Canada’s Peel Region exploring vacant home tax to create more affordable housing

Representative image of vacant home in Brampton.

Brampton/IBNS: Vacant Home Tax as a possible new way to address the affordability crisis including rising home prices and limited availability of homes for sale or rent is reportedly being explored by the Peel Region of Ontario.

In a news release issued Wednesday, the region said the tax could discourage speculative behavior in the market and generate new revenue sources for the municipality.

“The region may be able to encourage owners of vacant properties to either sell or rent out their units,” the statement said.

“This increases the supply of units on the market which should lower average property sale and rent prices, improving the affordability of housing in the region.”

A vacant home tax is generally applied to a property that is vacant for at least six months in a calendar year, the statement said.  

Implementation of this tax could not only encourage owners of vacant properties to either sell or rent out their empty units but would also lead to an increasing supply of available units which could lower the average property sale and rent price.

According to the calculations, an average family can take 26 years to save a down payment for current home prices and 51 years for a family earning minimum wage. Research suggests that a vacant home tax is one of many tools that can contribute to easing the affordable housing crisis in the shorter term.

An online survey where the public can provide their input can be found on the Region of Peel website will be available until May 16. Consultation sessions will also be held on April 26 and May 3.

Officials also said that revenue generated from the tax, while not mandated by law, could be used to support rent relief programs, build and maintain affordable housing, and provide grants for non-profits that help the community.

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