The City of Toronto is about to decide whether or not to implement a vacant home tax, which could help transition thousands of existing homes into the rental supply.
We're working hard to encourage City Councillors to pass the tax, which would be Canada's second (Vancouver is implementing an Empty Home Tax this year).
In just a few weeks and with help from our friends at Care 2, nearly 3,000 of us signed the petition calling on Toronto's Mayor & Councillors to to pass a vacant home tax!
Hundreds of us participated in the City's consultations, in person and by filling out an online survey.
We engaged with the City directly, writing a letter to the City of Toronto’s Executive Committee to encourage the tax
We’ll officially deliver our petition to Council at their meeting on October 2nd. We've only got a few days left. Help get more people involved!
Once we deliver the petition, we'll start writing letters! But first thing's first. Help get more people involved while we still have time.
Right now, too many houses are being used primarily as investments -- a place to park money -- instead of a place to call home. A vacant home tax would encourage owners to sell or rent unoccupied units, increasing supply and driving down prices. This isn’t a silver bullet, but it’s a necessary and bold step towards solving the housing crisis.
With any policy, the devil’s in the details. Here're our three specific recommendations:
- Require all owners to submit a mandatory declaration about the vacancy status of their unit(s). This is the current practice in Vancouver and given the options, the most accurate way to identify as many empty homes as possible. Voluntary or complaint-based declarations could enable greater tax evasion and fraud, undermining the fairness of the proposed tax, as well as its ability to increase the supply of homes available for rental or purchase.
- Set the vacant home tax at 1% of current value assessment ($5,000 for a home assessed at $500,000). This approximates the rate of taxation that someone would pay on commercial real estate. When people aren't using their houses as homes, they are using their real estate as a commercial endeavour. We are encouraging the city of Toronto to tax such real estate accordingly.
- Consider a unit to be vacant if not resided in for at least six months/year. Short-term rentals of less than 30 consecutive days shouldn’t count toward the six month metric. This is in line with the City of Toronto’s recent commitment to regulate short term rentals.
In the government of Ontario's Fair Housing Plan, announced last April, municipalities were given the power to implement a vacant home tax. Now, it’s up to Toronto City Council to decide if they’ll take this crucial step.