Empty homes tax due today

The new tax was introduced as a way to help address one component of Vancouver's housing crisis.

Owners have until the end of the business day to pay their 2017 empty homes tax or file a notice of complaint

Condominiums along the shores of Coal Harbour in Vancouver. According to earlier studies, downtown Vancouver has the highest number of empty homes of any city neighbourhood. (Andy Clark /Reuters)

Residential property owners have until the end of business today to pay Vancouver's new empty homes tax for 2017.

The new tax was introduced as a way to help address one component of the city's housing crisis by encouraging owners to put their empty homes onto the rental market.

Owners had to declare by Feb. 2 whether properties were lived in for more than half a year. Those with underused properties or who failed to declare will be charged the additional empty homes tax levy of one per cent of the assessed value of the property.

A City of Vancouver poster promoting the empty homes tax. (CBC)

Property owners who dispute their empty homes tax assessment have until today to appeal by filing a notice of complaint.

Some exemptions apply, including for properties undergoing construction or renovation.

City staff say they will have a clearer picture by the fall of this year of how many empty homes remain in Vancouver and how much the new tax has raised. 

Earlier studies showed that downtown Vancouver had the highest number of empty or underutilized homes — 2,244 in total. The West End had the second highest total at 735. 

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's annual report from November 2017, the vacancy rate in Vancouver is 0.9 per cent.

The average rent for a two-bedroom unit was found to be the highest of any Canadian city at $1,552 per month.

Revenue from the empty homes tax will be invested in affordable housing initiatives, according to the city. 

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