Vancouver City council has voted in favour of increasing the city’s Empty Homes Tax to 3% in 2021 after Mayor Kennedy Stewart put forward the motion.
“I’m so glad that Council backed my plan to stand up for renters,” said Stewart. “This groundbreaking tool has helped move thousands of homes back onto the rental market to help house our neighbours, but there are still too many homes that remain empty.”
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As such, by tripling the tax to 3% since the tax launched, we’re sending an even stronger message that homes are for people, not speculation,” he added.
The Vancouver Empty Homes Tax (EHT) property status declarations for the 2020 tax year are due February 2, 2021.
Each residential property is required to make one declaration, with instructions being mailed out to all property owners over the coming weeks. Declarations can be made online at the City of Vancouver’s website.
Launched in 2017, the EHT was established to incentivize homeowners to make their empty and under-utilized properties available as rental homes.
According to the city, there has been a 25% reduction in the number of vacant properties recorded between 2017 and 2019. Of the 1,989 properties declared vacant in 2018, 41% were converted to occupied status last year.
To date, the municipal government has raised $61.3 million in revenue from the EHT to support new affordable housing, including $25 million towards the 2019-2022 Community Housing Incentive Program, which provides grants to non-profit housing operators to improve the affordability of social housing and co-op housing projects.
As of 2019, there were 192,117 homes within Vancouver’s jurisdiction, including 132,042 homes registered as the principal residence and 54,050 homes as tenanted. About 1% of the homes were deemed vacant, and 4,132 homes were exempt.
The tax for the 2020 vacancy period will increase to 1.25% of the property’s assessed taxable value, up from 1% in 2019.
The EHT should not be confused for the provincial government’s separate speculation and vacancy tax, which also requires an annual declaration.
With files from Kenneth Chan