Vancouver Vacancy Tax

Does the Vancouver Vacancy Tax apply to you?

To address Vancouver’s housing crisis, the City of Vancouver has implemented an annual tax on empty or under-utilized residential properties in Vancouver called the Empty Homes Tax.

Every owner of residential property in Vancouver is required to submit a property status declaration each year to determine if their property is subject to the tax.

Properties deemed empty will be subject to a tax of 1% of the property’s assessed taxable value.

Most homes will not be subject to the tax, as it does not apply to principal residences or homes rented for at least six months of the year; however, all homeowners are required to submit a declaration.

Net revenues from the Empty Homes Tax will be reinvested into affordable housing initiatives.

The Empty Homes Tax is also known as the Vacancy Tax and is imposed under the Vacancy Tax By-law No. 11674.

Why Vancouver Vacancy Tax?

 Empty Homes Tax declaration due date

Declaration for 2017:  February 2, 2018

Empty Homes Tax payment: April 16, 2018

Unpaid tax added to property tax bill: December 31, 2018

The purpose of the Vancouver Vacancy Tax is to:

  • Return empty or under-utilized properties to use as long-term rental homes for people who live and work in Vancouver
  • Help relieve pressure on Vancouver’s rental housing market, as our city has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates and the highest rental costs in Canada.

Will Your Home Be Subject to The Vancouver Vacancy Tax?

Properties deemed vacant will be subject to a tax of 1% of the property’s assessed taxable value.

Every owner of a residential property will have to make a property status declaration for the 2017 calendar year. This will determine if the property is subject to the Empty Homes Tax, also known as the Vacancy Tax.

What Properties are not subject to the Vancouver Vacancy Tax?

Most properties will not be subject to the Empty Homes Tax, including those:

  • Used as a principal residence by the owner, his/her family member, or a friend for at least six months of the current year
  • Rented for at least six months of the current year, in periods of 30 or more consecutive days
  • Meeting the criteria for one of the exemptions

You will not be subject to the Vancouver Vacancy Tax if you can meet one of the exemptions listed below.

If you claim one of the following exemptions, you must be able to provide evidence that validates your declaration if asked.

 Evidence documentation is not required at the time of declaration and will only be requested if the property is selected for audit.

Occupancy for full-time work

Your property was not your principal residence, but you occupied it for at least 180 days of the year because you worked in Vancouver.
  • Address of your principal residence
  • Contact information for Vancouver employer
  • Letter from Vancouver employer confirming full time employment status and required physical presence for purposes of work

Owner in care

Your property was unoccupied for more than 180 days because you or your tenant was undergoing medical care or is residing in a hospital, long term, or supportive care facility.
  • Contact information for care facility
  • Letter from care facility confirming you or your tenant is undergoing medical/ supportive care

Estate of deceased

The property was unoccupied for more than 180 days because the registered owner is deceased and a grant of probate or administration of the estate was pending.
  • Death certificate of registered owner

Transfer of property

The property title was transferred during the year.
  • Title search or certificate of title showing the date that title was transferred

Undergoing redevelopment or major renovations

Your property was unoccupied for more than 180 days because:

  • The property was undergoing redevelopment or major renovations where permits:
    • had been issued and were being carried out diligently and without delay, or
    • were under review for redevelopment of vacant land or the conservation of heritage property.
  • Or, the property is vacant and part of a phased development which has:
    • A rezoning application under review
    • Approved rezoning with permits under review
    • Approved rezoning where construction has commenced
  • Short description of renovation/ redevelopment project
  • Permit number

Strata rental restriction

Your property was unoccupied for more than 180 days because it was subject to a strata rental bylaw as of November 16, 2016:

  • that prohibited rentals or restricted the number of units that may be rented, and
  • the maximum allowable number of rentals had already been reached.
  • Copy of strata bylaws
  • Letter from strata council confirming the maximum number of units have been rented

Court order

Your property was unoccupied for more than 180 days because the property was under one of the following:

  • A court order
  • Court proceedings
  • An order of a governmental authority prohibiting occupancy
  • Copy of the court order

Limited use residential property

Your property was unoccupied for more than 180 days because the use of the property was limited to one of the following:

  • Vehicle parking
  • A result of the size, shape, or other inherent limitation of the parcel, a residential building could not be constructed
  • Land survey or legal description of parcel that clearly illustrates the limiting aspects of the property

 

What to do if your property is currently empty or under-utilized

If you do not qualify for an exemption, several options are available to you:

  • Become a landlord by renting your property for at least six months of the year, in periods of 30 or more consecutive days
  • Enlist a property management firm to rent your property on a long-term or periodic basis
  • Invite a family member or friend to occupy your property as his/her principal residence for at least six months of the current year
  • Occupy your property as your principal residence for at least six months of the current year
  • Keep your property as-is and pay the Empty Homes Tax
  • Sell your property

 

Enforcement and penalties of The Vancouver Vacancy Tax

Every owner of a residential property is required to make a property status declaration each year to determine if the property is vacant and subject to the Empty Homes Tax.

Homes that are deemed vacant will be charged a tax of 1% of the property’s assessed taxable value.

Your property will be deemed vacant and subject to the tax if you fail to make a declaration by the due date. Penalties may also apply.

The Empty Homes Tax is also known as the Vacancy Tax and is imposed under the Vacancy Tax By-law No. 11674.

Penalties and fines

A declaration was not submitted

Failure to make a property status declaration by the due date will result in:

  • A $250.00 penalty for being in contravention of section 5.2 of the Vacancy Tax By-Law  (183 KB)
  • The property being deemed vacant and subject to a tax of 1% of the property’s assessed taxable value

Late and unpaid tax

Late and unpaid Empty Homes Taxes are subject to the same penalties for non-payment of property taxes, including:

  • A late payment penalty of 5%
  • Daily interest on arrears
  • The tax sale process

False declarations

False property status declarations will result in fines of up to $10,000 per day of the continuing offense, in addition to payment of the tax.

 

Audit process

Property status declarations may be subject to an audit process, in line with best practices for provincial and federal tax programs.

If your property is selected for an audit, you will be asked to provide evidence in support of your declaration. ( This documentation is not required at the time of declaration and will only be requested if the property is selected for audit.)

Ways to pay your Vancouver Vacancy Taxes

You can pay your property tax and Empty Homes Tax (Vacancy Tax) by online banking, by mail, at City Hall, or at your bank or ATM.

You can also pay your property tax through your mortgage payments.

Taxes can’t be paid by credit card.

How to avoid a penalty

To avoid a 5% penalty on your advance and main taxes, we must receive your:

  • Advance tax payment by February 2, 2018
  • Main tax payment by July 4, 2018
  • Home owner grant (if eligible) by July 4, 2018
  • Deferral agreement (if deferring your property taxes) by July 4, 2018

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