Canada: Vancouver Introduces Empty Homes Tax

Last Updated: July 13 2017
Article by Edward L. Wilson

NOTE: The below article is a shortened version summarizing material information regarding the Empty Homes Tax. Click here for the full version including additional commentary and examples.

1. Vancouver's new Empty Homes Tax became effective January 1, 2017.

Targeting the approximately 10,000 year-round empty and 10,000 under-occupied homes in Vancouver, homes which are unoccupied for six full months of the year or more will be subject to the new 1% Empty Homes Tax (the "EHT") imposed by Vancouver's new Vacancy Tax By-law No. 11674 (the "By-law"). Homes that are determined or deemed to be vacant will be subject to an EHT equal to 1% of the property's taxable assessed value in addition to the existing property tax. The EHT will be applied annually, with the first taxation year beginning January 1, 2017. The tax for 2017 would be payable by April 2018.

2. Who won't be subject to the tax?

Most Vancouver homes will not be subject to the EHT. Residences being used as a principal residence by the owner, a family member or a friend for at least six months of the tax year will not be charged the EHT, nor will properties that are rented long-term (with a written tenancy agreement), for at least 30 days in a row for a minimum of six months in aggregate over the course of a year.

3. What is a vacant home?

A home is not a vacant home and thus not subject to the EHT when it is being used as a principal residence by the owner or the owner's family or a friend for at least six months of the year. The By-law has its own definition of what is a principal residence, which is not necessarily the same as other laws. The By-law provides that a principal residence is defined as:

The usual place where an individual lives, makes his or her home and conducts his or her daily affairs, including without limitation, paying bills and receiving mail, and is generally the residential address used on documentation related to billing, identification, taxation and insurance purposes, including without limitation, income tax returns, Medical Services Plan documentation, driver's licenses, personal identification, vehicle registration and utility bills."

A residential property is considered to be unoccupied in the following circumstances:

(a) the residential property is not the principal residence of an occupier; or

(b) the residential property is not occupied by a tenant or subtenant for a term of at least 30 consecutive days.

A residential property is considered to be a vacant property if:

(a) it has been unoccupied for more than 180 days during a calendar year period; or

(b) it is deemed to be vacant property in accordance with the By-law.

4. Pied-de-terres and snowbirds.

Many people maintain second homes in Vancouver some distance away from their primary residence. It may be a vacation home used for a few weeks a year, or purchased as a future retirement home. If the Vancouver home is their principal residence, it is not subject to the EHT. If their other home is their principal residence and the owner does not rent out their Vancouver home for at least six months of the year (or another exemption applies), their Vancouver home will be subject to the EHT.

5. Vacant residential land will also be subject to the EHT.

Any property, including vacant property, is potentially subject to the EHT if the property is classified as Class 1, Residential by BC Assessment. The City has decided to impose the EHT on vacant property to avoid owners "prematurely" demolishing homes and not promptly rebuilding a home on the property so as to avoid the EHT. This may catch a homeowner whose home consist of two 2 adjacent lots, with all of the improvements located on 1 of the 2 lots.

6. Apartment buildings.

If a building is not stratified and is one legal parcel and one unit is occupied, the whole building is exempt.

7. Annual declaration.

In December of each year, all owners of residential properties in Vancouver will receive instructions to complete a Property Status Declaration (a "PSD") from the City that must be completed and returned to the City on or before the 2nd business day of the following February. If the owner fails to submit the PSD, the property will be deemed to be vacant and subject to the EHT. The City may also pursue fines.

8. Tax notice.

The City will review the completed PSD and determine whether or not the property is subject to the EHT. Where a residential property is determined or deemed to be vacant, it will be subject to the EHT. The City will mail an EHT notice to each registered owner of a property that is subject to EHT by the end of the 2nd week of March each year. An owner who disputes the EHT notice may submit a complaint to the Vacancy Tax Review Officer regarding the City's decision to impose the EHT on the basis that an error or omission was made by the City, or by the owner in completing the PSD. The decision of the Vacancy Tax Review Officer can be further appealed to the Vacancy Tax Review Panel.

9. Deemed to be vacant.

A parcel of residential property is deemed to be vacant property and is subject to the EHT where the owner:

a) fails to file a PSD as required by the By-law;

b) makes a false PSD;

c) fails to provide the information or to submit required evidence to the Collector of Taxes in accordance with the By-law; or

d) provides false information or submits false evidence to the Collector of Taxes.

10. EHT due date and penalty.

The EHT is due and payable by the owner on or before the 10th business day of April of the year that the EHT Notice is issued. So the EHT for a property that was vacant in 2017 will be due in April of 2018. The EHT which is unpaid as of the 10th business day of April incurs a penalty of 5% and interest in the same amount as unpaid property taxes. The EHT together with any penalties will be added to the property tax roll.

11. EHT exemptions.

The By-law provides for 8 exemptions:

(a) Major renovations.

If the home is vacant because the property is undergoing major renovations, or is under construction or redevelopment (with permits), the EHT is not payable. The EHT is not payable if the residential property:

  • was unoccupied for more than 180 days during the year in order to redevelop the property or safely carry out major renovations; and
  • was undergoing redevelopment or major renovations,
    • for which permits have been issued by the City, and
    • which, in the opinion of the City's Building Official, are being carried out diligently and without unnecessary delay.

Any period when the home is empty but the permit has not yet been issued will not be considered for the exemption. The fact that an owner has applied for a permit and the City has not yet processed it or issued it, currently does not qualify for the exemption for the period prior to the permit being issued. The period while the home is empty, or the land remains unimproved, and does not have a valid permit, will be counted towards the 180 day vacancy period and it will be considered a vacant home and subject to the EHT if the 180 day period is exceeded.

(b) Illness.

The EHT is not payable if the residential property was unoccupied for more than 180 days during the year because the occupier, tenant or subtenant is undergoing medical care or is residing in a hospital, long term or supportive care. This exemption will not be allowed for more than two consecutive years.

(c) The owner is deceased.

The EHT is not payable if the residential property is unoccupied for more than 180 days during the year because the registered owner is deceased and neither a grant of probate of the will of the deceased, nor a grant of administration of the estate of the deceased has been issued.

(d) Ownership of the property changed during the previous year.

The EHT is not payable if the title of the property was transferred during the previous year. See Ed's complete article here for examples showing the mechanics of this exemption and additional commentary.

(e) Strata Rental Restrictions.

The EHT is not payable if the residential property was unoccupied for more than 180 days during the year because:

a) the residential property is a strata unit;

b) prior to the Vacancy Tax By-law being adopted (November 16, 2016), the Strata Corporation's bylaws restricted the number of strata units that could be rented; and

c) rental of the residential property is not permitted because the maximum allowable number of permitted strata rentals for the strata development has already been reached.

(f) Homes used for work purposes.

The EHT is not payable if the residential property is not the principal residence of a registered owner during the year, but it was occupied by a registered owner for a minimum of 180 days during the year because the registered owner works in the City of Vancouver. (Note: The By-law provides the workplace must be located in the City of Vancouver, not Metro Vancouver.) This exemption will be applicable in situations such as where the owner declares their home outside of Vancouver as their principal residence, but work in Vancouver and live in their home during certain work weeks.

(g) Court order.

The EHT is not payable if the residential property was unoccupied for more than 180 days during the year solely because a court order prohibits its occupancy.

(h) Restricted property.

The EHT is not payable if the residential property was unoccupied for more than 180 days during the year because the lawful use of the property is limited to vehicle parking, or as a result of the size, shape or other inherent limitation of the parcel, a residential building cannot be constructed on the property.

12. EHT applied. What now?

If a property is subject to the EHT and the owner wishes to avoid the tax, the owner may:

  • Become a landlord by renting the property for a minimum of six months of the year, in periods of at least 30 consecutive days (ie. a month to month or fixed tenancy agreement);
  • Enlist a property management firm to rent the property for the required duration, or consider a lease with a company (e.g. a business who has employees who work periodically on Vancouver, or a film company) who can sublease or license to individuals who will occupy the home for at least 6 months of the year for periods over 30 days;
  • Invite a family member or friend to occupy the property as their principal residence for at least 6 months of the year. If the owner has a family member or friend occupy the unit, they do not have to pay rent but a rental agreement should be entered into confirming the terms of the tenancy and the occupier must occupy the property as their principal residence for at last 6 months of the year;
  • Keep the property as-is and pay the EHT; or
  • Sell the property.

13. Impact on Realtors.

Realtors acting for buyers and sellers will want to make inquiries of the seller as to the vacancy status of the property during the current and previous year. REALTORS acting for buyers will also want to consider inserting into the Contract of Purchase and Sale terms providing:

  • that the seller must provide the buyer with a copy of the completed and filed PSD;
  • that the seller will provide a statutory declaration at closing confirming the filed PSD is true and correct;
  • an express representation and warranty confirming that property has not been vacant (as defined by the By-law) for more than 180 days during the current or prior year;
  • providing that where the City has not yet determined if a property is subject if the EHT is applicable or not, provide for a holdback of the potential tax pending the City's determination;
  • where the property is clearly subject to the EHT, provide that an adjustment to be carried out by the Buyer's conveyancer and the EHT will be borne solely by the seller; and
  • Realtors who are licensed as strata managers must be aware of the way rental restriction bylaws impact the strata lots and EHT. This may over time result in changes to rental restriction bylaws and result in more administrative work on their part.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Edward L. Wilson
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.