Beginning January 1, 2017 owners of vacant residential property in Vancouver will need to rent them out, or pay up.
Lawmakers followed through on a promise to force vacant rental properties into service, or use a tax to fund other affordable housing options.
With a vacancy rate of less than 1 per cent, Mayor Gregor Robertson says the city cannot afford to leave an estimated 20,000 homes sitting idle.
In an effort to convert these vacant dwellings into rental inventory, the Vancouver City Council approved a tax of 1 per cent of assessed value. The Empty Homes Tax will apply to those properties that are neither an owner’s principal residence nor being rented on a long-term basis. Vacant land where residential buildings could be erected also will be subject to the tax.
The rules generally do not apply to snowbirds. Principal residences are exempt, as are properties that are rented for six months or more per year, so long as these are not short-term (less than one month) rentals.
Other exemptions apply:
The owner uses the property for a least six months of the year for work, even if the person has a principal residence elsewhere;
The vacancy is due to medical issues;
The property is newly-acquired or undergoing renovations; or,
The unit is subject to strata restrictions on renting.
Property owners will be required to self-declare the status of the property. In December, 2017, owners should expect to receive the status declaration notice. Those who give false information or fail to declare the status of the property can suffer significant income loss — penalties as high as $10,000 per day. Late payments will trigger a 5 per cent penalty. The city warns of rigorous audits.
In addition to the vacancy tax, Vancouver lawmakers are considering regulations which could limit the number of short-term vacation rentals.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.