Photo: Craig Paterson/Flickr

The results are in on the total amount of empty homes in Vancouver.

For the 2017 tax year, 8,481 unoccupied or under-utilized homes are possibly subject to the new one per cent Empty Homes Tax in the city.

This total not only includes homes that were declared vacant, but also properties that claimed one of the many exemptions to the tax and properties that were undeclared.

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Also known as the Vacancy Tax, the levy was approved by Vancouver city council in November 2016 to commence in the 2017 tax year. According to the City, the tax was implemented to return empty properties in the city to use as long-term rental homes.

“We brought in an Empty Homes Tax because Vancouver has a near-zero vacancy rate and many people are struggling to find a place to rent,” says Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, in a press release published Wednesday.

The City considers an empty home to be one that has been unoccupied for more than 180 days during the tax year.

More than 98 per cent (183,911) of Vancouverites submitted their Empty Homes Tax property status declarations by the March 5 deadline.

Properties will not be subject to the tax if they are declared as principal residences, rented for at least six months of the year or if it qualifies for one of the exemptions, including second homes that were occupied for at least half of the year because the homeowner worked in the city.

Properties that declared an exemption could still be subject to the tax but that will depend on city approval.

Out of the 8,481 unoccupied or under-utilized homes, 2,132 properties were left undeclared by the tax deadline, and therefore were deemed vacant and subject to the levy.

When broken down by property type, condos account for 60 per cent of the vacant properties, while 33.5 per cent are single-family homes and nearly six per cent are categorized as multi-family/other properties.

The largest number of unoccupied or under-utilized homes was recorded in Downtown Vancouver with a total of 2,244 properties. Meantime, the West End and Shaughnessy had the highest percentages of empty homes out of all the declared properties in the city, with eight per cent of the total number of homes recorded in both areas.

The deadline to pay the 2017 Empty Homes Tax is April 16, 2018. The City says net revenues from the levy will be reinvested into local affordable housing initiatives.

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