If you’ve spent any time looking at property in Vancouver, you already know it’s expensive. Like really expensive. Moreover, if you’re lucky enough to find something reasonable, you could well end up in a bidding war with a half dozen other would-be homeowners.
Empty Condos in Vancouver’s Downtown
Part of the reason attributed to this shortage is foreign investment. According to Global News, 15% of Vancouver’s downtown condos are empty, but as long as they’re being snapped up, prices will stay high. However, mayoral candidate Meena Wong has proposed a creative solution.
The big problem is while absentee owners keep housing prices high, they don’t contribute to the local economy. Neighborhoods dwindle and local businesses sit empty. To help overcome this hurdle and reign in investment property trends, Wong has proposed levying a fee on property owners who don’t actually live in residences or rent them out.
Penalizing Absentee Homeowners
The Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) candidate says far too many properties are sitting vacant, and some sort of penalty is needed to help make housing in the city more accessible and affordable.
There are currently no details on how much the surcharge would be or how it would be enforced, but Wong has suggested it might be possible to keep a database of how properties are being used—or not.
According to Wong, the proposed solution means that absentee owners will either contribute to affordable housing or to the city.
“If they’re not going to occupy it and then rent it out, then pay more so we can use those monies to build and develop affordable housing here,” she said.
The idea of penalizing absentee homeowners has come up before. In 2012, correspondent Ian Young tackled the idea in the South China Morning Post.
“As a capitalist free market, I cannot control who can come [to Vancouver], or who cannot come,” Wong told the newspaper. “But I do say, if you are going to use Vancouver as a resort, then you are going to pay more.”
The absentee homeowner’s fee is still in its impetus, but it seems to be growing in popularity. Do you think it’s a good idea? Tell us!