Iqaluit man loses home over unpaid taxes and lot lease

Rick Bradley forced to sell house to avoid city seizure and tax auction


For his entire 64 years, Rick Bradley has lived in two places, Toronto and Iqaluit – but next summer he’ll be looking for a new home.

A few months ago Bradley had to sell his 22-year-old home in Iqaluit to raise $170,000 in back-taxes and lot-lease costs owed to the City of Iqaluit.

“I like it here,” said Bradley. “Now I’m being forced out. I’m being forced out whether I like it or not.”

Bradley’s 1970s-era home is modest compared with the plush standards set by Iqaluit’s more recently-built housing.

It’s a metal-clad building resembling a large sealift container, brought down from Upper Base more than 20 years ago. Due to its relative age – by Iqaluit standards – and its unique origin, Bradley calls his home “historic.”

But it’s not his anymore.

“I took a bit of a beating,” Bradley said. “It was a distress sale.”

Bradley had to sell his home to pay property tax and land lease arrears. If he hadn’t done that, his home would have reverted to the city’s ownership, and then been sold at a land auction, such as the one that the city is organizing for Sept. 15 to collect unpaid property taxes.

Instead of losing his home in that way, Bradley decided to sell his house to someone who would give him the money ahead of time, and then allow him to straighten out the title, and then to transfer ownership.

Bradley asked to remain in his house until next summer, when he retires from his job as cook at the Baffin Regional Hospital.

Bradley hoped to wait until after his retirement to sell his house, perhaps to a local developer, because his home is the last on a street that is now zoned for commercial development.

“I didn’t want to sell,” Bradley said.

But because he owed so much money, and the title to the building was in question, Bradley had to sell.

Now he doesn’t have a choice about what his retirement years hold. Next summer he’ll have to leave Iqaluit, and he won’t have any money to show for his home.

But how did Bradley rack up more than $100,000 in debt?

Bradley said he was all paid up until 1990. Then his wife, who is now deceased, became sick, and a lot of his money went towards repeated trips to Ottawa, where she could receive necessary medical treatment.

“I was negligent,” Bradley admitted. “But part of it was that I had no choice. It wasn’t willful.”

During those years, Bradley said he received assessment notices, but he said he didn’t realize where non-payment would lead.

And he said he had no idea that his old land-lease expired at the same time, forcing him to negotiate a more expensive equity lease.

“They let the land lease expire without advising me,” Bradley said.

Bradley said he tried to strike a deal with the municipality, so that he could reimburse the money he owed.

“I told them what I could afford. I would make a direct deposit off my pay, but they weren’t interested. Nobody was interested in making an effort,” he said.

Under duress, Bradley sold – and he says feels as if he was screwed by the system, but with “no petroleum jelly.”

“Legally I had nothing,” he said.

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