Vancouver’s Vacant Home Owners Will Pay 1% of Assessed Value in Annual Tax

Joannah Connolly
November 10, 2016

Following a public consultation, the City of Vancouver outlined the details of its much-anticipated vacant home tax November 9, including the amount payable and who will be exempt.

Owners of empty homes who are liable for the tax will have to pay one per cent of their property’s assessed value, annually – meaning that a $1 million home left empty will cost the owner $10,000 a year in tax.

Mayor Gregor Robertson is aiming to tap into the reported 10,800 vacant homes in the city in an attempt to either force many of them into the rental pool, easing the tight rental vacancy rate, or collecting revenues to put towards affordable housing initiatives.

"We have the lowest vacancy rate and the highest rents of any city in Canada right now," Robertson told reporters at a news conference. "People are feeling squeezed on all sides, so it's time to take action."

However, many owners will be exempt from paying the tax, including snowbirds who leave their principal residence for large portions of the year. Only non-principal residences are subject to the tax.

Those who rent out the property for at least six months of the year, in minimum 30-day periods, are also exempt.

Other exclusions include the following scenarios:

  • The property is undergoing major renovations, or is under construction or redevelopment (with permits).
  • The registered owner (or other occupier) is undergoing medical or supportive care.
  • The owner is deceased and grant of probate or administration is pending.
  • Ownership of the property changed during the previous year.
  • The property is subject to existing strata rental restrictions.
  • The registered owner uses the property for six months of the year for work purposes but claims principal residence elsewhere.
  • The property is under a court order prohibiting occupancy.
  • The property is limited to vehicle parking or the size, shape or inherent limitation such that a residential building cannot be constructed.
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.