Canada: The Vacancy Tax: All You Need To Know About The City Of Vancouver's Empty Homes Tax

Last Updated: January 10 2018
Article by Dharam Dhillon and Gavyn Backus

In 2016, the British Columbia provincial government, under Vacancy Tax Bylaw No. 11674 (the "Bylaw"), implemented an empty homes tax (the "Vacancy Tax") on certain properties located in the City of Vancouver (the "City"). The Vacancy Tax became effective on January 1, 2017 and has two main goals: 1) reduce the number of empty or under-utilized properties in the City, and 2) relieve pressure from the City's rental housing market by increasing the number of rental properties available, thereby decreasing the rental costs in the City.

This bulletin is meant to explain the Bylaw so that all registered owners of Residential Property (as defined below) in the City ("Homeowners") can ensure they are adhering to the requirements of the Bylaw and determine if their property is subject to the Vacancy Tax.

Who does the Vacancy Tax apply to?

The Vacancy Tax requires all Homeowners to submit a property status declaration ("Declaration") each year to determine if their property is subject to the Vacancy Tax.

All Homeowners, regardless of whether they live on their property or not, must submit a Declaration for the year ended 2017 by February 2, 2018. If the Vacancy Tax is payable, payment from the Homeowner is required by April 16, 2018. Any unpaid amounts thereafter will be added to the Homeowner's property tax bill on December 31, 2018.

What does the Vacancy Tax apply to?

As a starting point, the Vacancy Tax applies to all Taxable Property, which is defined in the Bylaw as Residential Property that is:

  • Vacant Property (as defined below);
  • not exempt from taxation under section 373 of the Vancouver Charter; and
  • not exempt from the Vacancy Tax under the Bylaw (discussed below).

In order to determine if property is Taxable Property, making the Vacancy Tax payable, a Homeowner must navigate through various definitions and concepts contained in the Bylaw, including those which are described below.

Residential Property is defined in the Bylaw as real property classified as class 1 property (residential) under the Assessment Act. This includes, but is not limited to, single family residences, duplexes, multi-family residences, apartments and condominiums.

Vacant Property, according to the Bylaw, is Residential Property that:

  • has been Unoccupied (as defined below) for more than 180 days during the Vacancy Reference Period (as defined below); or
  • is deemed to be Vacant Property in accordance with the Bylaw.

Unoccupied, according to the Bylaw, refers to:

  • Residential Property that is not the Principal Residence of an Occupier (as defined below); or
  • Residential Property that is not occupied by a tenant or subtenant for a term of at least 30 consecutive days.

Principal Residence is defined in the Bylaw 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.

Occupier is defined in the Bylaw as a Homeowner or a person who occupies Residential Property with the permission of the Homeowner but is not a tenant or subtenant.

Vacancy Reference Period is defined in the Bylaw as the twelve months of a tax year, which for the City refers to the period of time from January 1 to December 31 of each year.

For the purposes of the Vacancy Tax, Residential Property is deemed to be Vacant Property if the Homeowner:

  • fails to make a Declaration;
  • makes a false Declaration;
  • fails to provide information or to submit required evidence to the Collector of Taxes in accordance with the Bylaw; or
  • provides false information or submits false evidence to the Collector of Taxes.

What is the Vacancy Tax rate and how is it calculated?

The rate of the Vacancy Tax is 1% of the taxable assessed value of a parcel of Taxable Property.

What exemptions from the Vacancy Tax are available for Homeowners?

  • A Homeowner will not be required to pay the Vacancy Tax if the Homeowner's Residential Property was Unoccupied for more than 180 days during the Vacancy Reference Period:
  • because the Homeowner 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 provided;
  • in order to redevelop the property or safely carry out major renovations, for which permits have been issued by the City and which, in the opinion of the City, are being carried out diligently and without unnecessary delay;
  • because the Occupier, tenant or subtenant has been undergoing medical care or has been residing in a hospital, long term or supportive care, except that such exemption shall not be allowed for more than two consecutive Vacancy Reference Periods;
  • because the Residential Property is a strata unit in a strata development, prior to the date of enactment of the Bylaw, and the by-laws of the strata restricted the number of strata units that may be rented, and 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;
  • solely because a court order has prohibits its occupancy; or
  • the lawful use of the property in question 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 parcel.

Additionally, a Homeowner will not be required to pay the Vacancy Tax if:

  • title to the Residential Property in question was transferred during the applicable Vacancy Reference Period; or
  • the Residential Property is not the Principal Residence of a Homeowner but was Occupied by such Homeowner for a minimum of 180 days during the Vacancy Reference Period because the Homeowner worked in the City.


The Bylaw is complicated and contains a number of fines and penalties that are applicable to Homeowners that fail to adhere to its requirements. These include a 5% penalty on all amounts remaining unpaid in relation to the Vacancy Tax as of the 10th business day of April of the year in which they become due and payable. Furthermore, any person who is convicted of an offence under the Bylaw is punishable on conviction by a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $10,000 for each offense. As such, when dealing with the Vacancy Tax and/or the Bylaw, we recommend seeking legal advice for any clarification and instructions that you may require.

The foregoing provides only an overview and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are cautioned against making any decisions based on this material alone. Rather, specific legal advice should be obtained.

© McMillan LLP 2018

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.

Dharam Dhillon
Gavyn Backus
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Lawson Lundell LLP
Miller Thomson LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
McCarthy Tétrault LLP
Lawson Lundell LLP
Miller Thomson LLP
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions