All of Vancouver's empty homes subject to new tax

By SmartCoverage Team on March 22nd, 2018

In Vancouver, a city with close to a 0% vacancy rate, homes sitting vacant for no solid reason will be slammed with a new tax as the city attempts to free up housing and generate revenue for those in need.

As far back as May 2017, Andy Yan, Vancouver city planner and director, said the empty home debacle has been an occurrence in the city for over 10 years. “The privilege of owning a home in Vancouver seems to include not living in it,” he said.

According to HuffPost, nearly 8,500 homes were declared vacant or “underused” once the deadline to submit proof of residency passed earlier this month.

This type of empty home tax is a first in Canada. The homeowner will be charged 1% of their home’s value in an attempt to collect revenue that can go toward fighting the city’s rental crisis.

Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson explains that “Vancouver housing needs to be for homes first, not just treated as a commodity.”

Most of the city submitted their declarations of occupancy on time, the 2% that failed to do so will now face the financial consequences.

Types of vacant homes

What types of dwellings saw the most vacancy, you ask? A majority 60% of the units were represented as condominiums while about 35% of them consisted of single-family homes; the rest were “multi-family and other types of homes.”

Those properties deemed vacant or undeclared will be served with the vacancy tax bill soon, and payment will be due April 16th, the city said. It is unclear how the exemptions will work, in terms of the “underutilized” homes, where occupation or living occurs loosely enough to avoid the “vacant” title.

Homeowners will need to submit appeals in order to have their vacancy declaration reversed. Numbers and revenue will be revealed come November.

“The provincial government signalled in its budget last month that it intended to introduce a tax on homeowners who do not pay income taxes in B.C. and leave their units vacant. The plan means that some owners of empty Vancouver homes could end up paying both a city and a provincial tax.

A 2016 city-commissioned report analyzed electricity use and found about 10,800 Vancouver homes were left vacant for more than a year, most of them condominiums.”

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