Owners must find tenants soon or risk empty homes tax

The City of Vancouver is warning owners of empty or under-utilized homes that they must rent out their non-principal properties for at least six months in 2017 or risk paying an extra tax.

That leaves owners who have yet to find tenants only a few months — until July 1, to find tenants and ensure their property remains occupied for the rest of the year.

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The city suspects there are at least 10,800 empty homes in Vancouver while renters are struggling to find affordable places to live.

The new empty homes tax requires owners to rent out their non-principal homes for at least half the year, in periods of 30 or more consecutive days. Otherwise, they can be subject to a one per cent tax on its assessed value.

Reminders of the six-month rental requirement are being mailed out later this month. The city is also pointing to LandlordBC as a resource where homeowners who could be affected by the tax can get information about renting out their properties.

The organization, which represents the residential housing industry in B.C., is hosting a webinar on the subject April 6.

David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC, said he expects the city’s advisory will prompt some owners of empty homes to take action sooner than later.

“Our view is that the majority of those who elect to rent their unit will contract licensed property managers versus managing their unit or property on their own. However, we do not know to what extent these owners have contacted or contracted licensed party property managers to this point,” he told the Courier in an email.

“We are all very much in unchartered territory with this tax and really have no sense as to what the final impact will be on generating new supply. We are hopeful that it will as additional supply is badly needed. The owners have the option to rent out their unit or pay the tax, as you know.  It will be interesting to see what the majority elect to do.”

Hutniak called the city’s tax initiative just one step in addressing Vancouver’s supply challenge, and his organization is hopeful it will have an impact.

“Our industry continues to encourage the City of Vancouver, municipalities throughout Metro and, senior levels of government, to implement progressive policy, particularly in the form of zoning and tax policy, to facilitate the building of desperately needed new purpose-built rental housing,” he said.

Information about LandlordBC’s webinar can be found at landlordbc.ca/empty-homes.

noconnor@vancourier.com

@Naoibh

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