Right now, the City of Toronto is consulting residents about what a vacant home tax could look like and whether it should be implemented. This measure could be a game changer that helps cool Toronto’s sizzling housing market, but only if we make it loud and clear that residents support the tax.
A vacant home tax has the potential to quickly transition thousands of existing homes into the rental supply, and at no cost to the public purse.
Over the summer, GenSqueeze has been liaising with the City of Toronto to encourage the tax. As part of the current consultation phase, we suggested the following for discussion:
- The rate of vacancy taxation be approximately the difference between residential and business property tax rates.
- A home would be considered vacant if not resided in for at least six months.
- Short-term rentals of less than 30 consecutive days do not count toward the six months metric.
- The City of Toronto adopt the range of exemptions from the six month requirement that have been created in Vancouver.
- The tax be designed so that there is a mandatory declaration about the vacancy status from all units, as is now the practice in Vancouver.
Time and again, the GenSqueeze community has leapt into action to help pass bold legislation. We helped pass Vancouver’s vacant home tax last November. Just a few months ago, we mobilized and played a key role in shaping the Ontario Government’s Fair Housing Plan, which included a measure that gives municipalities the power to implement a vacant home tax.
The Code Red housing crisis is complex and there are no silver bullet solutions, but a vacant home tax is a necessary and bold step toward a comprehensive solution.