No matter how much you pay in rent, you're likely to wish you were paying less. This can lead you to want a line-item listing of what your rent is actually paying for. Though the specifics for a property will vary from lease to lease, the question of property taxes can complicate what's already a complicated situation.
Making sure that property taxes are paid is an obligation that ultimately falls on the shoulders of the property owner. If you have a residential lease, you may be indirectly paying property taxes as part of your rental payments. But if you have a commercial lease, you may be responsible for certain operating costs, which can include property taxes, although the property owner is legally liable for paying the property taxes.
How Property Taxes Work
Property taxes are assessed by a local or state government and charged to the person who owns a property. If your landlord pays on a mortgage for the property you occupy, the tax payments are most likely included in the mortgage payment. It's not illegal for your landlord to make you pay property taxes directly to the bank or government, but it's needlessly complicated and very rare.
Your Landlord's Money
When you pay your rent each month, that payment becomes your landlord's money. She can spend it on a mortgage, on the property taxes or on a new car. You have no control over what your landlord does with it. You just have to pay whatever amount your lease specifies.
A commercial landlord may give you a lease that includes "triple-net" payments in addition to basic rent. Those payments cover real estate taxes, building insurance and maintenance of common areas. In this case, this common arrangement will mean you have to pay your landlord's property taxes.
Changing the Lease
Your landlord cannot unilaterally change your lease agreement to increase your rent to reflect increased property tax rates. Long-term leases often have escalators built in to them that raise the rent periodically for just that kind of situation. Most residential leases are only a year long, and you can expect your renewed lease to raise your rent if your landlord's tax burden has grown.
Yes, your landlord can make you pay property taxes. In most residential cases, you'll have no idea whether or not he's using your money for property taxes -- and it doesn't really matter as long as the rent is affordable for you.
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