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Philly Landlords, Businesses Balk at Steep Hikes in Property, U&O Taxes

The Philadelphia Inquirer

For about a decade, Cambodian immigrant Henry Khounh ran his 1540 Hardware on East Passyunk Avenue, grinding keys and selling snow shovels.

Then last year, his landlord, the nonprofit Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp., informed him that the city had hiked the taxes on the storefront property and about $3,000 worth would be passed to him as part of his lease. Khounh did the math—$3,000 was a lot of keys. His lease was up and he relocated about three blocks away.

“Honestly, I couldn’t afford it,” Khounh said Wednesday. “That’s the bottom line.”

Nancy Alperin describes similar sticker shock over her 2017 tax bill that more than tripled the assessed value on her two-story commercial property on South Juniper Street, bringing her tax bill to “$22,000 and change.”


“Everybody knows that taxes go up. Real estate taxes are a fact of life and necessary to fund schools and cities. But you can’t do a ‘gotcha,’” Peter F. Kelsen, a lawyer at Blank Rome who has litigated real estate assessment cases in Philadelphia for decades, said about the Philadelphia assessment hikes. Kelsen represents landlords who own 290 properties.

But, Kelsen said, real estate tax hikes “need to be managed so that from one year to the next, a property owner does not experience an unexpected huge increase in taxes that must then be passed through to tenants and has not been budgeted for by the landlord owner.”

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“Philly landlords, Businesses Balk at Steep Hikes in Property, U&O Taxes,” by Bob Fernandez was published in The Philadelphia Inquirer on April 13, 2018.