Condo, Strata and HOA News

Tag Archives: taxation

Chicago Address Budget Shortfall By Taxing Condos For Services They Don’t Receive

Chicago will be eliminating a $75/unit rebate given to condominiums of 5 or more units in their 2012 budget. This rebate was started in 1984 because the city taxes these condominiums yet they do not provide any garbage service to them.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicates:

Eliminating this garbage rebate for condominium owners, a step also recommended by the city’s inspector general, is the fair and honest thing to do for Chicagoans.

Seriously – how is charging money for nothing exactly fair and honest? Let’s see – you pay me taxes, and I’ll refuse to provide the services you pay for. Sounds like Mayor Emanuel has no idea what the words “fair” nor “honest” mean. Perhaps we should send him a dictionary – or emails with online links to the true meaning of those words.

The Problem with Conversion Neighbourhoods and New Residents

When we bought our first condo, the building came with an unofficial escort service on one of the corners of the building. If I’m being a little vague, what I mean to say, the building was at the corner of a popular hooker stroll.

We bought knowing what the situation is. The exiting companionship business (ok, less colloquialisms) was there before we bought into the condominium. The neighbourhood was on the cusp of redevelopment with 5 new high-rise condominiums going in within 2 blocks of our new home. We also benefited from the prostitutes – it was a very affordable unit near the downtown core and multiple public transit stops. It was a great buy for our first condo.

In Montreal, a similar neighbourhood is drawing attention. Known as the Gay Village, an onset of condominium buyers and young families is bringing forward a clash with the local homelessness and beggars established in the community.

I’m bugged by people who move into an existing neighbourhood and then demand changes for their lifestyle. They moved into an area with a known homeless situation, and now want them all deported from their new home. Relax. Take it easy for a couple years. There are two stories I want to tell you.

First off – there was a burglary in one of the commercial units in our condominium. The entered through the residence, made their way though the service hallway and raided a store. While making their escape they passed by several of the working ladies and departed. When the police showed up to investigate, the ladies provided details and descriptions of the culprits and their manner of escape. They proved to be a reliable set of witnesses to the crime.

Second – give the city a few years. With new development, especially higher density, new tax revenue will come through to the city. After giving the pre-existing inhabitants of the community time to realize that the community is changing (and they will, street revitalization with new shops and other revitalization events always follow high density redevelopment), you can approach city hall with a strong tax case for enhanced community initiative (including police) that will push out the pre-existing community. You just have to give it a few years, and don’t come into an existing community just to push your weight around.

Our first condo is now hooker free (not by far, they popular streets only migrated a few blocks), but they have moved. It happened relatively naturally and without the need for new residents to build conflict with the old.

Condo Owners Often Pay Twice For Trash

It’s nice to see a proactive city council – East Greenwich, Rhode Island – looking at city pick-up of condominium trash.

Cities extensively benefit from condominiums – each condominium unit pays property tax, but the corporation (especially in townhouse and high-rise) usually have to pay for third party services often offered to single detached housing.

This is often true with trash pick-up. Condominium owners pay municipal tax and then have to pay part of their condo fees for non-municipal trash services.

So it is always nice to see a city council look at delivering fair services to all their properties, instead of taking the property tax and “running.”

Sidewalk Responsibility: Bad Tax Effect for Condominiums

Read an article in the ffwdweekly here in Calgary where a local community identified sidewalk replacement as a cost that the local residents and businesses shouldn’t have added to their municipal tax roll – but should be a cost burdened by the entire city.

For many municipalities, Calgary included, sidewalks, alley paving and streetlights are all charged back to the “using” residents and businesses. While not universal, it’s relatively common and not an unusual process.

What I would object to, as a condominium owner, is that condominiums already are disproportionally charged taxes in Calgary under the fair market value (where all properties pay a set percentage of their value each year as tax). Fair Market Value taxation isn’t fair to many condominiums. For instance, multi-unit apartment style does not receive garbage pickup from the municipality. They have to pay for private pick up, while still paying the city for garbage pickup which they don’t deliver on.

For sidewalks, it wouldn’t be uncommon in Calgary with large lots, to have a single residence with 30 metres  of sidewalk or more. For multi-unit condominiums, that could work to as low as 2 metres/unit. As in the case of community requesting that “the whole city” pay for their new sidewalk, they are significantly underpaying their share and offloading it to more eco-friendly condominiums which have significantly smaller land and services footprints.