News / Vancouver

1 in 10 Vancouver homeowners yet to file empty homes declaration

About 11 per cent of residential-property owners have until Friday, February 2 to declare whether their home is empty or not

A home in Vancouver's Shaughnessy neighbourhood that was empty for two years, but is now being rented out.

Jen St. Denis / Metro

A home in Vancouver's Shaughnessy neighbourhood that was empty for two years, but is now being rented out.

About 21,000 Vancouver homeowners (11 per cent) have four days left to declare their residential property is not empty if they want to avoid paying the empty homes tax.

Those with empty homes – as well as those that do not declare – will face a one per cent tax on the 2017 assessed value of the property.

For a $1 million home, that amounts to $10,000 extra in taxes.

About 89 per cent of homeowners have filed their empty homes declaration to date, the city said in a press conference Monday. Staff say it is normal to see a rush in the few days before a tax deadline and that it still aims to have 100 per cent compliance with the declaration.

Those who lie on their empty homes declaration could face fines of up to $10,000 per day, in addition to having to pay the tax. Those who fail to file at all will face a $250 penalty fee as well as having to pay the tax.

Property owners who are audited will receive letter from the city asking for additional info.

SFU public policy expert Josh Gordon says the empty homes tax is a step in the right direction and was pleasantly surprised at how many people have filed their declaration already.

“Given that people generally leave things to the last moment, the 11% is actually an encouraging figure,” he said in a phone interview.

“It suggests that the vast majority of people will have complied with the system.”

He noted it’s too early to say how effective the policy is – the city has advertised the policy as a way to inject rental housing supply into the market. The city also would not release data on how many homes have been declared empty so far.

But city staff did say the vacancy rate increased by 0.1 per cent in 2017.

There are three ways to submit an empty homes declaration:

Online at About 93 per cent of people who have filed have done so online, according to city staff.

In person at City Hall: Staff will be available until 8 p.m. on Thursday to help homeowners make their declarations.

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