The City of Vancouver says the number of properties declared vacant in 2018 has dropped 15 per cent from 2017.
A total of 922 properties were reported empty by the Feb. 4 deadline, compared to 1,085 declared vacant by last year’s deadline.
The city claims just over half of the previously empty homes have been returned to the rental market, which Mayor Kennedy Stewart says was the goal of the Empty Homes Tax.
“The year-over-year numbers are very encouraging,” Stewart said in a new release.
Properties that were declared vacant or failed to submit by deadline will be issued a bill for one per cent of the property’s 2018 assessed taxable value. Payments are due by April 12.
The city says 97 per cent of homeowners made their property status declaration by deadline. Late declarations can be made online starting Thursday, but come with a $250 penalty.
Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax took effect in 2017. It includes exemptions for owners who sold their homes during the tax year or are undergoing medical or supportive care, as well as for homes that are undergoing permitted renovations.
The city previously estimated the program would cost about $7.4 million to implement over three years.
From 2018: The City of Vancouver has raised millions of dollars from its new empty homes tax, but critics say we’ll never really know whether the levy has accomplished its goal of increasing the pool of rental housing.