Update: October 25, 2021 at 12:58 p.m.
Diane Elliott, Director of the Property Assessment Department (Photo provided)
The government has been accused of sending “offensive” letters to landowners requesting entry into their homes to verify if they are dodging additional tax payments for home renovations.
A woman who received a letter from the property assessment department said she felt like she had been charged with a felony.
The woman, who asked not to be named, said she was threatened by the letter and was also afraid to allow strangers into her home due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She added, âThe first sentence of this letter bluntly accuses me and others I know of making changes without authorization and of cheating the revenue government.
âThis is not only extremely offensive, but in the case of this property, it is 100% incorrect.
âStarting from a premise of guilt is therefore a total waste of the inspector’s time in cases like mine, and an unnecessary waste of government money. “
The woman, from Pembroke, added that details of her property were already on file with the government and asked why they hadn’t checked their records first.
She asked, “How accurate are the land valuation records and do they assume that everyone has something to hide?”
“Are all households and business premises selected or is the selection random?” Is this a prelude to a general increase in property tax?
The woman said, âThey have the power to enter any premises they like.
“How will this work given that people are very careful who they let in because of Covid?” Do they depart from this choice of personal protection?
âI know I won’t let them in, mask or not. Still, the documents suggest that if I refuse, they will call the police. “
The letter warned that an inspection of the home would have to be done as changes had been made to the property which could affect its annual rental value and property tax charges.
But the woman said no major changes have been made to the building since it was built around 80 years ago.
The letter, signed by Diane Elliott, Director of the Property Assessment Department, read: âIn light of these changes, it is necessary for a staff member to visit the property to conduct an investigation to determine if there is a need. have an amendment to the evaluation list.
The letter added that the inspection would be carried out by an official from the property assessment service – and that the landlord would be in violation if entry was refused.
The letter added that the penalty “on summary conviction” was “a fine of $ 500”.
He warned: âIt is the duty of any police officer, at the request of the director, to provide the necessary assistance to enable any person duly authorized to exercise his powers under this article.
A spokesperson for the Home Office defended the letter and the policy of home inspections.
He said: âWithout specific details about the person or property in question, it is impossible to explain why the inspection letter was sent.
âHowever, the ministry may advise that the owner or occupant receives at least 24 hours written notice before inspecting a property.
âIn addition, the inspection letter is accompanied by a brochure explaining the process from start to finish. “
He added that the contact details of the labor inspector were also listed in case people had any questions.
The spokesperson said: “In accordance with the law, the ministry can indicate that the procedure for sending the letter and brochure informing the occupier has been in place for years.”
He added that if the woman had contacted the manager, the ministry was “confident … they would have been happy with the outcome.”
The spokesperson said the government was “fully aware” of the risk of Covid-19 and that the Ministry of Health’s precautions would be applied to its inspectors.
He added that the letter stated that access to the interior of commercial properties was required, but was not “always the case for residential properties”.
The spokesperson said the woman should contact the official named in the letter “so that we can directly address their concerns and receive feedback on how we can improve the process.”