Riding the heels of the foreign homeowners tax, Mayor Gregor Robertson has just revealed a plan to implement a vacant home tax.
It’s a move calculated to generate approximately $2 million dollars, but the real initiative is to solve the ongoing rental difficulties triggered by Vancouver’s unaffordable housing prices.
“Vancouver’s dangerously low vacancy rate is putting our renters in crisis. Our proposed empty homes tax is first and foremost about bringing rental homes back into the market,” said Robertson.
“We need to ensure the best use of all our housing. Empty and under-utilized investment properties are holding back badly needed homes for thousands of renters who are struggling to find a secure and accessible place to live in a tight rental market.”
Robertson introduced his proposal at City Hall on Wednesday, September 14th, along with Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, the city’s general manager of community services. Although the exact rate of the proposed vacant home tax is currently unknown, it could be up to 2% of the assessed value of each home.
Self declaration of empty houses
Owners will have to declare their homes’ status as part of the property tax process in 2017. The tax is expected to come into effect in 2018. The city will back up the process with a high level of audits and a complaint-response process that’s expected to keep people honest.
The vacant home tax was originally proposed in June when a city-commissioned report found that the rental vacancy rate in the city was 0.6 percent, despite an estimate that 10,800 homes and condos were sitting empty.
“Some people who can afford it will not want to rent out their properties and they are going to make a generous contribution to affordable housing in Vancouver,” said Robertson.
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