Owners of vacant Vancouver homes looking to avoid the city’s new empty homes tax will need to have a tenant in place by Saturday if they hope to avoid paying the levy for 2017.
Under the new regulations, any home that’s not a principal residence must be rented out for at least six months of the year.
That means a Canada Day deadline for most homes that haven’t already had a tenant for at least part of the year.
“They don’t have to be continuous months, they need to be 30-day periods. July 1 to December 31 would be a six-month period which would then not attract the tax,” said Esther Lee, director of financial services with the City of Vancouver.
WATCH: City of Vancouver passes empty home tax
Property owners who don’t have a tenant in place will be taxed one per cent of the home’s assessed value.
There are some exceptions to the new tax.
“If your property is undergoing major renovations or under construction and there’s a development permit in place and the work is being done in an efficient manner. There’s also an exemption for properties that prohibit it being occupied from a court order,” Lee said.
Other exemptions exist for owners who sold their homes during the tax year or are undergoing medical or supportive care.
As of May 2016, more than 25,000 properties were unoccupied or occupied by temporary or foreign residents, according to Census data.
The city won’t know until December if the empty homes tax is achieving its goal of freeing up rental homes, Lee said.
That’s when data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will show whether the city’s vacancy rate, currently hovering below one per cent, has shifted.
The city estimates the program will cost $7.4 million to implement over three years.
- With files from Emily Lazatin