Owners of empty homes who are liable for the tax will have to pay one per cent of their property’s assessed value, annually – meaning that a $1 million home left empty will cost the owner $10,000 a year in tax.
Mayor Gregor Robertson is aiming to tap into the reported 10,800 vacant homes in the city in an attempt to either force many of them into the rental pool, easing the tight rental vacancy rate, or collecting revenues to put towards affordable housing initiatives.
"We have the lowest vacancy rate and the highest rents of any city in Canada right now," Robertson told reporters at a news conference. "People are feeling squeezed on all sides, so it's time to take action."
However, many owners will be exempt from paying the tax, including snowbirds who leave their principal residence for large portions of the year. Only non-principal residences are subject to the tax.
Those who rent out the property for at least six months of the year, in minimum 30-day periods, are also exempt.
Other exclusions include the following scenarios:
- The property is undergoing major renovations, or is under construction or redevelopment (with permits).
- The registered owner (or other occupier) is undergoing medical or supportive care.
- The owner is deceased and grant of probate or administration is pending.
- Ownership of the property changed during the previous year.
- The property is subject to existing strata rental restrictions.
- The registered owner uses the property for six months of the year for work purposes but claims principal residence elsewhere.
- The property is under a court order prohibiting occupancy.
- The property is limited to vehicle parking or the size, shape or inherent limitation such that a residential building cannot be constructed.