A message from Mayor Gregor Robertson

This morning, I announced the next steps for Vancouver’s new Empty Homes Tax. It's the latest in a series of steps to make sure that Vancouver housing is first and foremost for homes, not a commodity to make money with.

Vancouver's rental vacancy rate is hovering near-zero, putting renters in crisis. The stories I hear from tenants who are taken advantage of through bidding wars, real estate speculation, and renoviction loopholes in BC's Residential Tenancy Act are troubling. It's frustrating and discouraging to see Vancouver’s rental housing crisis impacting people of all incomes and in every neighbourhood so deeply. 

This proposed empty homes tax is first and foremost about bringing rental homes back into the market, and ensuring the best use of all our housing.

There are 10,800 known long-term empty homes in Vancouver, and likely thousands more underutilized ones that could be rented out to people who are desperately looking for secure rental housing in this tight market.

Here's what you need to know about our empty homes tax:

  • The tax will target properties left empty or underutilized and used as a business holding, and won’t apply to homes used as principal residences (either by owner, tenant or licensee such as a family member).
  • The tax will use a self-declaration, audit, and complaint response, similar to the property tax Homeowner Grant. If audited, owners will have to prove that the home was a principal residence for the owner or a tenant. Owners will automatically be charged the empty homes tax if no declaration is made.
  • Some homes will be subject to exemptions under the new tax, which will be determined this fall through public consultation.
  • Funds from the empty homes tax will be re-invested back into affordable housing in Vancouver, helping more families live in our city.

Council will vote on moving forward with the tax next week, and some aspects, like the tax rate and exemption rules, will be reviewed through public consultation over the next month. A final version of the empty homes tax will go to Council in November, ready to be in place by 2017.

To find out more, visit vancouver.ca/emptyhomes

We've got more steps coming this fall, including a proposed framework for regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb. The empty homes tax is not a silver bullet solution to solve Vancouver’s affordability crisis, but we’re hoping it will be part of the solution to bring badly needed rental homes back into the market.

Thanks for your support,

Gregor