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Copyright 2012: City of St. John's,
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
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BY-LAW NO. 1562
PASSED BY COUNCIL ON October 29, 2012

Pursuant to the powers vested in it under section 4 of the City of St. John’s Municipal Taxation Act, SNL 2006 c.C-17.1, as amended, and all other powers enabling it, the City of St. John’s enacts the following By-Law related to commercial property tax.

1. This By-Law may be cited as the “St. John’s Commercial Property Tax By-Law”.

2. (1) In this By-Law:

(a) “leaseable area” means the total floor area of a commercial property available to be rented to a tenant and on which rent will be paid to the landlord;

(b) “vacancy” means leaseable area that:

(i) is unoccupied and for which there is no rent, of any kind, being paid, whether accruing, or not, for the period that such rent is unrecoverable whether due to bankruptcy proceedings of the tenant, or other cause acceptable to the City;

(ii) is occupied by a tenant who has filed or is subject to bankruptcy proceedings, for the period prior to the appointment of a trustee and subject to further readjustment for any related payments under the bankruptcy proceeding;

(iii) is occupied by a tenant who is not paying rent despite the reasonable and best efforts by the landlord to obtain payment and provided that any exemption is subject to readjustment in the event of any subsequent recovery by the landlord;

(iv) for any one series of consecutive months during the full term of a lease is provided rent free, including free of operating and common expenses, to the tenant in accordance with the provisions of a lease as an inducement to the tenant, provided that such period may not exceed a maximum period of six months in any lease;

(v) is not being occupied for any purpose whatsoever, including but not limited to, temporary storage or for passage of people or goods, and for which there is no rent of any kind being paid;

(vi) is occupied by a charitable organization duly recognized as such under the Income Tax Act, RSC 1985, c.C-1(5th Supp.), or successor legislation as amended from time to time, or such other entity which has been exempted from municipal taxation by agreement or regulation of the City or federal or provincial legislation; and (Amended 2013/09/23; #1569)

(vii) space in buildings that becomes vacant due to the annual closing of a seasonal business operation, provided that such period(s) may not exceed a maximum of six months in any one year. provided, however, that any vacancy determined under any of the above sub-sections shall not be eligible for exemption where the parties to the lease are related or associated as defined in accordance with the Income Tax Act, RSC 1985, c.C-1(5th Supp.), or successor legislation as amended from time to time; and

(c) “vacancy relief” means relief from real property tax due to vacancy in a commercial property.
    (2) Unless otherwise stated the definitions in the City of St. John’s Municipal Taxation Act, SNL 2006, c.C-17.1, as amended, shall apply.

3. Vacancy relief may only be applied for where:

(a) a building or portion thereof is subject to vacancy for at least 30 consecutive days; and

(b) the portion claiming vacancy is clearly delineated or separated by a physical barrier, or capable of being separated by a physical barrier, from any occupied portion of the building provided that such portion is:

(i) capable of being leased for immediate occupancy;

(ii) capable of being leased, but not for immediate occupancy due to repairs, renovations, or construction that is needed and/or underway to render the portion available for occupancy; or

(iii) subject to a closure order issued by the City and is vacant.

4. (1) The application for vacancy relief shall be made in arrears and shall be in the form as made available by the City.

(2) The application for vacancy relief shall be submitted to the City within 30 days of the last day of each quarter of the taxation year. A taxpayer who fails to file an application for vacancy relief within the time specified shall be deemed to have filed a nil vacancy relief claim for such quarter.

(3) The application for vacancy relief shall be accompanied by all information requested by the City to properly process the application.

(4) The City may conduct investigations and inspections of a commercial property to determine the validity of an application for vacancy relief.

(5) The City shall cause a notice to be sent to the owner of a commercial property claiming vacancy relief where it determines such application does not establish an entitlement to vacancy relief.

5. Real property tax on commercial property shall be paid on a quarterly basis with each payment to be remitted within 30 days of the preceding quarter.

6. The amount of vacancy relief shall be 50% of the real property tax applicable to the vacant area.

7. Vacancy relief shall be credited to the property tax account prior to the end of the quarter following that quarter for which vacancy relief has been granted.

8. The City may audit a representative selection of applications for vacancy relief.

9. The City will not pay interest on any adjustments or credits to property tax accounts resulting from vacancy relief or an adjustment thereto.

10. Any person who contravenes the provisions of this By-Law or makes a false or deceptive claim shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon summary conviction to a penalty as provided for in Section 403 of the City of St. John’s Act.

11. This By-Law shall come into effect on January 1, 2013.