Only 55 per cent of empty homes tax declarations have been filed as the Feb. 2 deadline approaches.
Another reminder was issued in a city press release Tuesday morning: miss the deadline and you could face penalties.
Under the city’s $7.4-million empty homes tax program, which was adopted in late 2016, owners are required to rent out their empty or under-utilized, non-principal properties for at least six months of the year.
The six months don’t have to be consecutive, but must be in periods of 30 or more consecutive days.
The city estimates there are 25,000 empty or underutilized homes in the city as many Vancouver residents struggle to find an affordable place to live.
So far, 103,000 Vancouver property owners have submitted declarations — 93 per cent online, four per cent by calling 3-1-1 and three per cent in person at city hall.
Meanwhile, the city initiated Empty Homes Tax audits last week, which were launched to “ensure compliance.”
Audit notifications have been sent requesting property owners provide information or evidence to support a property status declaration, according to Tuesday’s press release.
“In the midst of this affordable housing crisis, Vancouver housing must be for homes first and investments second,” Mayor Gregor Robertson was quoted as saying. “With the Empty Homes Tax, we are encouraging the best use of all our housing and working to boost rental supply for people who live and work in Vancouver. With 45 per cent of property owners still required to declare by Feb. 2, we are urging all property owners to submit their declarations as soon as possible.”
Reminder notices are being issued this week to property owners who have not yet submitted a declaration.
Those who don’t meet the Feb. 2 deadline will have their properties deemed vacant and could face the Empty Homes Tax at a rate of one per cent of the property’s assessed taxable value, as well as a $250 penalty.
City hall will be have extended opening hours on Thursdays and Saturdays in the weeks before the declaration due date. Property owners can stop by city hall during opening hours, and extended hours, to receive assistance from staff to make their declarations.
Extended hours at city hall:
Jan. 11: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Jan. 13: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jan. 18: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Jan. 20: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Jan. 25: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Jan. 27: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Feb. 1: 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There are also information sessions planned at select community centres where residents can receive assistance with submitting their declarations. These sessions have limited seats and must be reserved online at recreation.vancouver.ca.
Empty Homes Tax information sessions:
- Jan. 9: 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews
- Jan. 10: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at False Creek Community Centre, 1318 Cartwright St.
- Jan. 11: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Kerrisdale Community Centre, 5851 West Blvd.
- Jan. 12: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer St.
- Jan. 15: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Renfrew Park Community Centre, 2929 East 22nd Ave.
- Jan. 17: 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Douglas Park Community Centre, 801 West 22nd Ave.
- Jan. 17: 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Kitsilano Community Centre, 2690 Larch St.
- Jan. 18: 1:00 p.m. to 2 p.m., Sunset Community Centre, 6810 Main St.
- Jan. 19: 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Trout Lake Community Centre, 3360 Victoria Dr.
Declarations can be submitted online at vancouver.ca/eht-declare.
More information on the Empty Homes Tax can be found at visit vancouver.ca/eht.