In an effort to address the housing affordability crisis, the city of Vancouver introduced a vacant property tax last year. It raised $32 million to subsidize affordable housing and returned thousands of unused homes back to locals.
Vacant property tax
The vacant property tax is a levy that is charged on residential properties that are considered to be empty. It is designed to help free up homes that can be rented out, as well as to prevent condo flippers from buying and then selling homes to people who cannot afford to live in them.
The tax was introduced in West Vancouver in 2018 to try and address the issue of empty homes in the city. According to the City of Vancouver, approximately 10% of all homes in West Vancouver are considered to be vacant at any given time, and many of these homes could be rented out on a long term basis.
Since its introduction, the vacant property tax in West Vancouver has helped free up a lot of homes that would otherwise be left unused and allow them to be rented out for the long term. While the city claims this tax has helped increase rental availability in West Vancouver, it is not a silver bullet that will solve all of the city’s rental issues.
However, it is helping to stomp out the speculative home buying and selling that has been causing so much harm in the Vancouver real estate market. The vacancy tax is also helping to ensure that homes are occupied by people who are able to afford them, rather than by foreign investors who can’t afford to pay high rents.
As the tax has been in place, it has raised a significant amount of revenue for the government of BC. In the 2021 tax year, the government collected a total of $78 million in revenue from the vacancy and speculation tax.
A large portion of this revenue came from foreign homeowners and satellite families that were required to pay the vacancy and speculation tax. About 57% of the vacancy and speculation tax that was paid in the 2021 tax year came from these types of owners.
If you own a home that is considered to be vacant, you will receive a letter from the city asking you to make a declaration on whether or not your home is considered to be a primary residence. If you choose to ignore this notice, you will be subject to a $250 bylaw fine.
Vacancy tax exemptions
West Vancouver is home to a large number of vacant properties. With an average vacancy rate of just 1.0% for one-bedroom condos and 1.5% for two-bedroom apartments, this puts a strain on rental availability and affordability.
To try to address the problem, the city has introduced a vacant property tax. This levy will only be collected from homeowners who leave their homes empty for more than six months, and the proceeds will go towards affordable housing initiatives.
Residential property owners must complete a property status declaration in order to determine whether their property is subject to the empty home tax or not. This will help ensure that homeowners return their homes to the rental market and avoid paying the levy.
There are many exemptions from the empty home tax in Vancouver. These include principal residences, homes that are rented at least six months per year, and second homes that are not owned by the same owner.
In addition, some homes are exempt if they are occupied by an employee or a family member for a period of time. These are called non-arm’s length tenants. These individuals must be a BC resident and at least 19 years old.
The empty home tax is also used to fund other housing-related initiatives in the city. Moreover, the tax raises money for affordable housing projects and discourages foreign buyers from purchasing a property in Vancouver.
However, it is important to note that some of these exemptions only apply to a certain type of property. This is why it is best to check with the municipality where you live to find out which exemptions are available for your specific situation.
Vacant property taxes have become more common in cities across Canada over the past few years, and it is important to know how to avoid them. For example, the city of Vancouver recently introduced a one-percent vacant home tax that will be effective from January 1, 2020 to March 2, 2021.
This is intended to encourage property owners to return their empty homes to the rental market and help improve affordability in areas where rental rates are low. In order to get a vacancy exemption, residential property owners must complete a property status declaration every year.
Vacancy tax penalties
Vacancy taxes are a way to help boost housing availability by taxing owners who leave their properties empty. Some cities, including Oakland and Paris, have enacted this type of tax on vacant apartments in multifamily buildings, second homes, and even speculative real estate bought by foreign investors.
The tax is based on the assessed value of the property. Owners must make a declaration of their property status every year. This will include the value of their property and state whether it has been left vacant for six months or more during the previous fiscal year.
If the property is occupied for at least six months of the year, the owner will not be required to pay the vacancy tax. However, if the property is vacant for more than six months due to an owner’s death or to an inactive or absent owner, the owner will be required to pay the tax.
Homeowners can also apply for an exemption from paying the vacancy tax, which is available to owners who have been displaced and have a permanent address elsewhere in Canada. The exemption is only available for a maximum of 12 months.
In Vancouver, the vacancy tax was introduced alongside the regional government of British Columbia in 2017. It has raised $231 million over the past three years for affordable-housing projects and other programs.
Currently, the rate is 1% of the property’s assessed value. This tax is imposed on all residential properties that are not occupied for at least six months. It applies to all Canadian and foreign owners of residential property in the city.
Residents of Vancouver who own a home or condominium may qualify for an exemption if the property is not zoned for residential use. For this to happen, they will need to contact the BC Assessment Authority and ask them to reclassify their property as a commercial or industrial property.
If an owner wants to sell their property, they will need to provide their buyers with a declaration of the property status and ensure that the property is not occupied for more than six months during the previous fiscal year. The buyers will be held responsible for the vacancy tax if they do not receive this transfer of legal ownership exemption within 90 days from the date of sale.
Vacant homes tax
In response to the growing housing affordability crisis in Vancouver, Mayor Kennedy Stewart and his administration introduced the vacant homes tax. The first of its kind in Canada, the vacant homes tax is applied to owners of residential and non-residential properties that are deemed to be empty.
Vacant home taxes are designed to discourage homeowners from leaving their homes unoccupied for long periods of time and to encourage homeowners to rent out their properties instead. They have been shown to reduce the number of homes that are empty, as well as increase the amount of money that is put towards affordable housing initiatives.
The city’s vacant home tax was first implemented in 2017 at a rate of 1 percent of the property’s assessed value. In the tax year 2021, it was increased to 3 percent.
While some homeowners disagree with the tax, it has been proven to be effective in reducing the number of vacant homes and contributing to the city’s affordable housing crisis. The revenue is also used to provide grants to nonprofit housing providers that help people buy or build their own homes.
Another tax that homeowners in West Vancouver may be surprised to learn about is the provincial speculation and vacancy tax. Although West Vancouver’s population is one-quarter to a tenth the size of other top-paying communities, the District of West Vancouver paid more than $6.5 million in the provincial speculation and vacancy tax last year.
Since the introduction of the speculation and vacancy tax, many homeowners have been looking for ways to avoid paying it. While many are able to avoid the tax by renting their properties, others are not.
Fortunately, there are some ways that you can avoid the empty home tax in West Vancouver. The first thing you should do is determine the status of your property. You should make sure that it is occupied by a tenant for six months or more.
Once you have determined that your home is occupied, you should apply for an exemption from the vacant home tax. Applicants should submit proof that they have a tenant in place, such as a lease or a signed agreement to sell.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.