Toronto Still Exploring Implementation of Vacant Homes Tax

property taxes
Photo by Shubham Sharan on Unsplash

As Toronto residents continue to deal with the affordable housing crisis, increasing rents, and a lack of rental units, all of which combine to make it very hard to find housing, city council is still exploring the idea of implementing a tax on vacant homes.

During a budget committee meeting on Tuesday, a motion from Councillor Brad Bradford asking the city’s chief financial officer to complete a report on the possible implementation of a vacant-home tax by the second quarter of 2020 was approved.

“After it’s success in Vancouver, it’s time for Toronto to investigate a Vacant Homes Tax. It will improve supply in the housing market, reduce vacancies in our neighbourhoods, and generate much-needed revenue,” said Bradford, who represents Ward 19, Beaches-East York.

Essentially, a vacant home tax is designed to ensure more units are made available to rent by taxing owners of properties that are not being fully used or are sitting vacant, and in turn, making more properties available for rent.

A home vacancy tax was introduced in Vancouver in 2018, with an implemented 1% property tax on homes sitting empty. The tax generated $40 million last year and the number of vacant units has decreased by 22% from the previous year.

READ: Employers Could Be the Solution to Fixing Toronto’s Housing Crisis: Report

Councillor Joe Cressy has also voiced his support for the tax.

“Toronto has approximately three times as many residential units than Vancouver,” said Cressy in a statement addressing the city’s housing crisis.

“If revenue can be reinvested into affordable housing initiatives like it has been in Vancouver, we will increase both housing affordability and the number of homes that go back on the market.”

“We need to put the needs of residents before the needs of real estate investors who are making huge profits by sitting on empty units.”

The report from the city’s chief financial officer will provide a thorough analysis of a vacant home tax, including the impact one has on the supply of affordable housing and rental vacancy rates in other jurisdictions and whether a vacant home tax could achieve the objectives of increasing the supply of affordable housing and increasing rental vacancy rates in Toronto.

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