Renovation Tax Credits to Aid Ontario Seniors

Homeowners who made age friendly renovations in the past year can get a bit of a tax break, and so will those homeowners and tenants who are planning future.

The new Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit passed in the legislature on Tuesday.

It applies retroactively to any permanent home modifications made after October 1, 2011, that help a person aged 65 and over with accessibility or mobility, such as ramps, walk-in bathtubs and stairlifts.

It covers up to 15 per cent of the cost of improvements to a dwelling, up to an annual maximum of $1,500. Homeowners and tenants age 65 and over, as well as people living at home with a senior, are eligible for the tax credit.

“Those are often cost-prohibitive (renovations),” said John Norton, director of rehabilitation services at Windsor Regional Hospital. The tax credit will help, he said, and it will certainly make a difference to those who are living on a fixed income.

Norton helps patients who are discharged from the hospital figure out what physical changes to make to their homes so they can still live there.

Easier household changes would be the addition of grab bars in the bathtub or shower, he said, but more extensive – and costly – changes would be lowering countertops so someone who uses a wheelchair can still use the kitchen.

What some homeowners will do is make changes in increments, Norton said, and that can also help lighten the load on their wallet. For example, an older person might need only grab bars to start, and a few years down the line, when they need to switch to a walkin bathtub, will have that installed.

But local experts warn that it’s important to make sure those renovations are designed and carried out by qualified professionals.
“There are some really bad front porches and ramps,” said Bonnie Pacuta, a Windsor based social worker who helps families navigate the patchwork system of public and private home-care services and support programs.

Building a wheelchair ramp is not the same as a standard front porch job, Pacuta said, and it requires careful planning and an experienced builder.

It’s important for homeowners to do their homework, she said, adding that she always recommends getting three work estimates.

Source: The Windsor Star

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