The harmonized sales tax could mean increased costs for apartment renters, according to the executive director of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre. In an interview yesterday morning on Public Eye Radio, Martha Lewis said electricity and maintenance fees - which were exempt from the provincial sales tax - will increase by seven percent under the new regime. And apartment owners could trying passing those increases onto their tenants.
Ms. Lewis noted landlords can usually only raise rents by the rate of inflation plus two percent each year. But they can also ask government to allow a bigger boost if there's been an "extraordinary increase in operating expenses."
In Ontario, rental housing providers estimated their province's harmonized sales tax could result in rent hikes of up to three percent. And, if something similar happened in British Columbia, Ms. Lewis said the results could be devastating for some British Columbians.
"We know that all lower income people and those on fixed income - such as retired people or people living on disability pensions - they're all renters," stated Ms. Lewis. "If you don't have money, you definitely can't afford to buy in this province. And those people are hardest hit by any increase in costs in any area of their lives. And rent, of course, is not an option. You need a place to live."