City Issues Stern Notice over Empty Homes Tax

All Vancouver homeowners have until February 2 to declare home use or face stiff annual fine – but there’s some good news
Joannah Connolly
November 20, 2017

Along with advance 2018 tax notices, all owners of homes within Vancouver’s city limits have been warned that they have until February 2 to declare the use of their homes or be charged the steep Empty Home Tax.

The new tax is applied any “empty or under-utilized” home in Vancouver as of the beginning of January 2017, but is payable after February 2018 for the previous year’s use.

Even if the home is occupied as a principal residence all year round, the declaration must be completed for the owner to be exempt from the tax. This means that every Vancouver home owner must register their home’s use, no matter whether it is empty or not.

On homes used for less than six months of the year, either as a personal residence or rented out, the owners will have to pay the city 1% of their home’s assessed value, on an annual basis. For example, an empty or under-used $1 million home will be subject to $10,000 a year in tax. However, there are several exemptions available, even if the home is empty or under-used.

All homeowners received the below message at the top of their latest advance property tax notices. 

City of Vancouver Empty Homes

Homes that are rented out for more than six months of the year are only exempt if the tenancies were more than 30 days’ duration, and tenants’ names and dates must be declared. This means that any short-term-rented homes are not eligible for exemption, even if they were occupied for more than six months of the year.

One anonymous owner, who owns a Yaletown condo but lives mostly in Alberta to take care of his mother-in-law, told REW, “I’m a dead duck. We don’t want to sell our condo, as we love staying there as often as possible and we have so much stuff in it. But we’re not there six months of the year, and we can’t afford the tax. We can’t rent it out long term and still stay there whenever we want. We feel like the City is taking our hard-earned dreams away.”

The good news? Declaring a home’s use has been made very easy by the City. After creating an account at Vancouver.ca/property-services – for those who don’t already have one for paying annual property taxes – it’s a simple, step-by-step online quiz on home use in 2017.

Any possible exemptions for empty homes, such an owner being in a care facility or the home being in probate, are taken into account in the quiz.

 

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Joannah Connolly
Joannah Connolly is editorial director of Glacier Real Estate, Glacier Media's real estate division. Joannah writes and curates real estate news for Glacier Media's local newspaper websites, including the Vancouver Courier, North Shore News, Burnaby Now, Tri-City News and others. She also oversees editorial content in Real Estate Weekly Homes, West Coast Condo, Western Investor and Glacier's special real estate publications. A dual Canadian-British citizen, Joannah has 22 years of journalism and editing experience in Vancouver and London, with a background in construction, architecture, healthcare and business media. Joannah has appeared on major local TV outlets as a real estate commentator, has moderated and spoken on various industry panels, and spent two years hosting the Real Estate Therapist radio show on Roundhouse Radio.