British Columbia

More than 2,000 Vancouver property owners fail to declare status for empty homes tax

The 2,132 undeclared properties will now be included in the total of 8,481 homes that could be subject to the tax, which was unveiled last year.

Owners had until March 5 to tell city whether properties were vacant or underutilized

Empty homes tax is intended to ease the Vancouver rental housing crunch (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

More than 2,000 property owners in Vancouver failed to notify the city before the March 5 deadline whether their homes are subject to the empty homes tax.

As a result, the 2,132 undeclared properties will now be included in the total of 8,481 homes that could be subject to the tax, the first of its kind in the country.

The total also includes properties that applied for an exemption, for reasons such as home renovation or the resident living in a long-term care facility.

"Vancouver housing needs to be for homes first, not just treated as a commodity," Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a release.

"We brought in an empty homes tax because Vancouver has a near-zero vacancy rate and many people are struggling to find a place to rent."

The city received 183,911 declarations, accounting for more than 98 per cent of Vancouver's property owners.

Downtown Vancouver has the highest number of unoccupied or underutilized properties at 2,244 (City of Vancouver)

New tax

Under the city's rules, properties lived in for less than half of the year are subject to a tax of one per cent of the assessed taxable value.

More than 60 per cent of the vacant or underutilized properties are condos and around a third are single-family homes.

Downtown Vancouver has far more empty or underutilized homes than any other neighbourhood, with a total of 2,244.

The West End has the second highest total at 735. Strathcona has the fewest unoccupied homes with 86.

Property owners will be getting their tax bills later this month and will be required to pay by April 16.

The city says net revenues from the tax will be invested in affordable housing initiatives.