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November 21, 2019, 10:11 am

City of Vancouver Collects $39.7 from Empty Homes Tax

City of Vancouver

Since the City’s Empty Homes Tax (EHT) was launched in 2016, the program has created $39.7 million in net revenue to fund affordable housing initiatives across the city. There has also been an increase in occupied properties and a decrease in vacant properties.

“The main objective of Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax is to influence property owners to put their empty properties on the rental market and the data shows that is happening,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “For those who choose to keep their properties unoccupied, we appreciate their contributions to the funds that are supporting various, much-needed affordable housing initiatives across the city.”

EHT annual report

The 2018 Empty Homes Tax Annual Report, released today, shows:
  • There were 22% fewer vacant in 2018 compared to 2017
  • The number of properties declared tenanted went up by 7% year-over-year
These two indicators will be tracked every year in the annual report to monitor the impact of the tax.

For more details about EHT including the full 2018 statistics and year-over-year comparisons:
Read the annual report PDF file (555 KB)

Key initiatives funded by tax

Three key affordable housing initiatives being funded by EHT revenue are (for full list and costs, please refer to the EHT Annual Report):
  • $17 million towards the 2019-2022 Community Housing Incentive Program just approved by Council that will provide grants to housing providers to deepen affordability of social and co-op housing.
  • The $3.8 million purchase of Ross House, a Single Room Occupancy building with 24 rooms in the Downtown Eastside. We are in the process of securing a non-profit operator who will support the implementation of increasing housing options for LGBTQ and trans, gender diverse, and Two-Spirit people (TGD2S) at this location, and work to support Japanese-Canadian and Indigenous culture and heritage through public art, events and programming, and heritage rehabilitation.  
  • Additional programs and support services (totalling $5.83 million) to increase advocacy and support for renters, including funding to the Rent Bank, establishment of a renters inquiry line, grants to non-profits that advocate for renters, and development of a Renter Centre that will centralize support resources.
“From securing safe, warm homes in the Downtown Eastside, to increasing support for renters and providing grants to non-profit housing providers, lives are being changed by the revenue generated from the Empty Homes Tax,” said Sandra Singh, General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services. “We’re looking forward to reaching more residents across Vancouver as the projects and programs continue to grow.”  

Proposed changes to the by-law

In a report going to City Council on November 26, City staff have proposed some changes to the Vacancy Tax by-law, the most notable of which is to extend to 90 days the timeframe for property owners to submit a complaint if they wish to challenge the levy on their property. If approved, each of the by-law changes would come into effect for the reference years specified in the by-law. 

Staff have also recommended a new exemption where, in certain circumstances, development and tenancy exemptions can be combined to meet the six-month threshold.

Provincial Speculation and Vacancy Tax

The City's Empty Homes Tax is separate from the provincial government’s Speculation and Vacancy Tax; enquiries regarding the province’s tax may be directed to:

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