My Thoughts on Vancouver's Empty Home Tax

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It's February again. You know what that means? You know what that means? It means that you may have missed declaring your Property Status regarding the Empty Home Tax. It doesn’t even matter if you are living in your home. You need to declare that you are indeed living in your own home. If you don’t make this declaration by February you are sent a nice little ‘discounted’ fine in the amount of $125 (assuming you pay it within 20 days). If you don’t it can jump up to $375. This is the part of the process that really bothers me.

Let’s assume that we are all ok with being told by the city that we must have someone living in our home if we travel for more than 6 months at a time. By fining homeowners for not declaring you are actually living in your home, it is almost like the city is saying you are guilty unless you prove otherwise. Didn’t Rogers Cable fail to launch negative option billing before being slammed by the public and regulators in the early 2000s?

I believe it should be assumed that you are living in your home unless you declare otherwise. It is the process that really bothers me.

What is even worse is if you want to dispute the late declaration fee fine. If you want to dispute the fine, you must first pay the full non-discounted penalty of $250. And guess what? If the CIty adjudicates themselves as being correct, YOU are charged a $25 “adjudication fee”. This is obviously to discourage people from disputing the charge. Does this seem democratic to you?. And guess how the city will rule regarding your dispute anyway? Guilty of course.

Two more questions I want to ask before closing out this video.

Has the Empty Home Tax made a difference to vacancy rates or the cost to rent a home in Vancouver. According to an article at vacancy rates actually stayed the same at around 1%. This means that this tax has not made more rental housing available. What about the cost to rent in Vancouver? Well this went up around 5% from the previous year. Last question. How do home buyers protect themselves from having to pay this tax when purchasing a home that is vacant? It is very important that your real estate agent write into the contract that the Seller is responsible to pay the Empty Home Tax.

Close out by saying I love Vancouver. I love the mountains, clean water and stable government. I just think we need to look more closely before introducing more taxes and red tape.

What do you think of the empty home tax process and the city asking us to rent out our homes if we travel for 6 months or more at a time?

If you have any questions about the Empty Home Tax or you are looking to purchase or sell a home in Vancouver, please feel free to contact me at 604-808-9796.


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