Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax – Is it working?

As the first of its kind, the Vancouver Empty Homes Tax (“EHT”) is now into its third year.

The rationale for this draconian tax by the city of Vancouver was that there were close to 25,000 empty homes in the city with a rental vacancy rate next to nil.

By forcing owners to rent their empty homes or face a stiff 1% tax penalty (based on the assessed value of their properties), the city reasoned that the rental pool would grow by tens of thousands of units and put downward pressure on rental rates.

Did that actually happen?

According to a BIV article published late last year:

The City of Vancouver has found 2,538 vacant homes in its first empty-homes tax annual report – about one-tenth of the homes the city said were empty when it first promoted the tax, which has cost $10 million to implement.

Did rents in Vancouver become more affordable?

Early this year an article by Joannah Connolly in the Vancouver Courier stated that median one bedroom advertised rents in Vancouver hit $2,130, the second highest in Canada.

Well, are there at least more rental units available?

And to add insult to injury the Globe and Mail recently reported that the number of properties in the Vancouver rental pool actually DECLINED since the introduction of the Empty Homes Tax by about 800!

Faced with these dismal findings, one would think that any right minded politician possessing even an ounce of common sense would conclude that the EHT is an abject failure and repeal it.

Instead, the mayor of Vancouver wants to increase the tax from 1% to 3%!!

A cynic might suggest that the $38,000,000 windfall that the EHT is bringing into city coffers has something to do with the mayor’s outlandish position!

Has there been any backlash from Vancouverites in view of this data? 

Despite the fact that the EHT represents a severe encroachment on property rights, the push back from home owners in “the world’s sixth most livable city” seems to be slim to none.

The “progressive” agendas of Vancouver city council (and the current NDP provincial government which just passed the disingenuous Speculation and Vacancy Tax) are to punish property owners for the politicians’ lack of competence in managing the ever-growing influx of people into BC, and in particular, the Lower Mainland.

Why should any Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada who lawfully owns a property be told by the government that they can’t leave it vacant?

Unfortunately, Canadians have been conditioned to automatic, knee jerk acceptance of all new taxes –it’s in their DNA.

Income tax, capital gains tax, property tax, GVRD tax, payroll tax, GST, PST, transit levies, school levies, Property Transfer Tax, Carbon Tax and now the Spec Tax and Empty Homes Tax – the list is endless! (the feds have just proposed new taxes on plastics and soda pop as well)

Like governments, taxes are a necessary evil at the best of times, but when they don’t effectively address the concerns which underpin their very existence, they should be forthwith repealed.  And if the politicians who brought in such taxes don’t get it, they should be summarily removed from office at the ballot box.

*Have a problem with the EHT or the Spec Tax?  Call us, we may be able to help! 604-682-1509

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