Vancouver warns homeowners to fill in forms on empty homes tax or risk fine

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is warning homeowners if they fail to declare their property status by Feb. 2, they will face the city’s empty homes tax plus a $250 fine.

The tax is one per cent of a home’s assessed value.

It affects any property that is not a principal residence and is not occupied for six months a year.

Robertson says property owners can expect to receive instructions in the mail starting this week on how to make their declarations.

He says there is a $10,000 fine for false declarations and the city is in the process of setting up an enforcement system that will include hiring staff in the new year.

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada and is aimed at freeing up as many as 20,000 units for rent as the city’s vacancy rate hovers near zero.

Robertson says the city must do everything it can to ease the housing crunch, and it’s also proceeding with a plan to open 600 new units of temporary modular housing for the homeless.