The talk of an empty homes tax in Vancouver is to become a reality. The city council says that it will be introduced by January 1, 2017.

"The City won’t sit on the sidelines while over 20,000 empty and under-occupied properties hold back homes for renters struggling to find an affordable and secure place to live,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

The city will discuss further details at a meeting next week but it has already given some details.

The tax will be 1 per cent of a home’s value and with many homes in the city costing more than $1 million, it would mean a charge of at least $10,000. However, principal homes will be exempt – good news for snowbirds – and there will also be exemptions for homes rented out for at least 30-days in a row for at least 6 months of the year.

Homes that are being renovated or where owners are receiving medical treatment will also escape the tax.

Those who try to avoid the tax by not declaring their property as empty would face a penalty of up to $10,000 per day until they comply.

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