement from the landlord would be advised to immediately contact the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

Once the proposed rent cap is removed, tenants would continue to be protected by measures introduced late last year, including the Residential Tenancies Tribunal having authority to review and deny unreasonable rent increases.

Proposed amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act, if approved, would extend to all tenants the current protections for long-term tenants related to terminating tenancies. As such, a tenancy could only be terminated for one of the following legislated reasons:

  • a relative will become an occupant of the unit
  • extensive renovations will be undertaken requiring the unit be vacant
  • an employment contract has ended
  • the unit will be used for reasons other than a residential premise

Another amendment to the Residential Tenancies Act would include a penalty for landlords failing to comply with these changes. Further, tenants facing losses due to a tenancy being ended without just cause would be able to apply for compensation from the landlord.

“We must ensure that the decisions we make will achieve their intended purpose of improving affordable housing for tenants, not only today, but also for future generations,” said Wilson. “The effectiveness of these measures, along with the protections implemented in December, will be monitored and reassessed later this year.”

The Residential Tenancies Tribunal helps resolve conflicts between landlords and tenants while upholding and enforcing the Residential Tenancies Act.

Tenants and landlords with questions or concerns can email irent@snb.ca, call 1-888-762-8600 or visit www.snb.ca/irent.