The City of Vancouver wants your opinion on how to tackle the issue of empty homes.
Beginning today, residents can weigh in on an online survey on the issue.
The survey asks how serious of a problem people consider empty homes, along with thoughts on several policy options to try and keep units occupied.
Among them: taxing short term investors, blocking strata bans on rentals, and boosting property taxes for unoccupied homes.
The Vancouver charter bars the city from legislating on occupancy, so any policy changes would need provincial support.
Empty home study
The survey comes in the wake of a study of empty homes commissioned by the city in March.
That survey, which used electricity consumption to measure occupancy, found 10,800 of 225,000 homes in the city were left unoccupied for a year or more.
That adds up to a rate of about 4.8%, which it found was steady from 2002.
90% of the empty homes identified were condos, and the report suggested if they were to be rented, Vancouver’s rental vacancy rate (currently under one percent) could be boosted to about 10%.
The report did not touch on who owned the homes, or why they were vacant.
Some critics also charge the results were artificially low, as they did not take into account homes waiting to be demolished or occupied with their power disconnected, homes which are only seasonally occupied, or empty homes with caretakers that used power several times a month.