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On November 25, 2020 City Council directed City staff to increase the Empty Homes Tax (EHT) rate to 3%. The rate will remain at the original 1.25% for the 2020 tax reference year. Properties deemed empty are subject to the tax on their assessed taxable value. Keep reading to learn more about the EHT tax rate and what it means for homeowners and renters! 


MOTIVE BEHIND THE EHT 

The motive behind the EHT is to encourage homeowners of vacant properties to place empty homes on the market as long-term rentals. Council is standing up for renters by raising the tax rate in order to increase the housing supply of rental properties in the city. Many homes currently remain empty the additional increase in the EHT tax will hopefully motivate owners to finally put these homes on the rental market.  


HISTORY OF THE EHT 

The EHT launched in 2017 and since then has been raised twice. In 2019 the rate was raised for the first time from 1% to the current rate of 1.25%. From the initial 1% rate the EHT will have tripled by 2021 at the new announced 3% tax rate. Vancouver home owners are required to submit a declaration each year to determine if their property is subject to the EHT. Council has approved a one-time extension for late declarations for the 2017 and 2018 vacancy reference periods to December 31, 2020. 


EHT INITIATIVES 

Net revenues from the tax are being reinvested into affordable housing initiatives. Since 2017, $61.3 million of net revenues from the EHT contributions have been provided to Vancouver’s affordable housing initiatives. Revenue collected was first used to cover the one-time implementation costs of $7.5 million and estimated annual operating costs of $2.5 million. Since the tax was implemented in 2017 the number of vacant properties has decreased by 25%. 

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Chances are, the attic isn't the most popular room in your home, but that doesn't mean it needs to sit there gathering dust and cobwebs! Especially given the current work/study/play from home situation at the moment, a little bit of extra space can go miles, whether it be a quiet study nook or children's playroom that you're looking for. Updating your attic look also has the advantage of transforming your resale value! 


 A HOME OFFICE ABOVE ALL THE HUBBUB

Are you constantly trying to find a blank wall to serve as the background for a video meeting? Is it impossible to get a few minutes of peace and quiet to find your focus? A little bit of remodeling and redecorating can transform your attic into a private space designated for work. If you've got students in the house, this can double as a cozy study spot free from distractions. 


A PLAYROOM FOR THE YOUNG ONES

Horror movies tend to do attics a little dirty, but they can be just as inviting as any other space in the home with a little love and care. With the entire family at home, it might be tedious to have to constantly transform communal spaces from playroom to home gym all the time. By providing an established space for playing, studying, and learning, children can benefit from having their own allotted spaces and even begin to take on certain responsibilities. 


A GUEST SUITE FOR YOUR VISITORS

If you have a large family or enjoy hosting, a studio apartment is a popular way to create a hospitable space for any guests while increasing privacy for all parties involved. For longer stays, including a bathroom and kitchenette is the smart way to go to ensure everything necessarry is covered. During quieter times of the year, you'll also have the option to rent out the suite for additional income. Definitely something to think about!

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