By Tara Henley 
BELLEVILLE – The Quinte  Region Landlords Association  held an information seminar Monday with officials from Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation  to explain why local multi-unit owners may see an increase in their property tax.
The increases are due to recent changes MPAC made to its property valuation method. Notices of the change were recently sent out to landlords in Belleville, many of whom saw an increase in their property evaluations, according to association president Robert Gentile.
“Whenever there are changes to an assessment, the value usually increases and the property taxes go up as a result,” he said.
The seminar was organized to “help landlords better understand their valuations so they could decide whether or not to raise rent,” Gentile said.
However, rent increases may not be necessary, because not all rental-unit owners will be affected the same, he said.
Catherine Barr , the account manager for municipal and stakeholder relations at MPAC, said that property evaluations are usually phased in over a span of many years to better reflect the market.
“These changes were meant to modernize multi-residential property assessments,” she said. “We’re very confident … and consider this a vast improvement from the previous method.”
The former valuation process compared gross income from similar rental properties in the region, whereas the new method focuses on the properties’ net operating income . The changes were supported by the rental-housing industry, and are considered the best practice by the International Association of Assessing Officers , says MPAC manager of centralized properties Mike Cranney, who also attended the seminar.
“From 2013, we’ve been feeling out the area and doing research and consultation with provincial and industry representatives,” Cranney said. “Feedback was telling us that the gross income method wasn’t working. Now there’s a greater transparency of the valuation process. We aren’t hiding anything.”
Cranney also told landlords at the seminar that they weren’t “stuck with it” if they didn’t agree with their property’s value.
“I encourage you to challenge it if you disagree. We have a reconsideration and appeal process that landlords can apply for before Feb. 21,” he said. “We owe you a fair value, but we don’t owe you a cheaper assessment just for applying. Do some research first and know your market.”