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Many cities in Ontario struggle to keep their downtown areas vibrant and attractive. Having businesses occupy buildings and storefronts presents an image of growth and success that may encourage customers to frequent those areas. It may also attract other businesses and motivate entrepreneurs to establish their companies locally. Empty storefronts do not project that image of stability. Because of this, Toronto is making some changes that may affect owners of commercial real estate within the city.

For more than 15 years, people who owned commercial property were granted rebates if that property was vacant. These rebates were meant to get property owners through the early 2000s when the economy was bad and businesses suffered. A person who owned commercial property may have had the misfortune to rent it to a business that could not endure the hard times. When those businesses folded, many property owners had difficulty finding new tenants.

However, in some areas of the city, storefronts have been vacant for decades. Some of the landlords do not live in the area and seem to have little interest in filling the voids. In fact, city officials hope that by ending those outdated rebates, property owners will be motivated to fill the buildings quickly or offer them for sale in a booming market for commercial real estate. Cutting the rebates will save the city nearly $22 million.

With the city of Toronto looking to attract businesses to the area, business and property owners may be seriously considering investigating some of those vacant properties for their new offices. A lawyer can review one's lease and clarify its implications. Whether a property owner in Ontario is looking to lease, sell or purchase real estate, the advice of a lawyer can eliminate any potential errors or disputes that could negatively affect one's business.

Source: CBC News, "John Tory says scrapping rebate for vacant businesses will save Toronto $22M a year", John Rieti, Jan. 16, 2017

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