It's about to get costlier to leave a Vancouver home vacant

by Steve Randall29 Nov 2019

Leaving a home vacant in Vancouver will cost owners more over the next three years.

Vancouver City Council has voted for an increase in its Empty Homes Tax (EHT) in each of the next three years; it will rise from the current 1.0% to 1.25% in 2020 with provision for further 0.25 percentage point increases in 2021 and 2022.

And with the heavier burden on those leaving homes unoccupied comes a new focus on enforcement. Mayor Stewart Kennedy has urged city staff to use some of the increased revenue from the EHT to step up action against those who must pay.

Revenue will also be allocated to programs to provide affordable homes for households with incomes of less than $50,000 per year.

"I'm pleased that Council supported my call for a phased increase to the Empty Homes Tax of 25% each year for the next three years," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. "While the ultimate goal is to add more pressure on empty homes to be filled, any additional revenues will now be used to provide housing for Vancouver's most vulnerable residents."

Councillors also approved a new exemption where, in certain circumstances, development and tenancy exemptions can be combined to meet the six-month occupancy threshold to be exempt from paying the tax.

EHT is working

The City’s stats show that since the EHT was launched in 2016, the program has created $39.7 million in net revenue to fund affordable housing initiatives across the city. There has also been an increase in occupied properties and a decrease in vacant properties.

The City Council has asked staff to report on options to deal with those who make a late EHT declaration in good faith after deadlines to request a review or make a complaint have passed.

And homeowners will now have 90 days to submit a complaint to request a review of the levy on their property.

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