Initial numbers from the 2019 Empty Homes Tax declarations in Vancouver show almost 15% fewer properties declared vacant than the previous year, according to the city, something that Mayor Kennedy Stewart said is a sign the tax is working as it should.
“The Empty Homes Tax is working,” said Kennedy. “Our second set of year-over-year data clearly shows we’re returning more empty homes to the rental market.”
According to the city, the number of residential properties in Vancouver declared vacant in 2019 under the Empty Homes Tax program has gone down 14.6% from 2018 and 30% in total from the first year of the program (2017).
“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% for the 2020 tax year,” said Kennedy. “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.”
The city said that 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. The city also noted that 97% of residential property owners made their property status declaration by the deadline.
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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).
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.