Vancouver passes tax on empty homes

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City of Vancouver passes empty home tax
WATCH: After more than four hours of debate on Wednesday, the City of Vancouver has passed an empty home tax. Catherine Urquhart was at city hall and has all the details – Nov 16, 2016

VANCOUVER – Vancouver has voted to implement a one per cent tax on empty homes in a bid to alleviate the city’s crunched rental housing market.

The tax, which is the first of its kind in Canada, will apply to non-principal residences that are left empty for six months of the year or longer.

Home owners will be required to self-declare whether their property is vacant and could be subject to fines up to $10,000 for false reports.

READ MORE: Vancouver’s empty home tax approved by council to go to public consultation

Properties under renovation, owners who are in hospital and condos with strata rental restrictions will all be exempt from the tax.

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Eight city councillors voted in favour of the tax Wednesday, while three opposed the levy.

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Councillors also directed city staff to work with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and other organizations to collect data on possible impacts of the tax and report back next year.

WATCH: Empty home tax could hit Vancouver homeowners by 2017

Click to play video: 'Empty home tax could hit Vancouver homeowners by 2017'
Empty home tax could hit Vancouver homeowners by 2017

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has said the main goal of the tax is not to bring in money, but to encourage owners to rent their properties in a city with the lowest rental vacancy rate and highest rents in Canada.

He says revenues will go towards paying for the program and supporting affordable housing initiatives.

Staff hope to have the levy in place for the 2017 year, with the first payments expected in 2018.

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