Vancouver Finds Support for Vacancy Tax

by Chris on July 18, 2016

tenant screeningAccording to a study conducted by the City of Vancouver, there are someĀ 10,800 properties in the city — many of them condos — sitting vacant.

Meanwhile, residents are facing a housing crisis as the rental vacancy rate dips below one percent and home prices soar. As a result, Vancouver lawmakers are calling for a tax on those vacant condos and homes as an incentive for owners to place the properties into service, or fund more affordable housing options.

According to a news report, there are only 330 purpose built rental apartments available at any given time in Vancouver.

Next week, the B.C. legislature is expected to convene an emergency session in order to clear the way for the Vancouver proposal. Finance Minister de Jong has indicated that the province will amend its charter to provide a path forward. However, there are many details still to work out.

Vancouver had proposed two separate approaches for how the tax may work. In one scenario, the provincial government would create a new classification of vacant residential properties, and then adjust property taxes on these properties.

An alternative is to charge a new tax on “under-occupied” properties — those held as investments but not offered to local renters. That will not include properties owned by snowbirds or part-time residents. This option requires money for enforcement. It is not clear whether the city or the province would provide that funding.

According to the news report, B.C.’s Finance Minister is prepared to share data with the City of Vancouver, including utility usage, to locate potentially under-utilized or vacant properties.

The provincial legislature is slated to meet on July 25 to discuss the proposals.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

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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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew July 19, 2016 at 5:53 am

A vacancy tax could be a strong incentive for naive landlords to haphazardly rent their property to bad tenants. In their rush to avoid being taxed on the vacant property the landlords may not do the proper checks on the tenant. This can result in severe financial and emotional hardship on the landlords.

Silvie July 19, 2016 at 7:15 am

That’s absolutely right. I am seriously considering the option of leaving my properties vacant because of the stress and difficulties of renting that are a direct result of the suffocating laws that these same lawmakers are leaving in place. Until the government takes responsibility for the hard to house themselves instead of forcing landlords to do so through legal doctrine, landlords will continue to get squeezed. As we continue down this path of legal avenues in support of free housing for pro tenants on the backs of landlords, the number of purposely vacant units will only increase.

Ted July 19, 2016 at 7:56 am

So the owner does not have the right to use his property as he sees fit!
I see a court case in the near future.

MD July 20, 2016 at 2:28 am

Looks to be hard to determine if suite is vacant, sitting idle, homeowner traveling for extended time, etc. In addition the enforcement looks to be a nightmare. What happens when the rental market swings the other way and vacancy rates rise. More regulations is not the answer. Let the market correct itself, as it always does.

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