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Nearly half of Vancouver property owners have yet to declare whether their homes are empty

Last Updated Jan 9, 2018 at 5:36 pm PDT

FILE - Vancouver City Hall. (Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

Homeowners in Vancouver have until Feb. 2, to declare whether their homes are empty, or pay the empty homes tax

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Nearly half of Vancouver property owners have yet to declare whether their homes are empty or not, just weeks before the February deadline.

The City of Vancouver says 45 per cent of property owners still need to register their properties to comply with the city’s new empty homes tax.

You have until February 2nd to declare, otherwise you’ll face a $250 fine and have to pay the empty homes tax. That tax is one per cent of the property’s assessed taxable value.

The city has also launched its audit system, meant to ensure residents are complying with the program.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says in a news release that the tax encourages the best use of all housing in the city and will increase the rental supply for those who live and work in Vancouver.

In November, Robertson said the tax could put as many as 25,000 empty units back on the rental market.

Local tax could impact Metro Vancouver, real estate expert

If the one per cent tax has its intended effect, housing availability could go up and prices could drop in other Metro Vancouver municipalities, according to Sauder School of Business Real Estate expert Tom Davidoff.

“It can’t happen only in Vancouver because you can’t have Vancouver all of a sudden become much cheaper and all of the other markets stay the same because then more people would come into Vancouver and leave all the other markets,” he said.

Municipalities closer to Vancouver could see the biggest spill-over effect, according to Davidoff. While prices could go up in some Metro Vancouver cities, he thinks it’s likely not enough to offset the potential drop.

However, it’s also unlikely prices will change dramatically.

“Most of the impact in terms of prices and rents, we should have already seen because the market isn’t learning anything new. The tax is already in place,” Davidoff said.

He said he will be watching how much revenue the City of Vancouver gets from the tax.

“We don’t know how good people will be about actually following the law and we don’t know how many people have changed their behaviour to avoid the tax. I think the revenue raised will be most interesting and to see what property types are actually paying the empty homes tax.”