Insight: REIBC blog > Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax

Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax

posted on 10:07 AM, July 5, 2019

Vancouver’s recently enacted empty homes tax on vacant or deemed-vacant residential property is intended to encourage residential property owners to live in, rent, develop, or sell their properties instead of holding them for investment or renting them for nightly or short-term stays.

“Property is deemed ‘vacant’ if it is not either the principal residence of an individual or “occupied” by a tenant or subtenant for terms of at least 30 days at a time for a sufficient portion of the year,” explains Ask a Lawyer columnist John McLachlan. “The tax will apply if the property is ‘vacant’ for more than 180 days in a calendar year. The property will also be deemed to be ‘vacant’ if the property owner fails or neglects to file a declaration as to occupancy each year by the prescribed date.”

Drawing from the City of Vancouver’s first annual report following the introduction of the empty homes tax, McLachlan reports the tax’s earnings: “… of the 186,000 homes in Vancouver, 2,538 of them were vacant for the purposes of the empty homes tax. The City estimates that it will receive approximately $38 million in total revenue under the tax and that approximately $21 million had been collected as of November 2018.”

Property owners in Vancouver must make an annual declaration to determine a property’s vacancy status. Last year, 2,132 property owners failed to make a property status declaration and subsequently saw their properties subject to the tax.

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To read more about the tax, including the dispute process, see McLachlan’s “Ask a Lawyer” column in the Spring 2019 edition of Input. Download Spring 2019

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