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Owners of derelict properties in Edmonton to be charged a higher tax rate: city

Firefighters work on a blaze at a boarded-up home near 95 Street and 110 Avenue in the early morning of May 25, 2023. Firefighters work on a blaze at a boarded-up home near 95 Street and 110 Avenue in the early morning of May 25, 2023.

Edmonton city council has approved a new tax subclass for derelict residential properties.

"Starting in 2024, the new derelict tax subclass can be applied to residential properties in mature neighbourhoods that show serious signs of neglect, are dilapidated, are falling into significant disrepair or are unlivable," the city said in a news release.

This will allow the city to charge a higher tax rate to owners of such properties.

The city says an estimated 300 property owners will be notified by mail this fall that their property is being assessed as derelict.

All property assessments will be confirmed in January when notices are sent to Edmonton's 400,000 property owners.

"Managing derelict properties often comes with additional costs to the city and a higher tax rate will help to cover those costs while encouraging property owners to clean up derelict houses," said Cate Watt of the city's assessment and taxation branch. "We hope this will play a role in improving the vibrancy of mature neighbourhoods in the long run."

In an independent case study from 2017 to 2020, a sample of 31 properties cost the city an estimated $1.3 million in bylaw inspections, enforcement, fire inspections and suppression, safety codes, development compliance inspections, and police inspections and responses.

Several of the properties were derelict, the city said, and contributed significantly to the costs.

In order for a property to be considered derelict for tax purposes, the physical condition of the home on the property must be inspected, the city said.

Officials will be looking for houses that are deserted, boarded up, deemed unfit for habitation, abandoned part way through the process of construction or demolition, a health or fire risk, or a location of repeat criminal activity.

"Problem properties are defined by those issues. This means that not all problem properties will be considered derelict and vice versa," the city said.

Edmontonians who are concerned about problem properties can notify the city by calling 311 or using the report a problem property form online.

The city says Edmonton is the first Canadian city to make a subclass specifically for derelict properties.