We celebrated Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation. But it was also the deadline by which some condominium and house owners had to rent their properties to avoid paying Vancouver’s new Empty Home Tax.
Readers may recall my longstanding concerns with vacancy tax programs. In an October 2014 column ‘Lessons from London on foreign home buyers’, I reported on then London Mayor Boris Johnson’s desire to “whack up council tax” on houses that remained empty for more than a year.
Since vacancy tax programs were introduced in the UK, it appears the number of vacant homes has actually increased, and many pundits question whether such programs can be effective, or are simply an attempt to solicit votes in cities with severe housing crises.
Last year, Mayor Robertson announced Vancouver’s so-called Empty Home Tax. I say ‘so-called’ since this tax didn’t just penalize owners of empty dwellings; it also penalized owners of regularly used second homes unless they are rented out for a minimum of 180 days to someone else.