Empty Homes Tax registers 8,481 vacant, exempt or undeclared homes in Vancouver

Joannah Connolly / Vancouver Courier

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Most of the unoccupied homes declared under Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax were condos.
Photograph By DAN TOULGOET

Following the extended deadline for Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax ending March 5, the owners of nearly 99 per cent of the city’s homes filed declarations, the City of Vancouver announced March 7.

There were 183,911 property status declarations submitted, out of the stated 186,043 homes in the city.

Of the total number of homes, 177,562 – or 95.6 per cent – were declared as occupied (either a principal residence or long-term tenanted).

Another 6,349 were declared as unoccupied or under-used residential properties. However, that number includes all homes that are exempt from the tax – such as properties undergoing renovation or redevelopment, the title was transferred during the year, or the owner was in a hospital, or a long-term or care facility. When asked how many of homes were declared, the City of Vancouver told the Courier, “The number of exempt declarations will not be confirmed until audits have been conducted and complaints for 2017 have been submitted. These specific declaration numbers will be released, along with the revenue raised by the tax, in an Annual Report… in fall of 2018.”

The 2,132 residential properties in the city that remain undeclared are deemed empty and will be subject to the tax, as well as an additional $250 fine for non-declaration.

Empty and deemed-empty properties will be sent a tax bill in mid-March with payment due by April 16. The bill is one per cent of the home’s assessed value as of July 2017.

Most of the 8,481 empty, underused or undeclared properties are condos, at 60.6 per cent. Single-family homes made up 33.5 per cent of this figure and other properties 5.9 per cent.

The City also issued a map showing the density of empty homes per neighbourhood. The largest number of unoccupied or underused homes was in Downtown Vancouver, but this was not the highest percentage because of the large number of homes in the area. The West End and Shaughnessy recorded the highest percentages of unoccupied, underused or undeclared properties, both more than 8 per cent of the total homes in the neighbourhood.

Percentage and number of unoccupied and under-utilized residential properties per neighbourhood in Vancouver as of March 2018. Image: City of Vancouver

Mayor Gregor Robertson said, “Vancouver housing needs to be for homes first, not just treated as a commodity. We brought in an Empty Homes Tax because Vancouver has a near-zero vacancy rate and many people are struggling to find a place to rent. Thank you to the 183,911 Vancouver homeowners who submitted their declarations on time.”

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