Coun. Danny Breen says a lot of people don't really understanding what door-to-door property inspections are all about.
The Telegram told readers Friday about how the city announced this week that a team of inspectors will be visiting homes until September to measure properties and take photos, and may ask to enter a home for inspection.
Coun. Danny Breen at recent St. John’s city council meeting. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
If people don't let the inspectors in, there's the possibility of a fine of no less than $50. A number of people who commented on the original Telegram story questioned how it was legal for anybody to be fined for not letting somebody into their house.
Breen says that measure is laid out in the Municipal Tax Assessment Act, which is actually a provincial act that has nothing to do with city decision-making.
There is a section that allows for a fine or even jail time, but Breen says that's hardly something that's going to happen.
"Nobody has ever been fined or sent to jail," he says. "If somebody doesn't let us in the house, we'll go away."
But if somebody wants to appeal their tax assessment, it could be used against them that they didn't let the inspectors into their home, because what the people are doing isn't reassessing people's taxes but updating the information on people's homes.
Breen says the annual work - separate from the citywide total reassessment done once every three years - is done to keep an accurate database for property taxes.
And they're doing it as it's laid out in the provincial act.
"It doesn't matter what the city thinks," Breen says.
"What we're doing this summer, we've done every summer for the past number of years. We are not reassessing. We are updating our information."
Breen also says updating the information can work to people's benefit. A house listed as two apartment that hasn't had the apartment rented in years will then go back to a one apartment if the inspector is allowed to see it, and then taxes will go down.