THE number of residential properties in Vancouver declared vacant in 2019 under the Empty Homes Tax program has gone down 14.6 per cent from 2018 and 30 per cent in total from the first year of the program (2017), with the continued trend of previously empty homes being returned to the rental market.
“The Empty Homes Tax is working. Our second set of year-over-year data clearly shows we’re returning more empty homes to the rental market,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Friday.
“While we’re moving in the right direction, I want to see even more empty homes rented out and that’s why we’re increasing the tax to 1.25 per cent for the 2020 tax year. Homes are for people, not speculation, and I hope this higher penalty will provide even more of an incentive for owners of empty properties to make sure they are occupied,” Stewart added.
As of the February 4, 2020 declaration deadline, 787 properties were declared vacant in 2019, compared to 922 at the same point in 2018, and 1,131 in 2017. Again this year, 97 per cent of residential property owners made their property status declaration by the deadline.
The geographic distribution of vacant properties in Vancouver in 2019 based on declarations to date is similar to last year, with the largest concentration in the West End and downtown areas. The total number of residential properties in the city overall increased 1.6 per cent year over year; mostly attributed to a three per cent increase in the number of condominium units. A map showing the distribution of properties declared vacant by neighbourhood can be viewed on the City’s website.
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 2019 assessed taxable value. Empty Homes Tax payments are due by April 16, 2020.
Starting February 7, property owners who missed the deadline can still make a late declaration after they pay a $250 late fee (or dispute the bylaw fine).
The 2019 property status statistics (and the associated revenue) will change as the City’s audit program continues, late declarations are made, 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 to email@example.com or by calling 1-833-554-2323.
The Empty Homes Tax is one of the tools being used to address the Vancouver’s rental housing crisis. Net revenues from the tax are being reinvested into affordable housing initiatives in the city.