15 per cent fewer properties declared vacant
THE number of Vancouver properties declared vacant in 2018 under the Empty Homes Tax program has gone down 15 per cent from 2017, with the majority of previously empty homes having been returned to the rental market.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said on Wednesday: “The year-over-year numbers are very encouraging. The main objective of Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax is to influence property owners to put their empty properties on the rental market and the data shows that is happening.
“Council has also asked staff to look at improvements to the administration of the Empty Homes Tax-including a possible increase in the tax rate-to make it even more effective in driving additional affordable housing to the market.”
As of the February 4 declaration deadline, 922 properties were declared vacant in 2018, compared to 1,085 declared vacant by last year’s extended deadline of March 5, 2018, a 15 per cent decrease. Of those properties now declared occupied, the majority (53 per cent) changed to being tenanted.
Properties that were declared vacant or deemed vacant by the City (if a declaration was not received by the deadline), will be issued a bill for one per cent of the property’s 2018 assessed taxable value. Empty Homes Tax payments are due by April 12.
This year, 97 per cent of property owners made their property status declaration by the deadline. Starting February 7, property owners will have the option to make a late declaration online, after they pay a $250 penalty; instructions are being mailed to property owners. The ability to make a late declaration is new for this year, and should help to streamline the complaints process.
The geographic distribution of vacant properties in Vancouver in 2018 based on the declarations to date is similar to last year, with the largest concentration in the downtown area. A map showing the distribution of properties declared vacant by neighbourhood can be viewed on the City’s website.
The 2018 property status statistics will change as the City’s audit program continues, those who have yet to declare make their late declarations, and property owner appeals and complaints are received and resolved.
The City of Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax is separate from the provincial government’s Speculation and Vacancy Tax; inquiries regarding the province’s tax may be directed firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-833-554-2323.
As part of the City’s Housing Vancouver Strategy, the Empty Homes Tax is one of the tools being used to address the city’s rental housing crisis. Net revenues from the tax are also being reinvested into affordable housing initiatives in the city.