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Nova Scotia landlords complain about insurance hikes


A proposed rent cap that would max out rent increases at two per cent for the next two years has pitted landlords against tenants and the Nova Scotia government.

Mike Burgess owns eleven buildings in Dartmouth and says his insurance usually goes up a few per cent each year but this year, it'll jump.

"I can't justify that 40 per cent increase, especially with my portfolio with minimal claims," Burgess said.

Add in higher costs for heating, building materials and the two per cent rent cap and he worries costs will outpace revenue.

"If every one of my tenants was given a two per cent increase that would almost cover the insurance increase that I've received this year," he said.

Amanda Dean, vice-president Atlantic with Insurance Bureau of Canada, said we're currently in a hard market where claims have increased and premiums need to catch up accordingly.

Between 2013 and 2018, there was a steep upswing of claims in commercial property and liability.

"Some landlords are likely seeing increases within their policy renewals and some might be staying the same," she said. "But a lot of it comes back to what is the particular risk with that particular building?"

Dean noted there are several factors driving up claims -- including severe weather such as windstorms and hurricanes, buildings having more water-using appliances in units such as dishwashers that could result in leaking as well as deferred maintenance, particularly in older buildings.

"One of the things insurers have observed is that a lot of claims result from deferred maintenance," Dean said.

Kevin Russell with the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia told CTV News it's a growing trend to see landlords facing insurance hikes of 45 to 50 per cent -- mostly in older buildings. 

"Insurance companies are demanding landlords make some specific upgrades to their building units which is adding to their cost," Russell said, "They're being asked to upgrade their electrical panels to 100 amp and also where there's aluminum wire in the building they're being asked to rewire the building and that can come at a cost, an average cost of $5,000 a unit."

Tenants also understand increased costs. Inflation is up and Belinda Marsman lives in a fixed income. She's in favour of the rent cap.

"It's going to help me out a lot, plus other people who I know it having trouble paying rent," she said. 

When Houston was asked whether his government would consider raising the rent cap beyond two per cent he said not at this time.

"I'm completely sympathetic to landlords, particularly small landlords," Houston said. "We see the inflation rate, we know costs are going up but when we considered all the factors we need to take dramatic action to address the housing crisis in this province." Top Stories

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