And The Impact On Residential Properties And Land

In July 2017, the City of Vancouver enacted the Vancouver Vacancy Tax Bylaw. For the 2018 assessment roll year, a supplemental vacancy tax of 1% will be applied to the taxable assessed value of residential properties that are deemed to be “unoccupied” or “vacant” in accordance with the bylaw.

A property is considered residential if it falls under the Class 1 – Residential taxation bracket. Therefore, it is essential to highlight that the tax can be applied to vacant residential development land, not just single family dwellings, strata properties, and apartments.

Under the new bylaw, a residential property is considered to be unoccupied if it is not:

  1. the principal residence of an occupier; or
  2. occupied by a tenant or subtenant for a term of at least 30 consecutive days.

A residential property is considered to be vacant if it:

  1. has been unoccupied for more than 180 days during the vacancy reference period (12 months of the tax year); or
  2. is deemed to be vacant property in accordance with the by-law.

There are important exemptions available for certain properties:

  1. forming part of an estate of deceased;
  2. undergoing redevelopment or major renovations;
  3. where the owner is in medical care;
  4. with is a rental restriction or prohibition;
  5. where there is a transfer of title;
  6. if the residential property was not the principal residence of a registered owner during the vacancy reference period, but was occupied by a registered owner for a minimum of 180 days during the vacancy reference period because the registered owner worked in the City;
  7. subject to a court order; or
  8. where there is limited residential use due to physical constraints (for example, limited to vehicle parking or inability to construct due to parcel size restraints).

For properties under redevelopment of major renovations, permits and development applications must be filed and development diligent pursued. For more specific information for major renovations, heritage renovations, phased developments, and please consult the Bylaw #11674.

The administration of the system is essentially self-reporting in that property status declaration forms will be mailed to registered owners, however, the City will also rely on complaints of citizens to allow them to investigate bylaw contravention. The forms will be mailed at the end of December, with a requirement of being completed and returned by the 2nd business day of February. If the owner fails to complete a property status declaration as required, the property will be deemed vacant and subject to the tax. Tax notices would then be sent out by the 10th business day of March.

Penalties for violating the any provision in the bylaw are stiff, ranging from $250 to $10,000 per offence. Fines for continuing offences are of the same magnitude, but are administered on a daily basis, per offence.

On whole, it will be an interesting upcoming year to see how the City handles the implementation, public response, and enforcement of this new program.

If you have any questions about the new vacancy tax, please do not hesitate to call 778-329-9290 and speak with Nolan Rivers. More information can also be found on the City of Vancouver website.