Ontario Property Taxes and Value Assessments: A Comprehensive Guide for Homeowners in 2024

The Background

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about various changes and delays to just about everything, and Ontario’s property assessment was no exception. To adapt to the circumstances during the pandemic, the Ontario government postponed the 2020 assessment update. As a result, property assessments for the 2023 and 2024 property tax years will be based on the fully phased-in January 1, 2016 current values. This decision allowed the government to extend the postponement of a province-wide reassessment through the end of the 2021-2024 assessment cycle.

The 2016 Benchmark

In 2016, the Ontario government mailed a Property Assessment Notice to every property owner in the province. This notice reflected the assessed value and classification of each property as of January 1, 2016. Remarkably, this benchmark will serve as the foundation for calculating property taxes for 2023 and 2024. So, what does this mean for homeowners?

If you were a property owner in 2016, you may wonder how the property’s value from seven years ago is relevant to your current tax bill. It’s a valid concern, as property values can fluctuate significantly over time. The answer lies in understanding that the 2016 benchmark as a snapshot in time, serving as a reference point. However, prepare yourself for a possible and maybe even significant increase on the next assessment. 

Ongoing Property Review

The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) continues to review properties during non-assessment update years. Even though the 2016 benchmark serves as the starting point, many factors prompt a reassessment. According to MPAC, these changes could include:

  1. Change in Property Ownership or Legal Description: If there has been a change in the legal ownership of your property, meaning you bought and/or sold, you might receive a notice from MPAC.
  2. Value Changes from Appeals: If you’ve previously filed a request for reconsideration or had an assessment review board decision, and it resulted in a change to your property’s assessed value, this will be reflected in your assessment.
  3. Structural Changes: Any additions, renovations, or demolition of structures on your property can impact your assessment. A new structure, the removal of an old one, or significant modifications will be considered.
  4. Classification or Tax Liability Changes: If the classification of your property changes, it can affect your tax liability. Understanding the classification of your property is crucial as it determines your property tax rate.

What to Expect in 2024

As 2024 fast approaches, it’s essential for homeowners to be aware of these factors. With the 2016 benchmark serving as the base, any property changes made since then can lead to increases in your property assessment. 

Property taxes are also influenced by municipal budgets and tax rates, which can fluctuate from year to year. Understanding your property assessment is a vital step in the process, as it allows you to make informed decisions about your financial planning and property ownership.

If you’re a prospective buyer entering the market in the coming months, this information is equally important for you. When considering a property purchase, it’s vital to understand not only the property’s current value but also its potential for changes in the near future.

By being proactive and understanding the factors that affect property assessments, homeowners can plan and prepare for any changes that may come their way. Whether you’re a current homeowner or a future property buyer, knowledge is your greatest ally in navigating Ontario’s property assessment system, be prepared. 


Fire Safety and Prevention Tips for Your Home.

Fire safety in the home is essential throughout the year, though extra attention is encouraged during colder seasons as we fire up our heating systems and turn to candles to create warm atmospheres. There are simple, yet preventative, steps you can take to reduce the risk of fires in your home to keep you, your loved ones and your belongings safe.

This article will assess some of the key hazards in our homes we tend to overlook as well as the major, life-saving effect of working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Fire Hazard Guide

Fire hazards in your home you may not realize

Some fire hazards are easily identifiable, including unattended cigarettes or fire-burning candles, but there are some less obvious dangers we often overlook. Be sure to add these areas to your fire mitigation plan, too.  

Dryer lint

When it comes to fires caused by home appliances, dryers are at the top of the list. Make sure you’re regularly clearing lint from the trap, vent, and exhaust pipe. The lint trap should be cleaned after every cycle, while your vent and exhaust pipes should be at least once a year or when you notice clothes are taking longer to dry. 

Forgetting pots and pans on your stove

The Canadian Red Cross lists unattended stoves as one of the leading causes of home fires in Canada. Turn off your stove if you aren’t there to attend to it, and if you’re leaving something to simmer or stew all day, don’t leave the house with the stove on. Be sure to clean flammable grease and grime off your stove as they can catch fire and ignite nearby combustibles like kitchen cloths and towels, as well as cabinets and curtains. 

REMEMBER: Never use water to put out a grease fire. Turn off the heat source, use a metal lid to cover the fire, and use a fire extinguisher. If the fire feels unmanageable, evacuate and call 9-1-1. 

Overcrowding electrical outlets

Electrical fires can be caused by overloaded outlets. When outlets carry too much electricity, they generate an increased level of internal heat that could ignite a fire. Ideally, appliances should have their own outlet, and never plug more than one heating appliance into a single outlet. 

Dust building up around electrical outlets

Dust bunnies appear well before a spring clean, which is why it’s so important to dust your home regularly. Dust is highly combustible, and when it’s collected near electrical outlets or space heaters, it’s susceptible to igniting and spreading.

Flammable items on or near heat sources

Clothes, furniture, stuffed animals, towels, or other flammable materials could start a fire when placed on or too close to radiators, lamps, stovetops, lights, or space heaters. Double check there is adequate space between flammable belongings and heat sources. 

Leaving styling devices connected

Straighteners, curling irons, and flat irons all have the potential to start a fire if they are left plugged in and unattended. Adopt the habit of unplugging them immediately after use, and look for styling tools that have automatic shut-offs after a certain period of time. 

Christmas trees

Both artificial and real trees present fire hazards. Real trees should be watered daily to avoid becoming dry and highly flammable, especially with lights strung along the branches. Trees should also be kept far away from open fires or space heaters and electrical sockets should not be overloaded with Christmas lights. As noted above, overloading outlets is hazardous and could spread through a flammable Christmas tree quickly. 

Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How often should you test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors? 

We expect our smoke alarms to be ready at any time to alert us of a fire, which is why it’s crucial to check them regularly. Smoke alarms come with manufacturer’s instructions on testing and maintaining your alarm, but First Alert recommends smoke detectors be tested on a monthly basis.

If your alarm is powered by a nine-volt battery, it’s recommended the batteries be changed every six months. Similarly, hardwired smoke detectors should have their backup batteries replaced every six months and be replaced entirely every 10 years, though it’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Carbon monoxide detectors are mandatory for your home in most provinces, and strongly recommended even where it’s not law, as they catch dangerous levels that come from gas or wood-burning fireplaces, gas stoves and ovens, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters. They should ideally be replaced every five to seven years, and checked monthly to ensure they’re working properly. 

The placement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is again regulated by the province or municipality. In Ontario, for example, detectors must be located adjacent to all sleeping areas of the home if you have a fuel-burning appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage. If you’re unsure of your local or provincial laws surrounding carbon monoxide detectors, check with your local fire department.

Fire safety tips for homeowners

Tips for fire safety as a homeowner

It’s important to be aware of all possible escape routes from your home, which is why a personalized home emergency evacuation plan is strongly advised by First Alert, among other fire safety organizations. Though ideally you’ll never have to use it, the plan should be in place and practiced at least twice a year to avoid heightening the panic or confusion in the event of an emergency. 

When making your escape route, consider the following: 

  • identify multiple exits in the event your main exit is blocked during an emergency—First Alert recommends two exit routes from every room in your home;
  • consider keeping escape ladders in rooms on the second floor for additional exit options;
  • assign a meeting spot for the family in the even you’re evacuating separately; and
  • assign one person to assist pets, children, or anyone else who may need help evacuating.

It’s also important for everyone in your home to know how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Think of the acronym PASS. Pull the pin, Aim the nozzle, Squeeze the handle, Sweep the area. First Alert recommends checking your fire extinguishers on a monthly basis to ensure the pressure indicator is pointed in the green zone of the dial. If it’s not, your extinguisher needs to be serviced immediately. They also remind people most fire extinguishers only last five to six years before they need to be refilled, so keeping track of those dates in something like a homeowner’s journal is key. 

Here’s a handy checklist of preventative measures and tips, in addition to your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, on how to proceed in the event of a fire:

  • map out an escape route, making note of anyone who will need assistance and establish a safe place to meet outside of the home where everyone can be accounted for;
  • make sure to completely stub out fire burning candles and any other lit items before leaving them unattended;
  • keep flammable liquids or items like curtains, paper, and clothing at least three feet away from appliances like space heaters or radiators;
  • if there’s a power outage, consider using a flashlight instead of candles; and
  • as well as keeping matches, lighters, and flammable liquids out of reach of children, have regular conversations with them about the dangers of fire and ensure they’re aware of the “stop, drop, and roll” technique should their clothing catch fire.

While you may not be able to prevent fires completely, being prepared in the event of an emergency is key when it comes to keeping you and your family safe. If you’re ever curious about how you can make your home more fire safe, contact your local fire department for details. 


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5 Home Issues You Should Never Ignore

What are some common signs around the home that can lead to more serious problems for you in the future? And how does this affect your quality of life at home, not to mention the resale value?

When you own a home, you get to pick and choose when you want to make aesthetic repairs. Chipped paint in the wall may not be at the top of your priority list, but sometimes things we think can be left alone are actually a sign of larger issues at play. Ignoring these common problems around your home can lead to troubling outcomes, so it’s important to address them before they potentially become more serious—and more costly.

Signs of leaky roof repair and water stains on wall

1. Water stains and warped walls, ceilings, or floors

What starts out as a small water stain or a warped wall or ceiling is often a sign of a leaky roof, dripping pipes, or faulty plumbing. Whether big or small, every leak should be looked into as soon as possible. 

“The first thing to check for are fixtures (faucets, sinks, toilets) then check your bathroom showers or tubs by running water through them,” says Paul Rodriguez of Intelligent Contracting Solutions, Ltd. in Toronto, Ontario. “Water intrusion into the home is a problem that cannot be ignored. It can lead to issues that will be expensive to remediate. If you’re unsure, call a plumber right away!” 

Water spots, warped or missing shingles, or water-damaged exterior walls are all signs of roof leaks. If you suspect a leak on your roof, you can check in your attic for water damage or mould around the rafters and roof sheathing. Leaks can also be identified by going onto the roof itself, but in this scenario you should call in a roofing professional to do so. 

Without being inspected and repaired, leaks can lead to water damage to your drywall, insulation, and flooring. As a result, mould, and mildew springs up. Ensure you quickly identify where the leak is coming from and call in a plumber or roofing professional (depending on where the leak originated) to get it repaired. The longer the leak lasts, the more likely structural damage and mould can occur, negatively affecting the health and resale value of your home.

Foundation Cracks You Should Know

2. Mould and mildew

Any time water or excess moisture enters your home, toxic mould can grow. Signs to look out for include musty, stale-smelling air, and small black specks, especially in your basement, attic, or around damp areas in your house, such as your laundry room. You may also feel your own health being affected with sinus, cold, and other symptoms. Don’t forget to check for mould and mildew if you’ve recently had to repair a water stain as mentioned above. 

“Don’t ignore leaks, they can lead to mould,” Rodriguez cautions. “This can have serious health impacts. If you notice mould behind drywall, inside cabinets, or another place where a leak has been happening, call an abatement company after having dealt with the leak with a plumber.”

It’s important to address mould growth before it spreads.You’ll need to identify why they’re occurring, and what repairs need to be done to prevent it. According to Health Canada, household dampness and mould can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation, worsening of asthma symptoms, bronchitis, and eczema—all depending on the species, severity, and length of exposure. 

Potential buyers would absolutely take this into consideration, learn of the cost of repairs needed to stop the issue, and then take this into account when submitting bids.

Signs to look out for Pests and rodents

3. Cracks in your home’s foundation

In Canada, our homes become subjected to extreme changes in weather, such as heavy wind,storms and relentless freeze-thaw cycles. Because of this, small hairline fractures may occur in the concrete around the outside of your house. These small cracks are common, but it’s important to look out for bulging or buckling in the concrete, or cracks wider than about the width of a pencil. These can be signs of more significant problems which require repairs to your foundation—no small task If you do see some cracks, but you’re not sure whether it’s time to call in a structural engineer or foundation contractor, Rodriguez says you can monitor them on your own—at first.

“Take a marker and make two lines across from each other, on opposite sides of the crack. Measure between the two lines, record the measurements. Come back in three weeks and measure again. If the gap has increased, call a structural engineer for an assessment. Settlement in new construction can happen, but drastic changes can mean something is wrong with the foundation such as footings or drainage.” 

If the gap hasn’t widened, there’s no need to address them unless you want to for aesthetic reasons. Just keep an eye on them and make sure they don’t grow. Without being addressed, these larger cracks can grow, allowing water and salt to enter the concrete and further erode the steel rebar within the foundation of your home. When this rebar erodes, it threatens the durability of your home and can lead to potential rotting and damage to the internal structure of your home. 

Other signs to look out for that signify your home’s foundation is shifting include cracks in the paint inside your home, difficulty opening and closing your doors and windows, or uneven flooring. Though these issues may be harmless—door frames can shift due to humidity in the summer—they may also be signs that one of the joists that support your flooring has rotted or is broken, requiring a replacement. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to get professional advice. 

Foundation issues can significantly affect the resale value of your home as a new owner would have to pay for repairs. Cracks in a foundation are something home inspectors look for, and if a home inspection is included as a condition of your home’s sale, it could mean the deal won’t go through. 

Electrical Issue You Should Know

4. Pests and rodents

Pests and rodents can cause significant damage to your home, termites being one of the most destructive. Aside from the very unpleasant idea of having critters running around your home, rodents can cause damage you may not see right away.

“It’s important to have your home protected from the intrusion of rodents,” Rodriguez explains. “They can destroy insulation, wiring, and other components behind walls or in your attic. Inspect your home yearly for gaps around soffit and fascia, shingles or missing roofing materials. There are companies who specialize in removing rodents, squirrels or raccoons, as well as making sure they stay out.”

When it comes to insects, they can cause structural damage to your drywall and baseboards.

“Pests can be worse [than rodents] and detrimental to your wellbeing,” Rodriguez tells us. “ Identify what these pests may be in your area and call a specialist to treat and prevent intrusion.”

Signs to look out for include “termite tunnels,” which are small black or brown stick-looking tunnels made from wood, soil, and termite saliva. Small piles of shed wings, a significant amount of dead insects, mouse waste, chewed wires, or ripped-up paper, cardboard, or fabric are also indicators that you have a pest problem. 

It’s important to get an exterminator in your home and identify how these pests are getting in to prevent future problems. The longer you leave these insects and rodents alone, the more time they will have to breed and cause even more damage, lowering the resale value of your property.

5. Electrical overload

Do you own an older home that hasn’t had its electrical wiring inspected? There may be some tell-tale signs your home is experiencing electrical overload.

“Flickering lights or a breaker always tripping when running multiple appliances can be signs of shoddy electrical work or overloaded circuits,” Rodriguez says. “Ignoring these signs can lead to appliance damage, or worse, an electrical fire. Don’t wait, call a licensed electrical contractor to assess and repair any damage or improper wiring. Make sure an ESA [Electrical Safety Authority] permit is pulled and work is inspected. This way you can ensure that the work is done by code.”

Rewiring an entire home can be costly but is necessary and should be done as soon as possible by a licensed professional. When potential buyers have your home inspected, these wiring issues will definitely affect your house’s resale value.

If you ignore little problems, they become big. Don’t write off these signs of potential problems that can cost you more in the future. 

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