Canadian Vacancy Tax Update

January 9, 2023

Real estate prices have increased rapidly over the last decade putting pressure on communities to provide housing solutions for families.  More jurisdictions are implementing taxes to turn vacant homes into rental properties. 

This blog summarizes recent changes to these taxes.


Announced in the 2021 budget, the Canadian federal Underused Housing Tax applies a 1% tax on vacant homes starting in 2022.  A more detailed analysis can be found in Krista Rabidoux’s blog from January 6, 2023, here.


In 2021, the City of Toronto passed the Vacant Home Tax.  Starting in February 2023, all residential property owners in Toronto are required to submit a declaration of their property’s status for 2022.   Owners confirming the property is their principal residence, is occupied as a principal residence by a permitted occupant or tenant for six months or more throughout the year or qualifies for other exemptions (examples include renovations, medical conditions or sale of the property) are not subject to the tax.  All other owners pay a tax of 1% of the assessed value of the property based on the property’s status in 2022.


Ottawa passed the Vacant Unit Tax in 2022. Similar to the City of Toronto Vacant Homes Tax, starting with the 2022 tax year owners pay a tax of 1% of the assessed value of the property if it is unoccupied for an aggregate of more than 184 days in the prior year.  Similar exemptions for occupancy, rent, renovations, medical conditions or sale of the property apply.

Other Ontario Regions

The City of Hamilton plans to pass empty homes tax legislation effective in 2024 for the 2023 year.  Both the Peel and York regions are debating passing similar laws.


The City of Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax has been in effect since 2017.  Applying to properties in the City of Vancouver only[1]The tax rate started in 2017 at 1% of the assessed value of the property and will rise to 5% starting in 2023.

British Columbia

The Speculation and Vacancy Tax was introduced in 2018.  It requires specified homeowners in certain regions of the province to pay a 0.5% tax on the assessed value of their property.  Higher rates ranging from 1% to 2% apply to nonresidents of BC and nonresidents of Canada.  The occupation, rental and exemption rules are different than Vancouver’s Empty Homes Tax.  The tax includes measures to assess the tax on families that occupy the property but do not have more than half of their total family income subject to Canadian income tax.

The taxable regions initially include metropolitan Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, parts of Vancouver Island and the Okanagan. In 2022, the province expanded the taxable regions to include Lions Bay, Squamish and additional Vancouver Island communities including North Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith and Lake Cowichan. 


Starting in 2023, a U.S. resident owning a vacation condominium overlooking Stanley Park in downtown Vancouver could see federal, provincial and city taxes totaling 8% of the property’s assessed value.  If you own Canadian property and want to discuss these taxes and how they may apply to you, please contact us.

[1] Neighboring cities such as Burnaby, Richmond and the University Endowment Lands, along with other cities outside the City of Vancouver, are excluded from this tax.