Local residents support vacant home tax in Oakville, Milton, Burlington

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Published November 22, 2023 at 12:38 pm

The implementation of a vacant home tax in Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills continues to move forward at Halton Region.

Councillors heard an update from staff, following up on a request first made in April, 2022. The report presented at today’s (Nov. 22) meeting offered results of public engagement as well as a look at how other municipalities deal with the issue.

Beginning last November, surveys of Halton residents and stakeholders show more than half agreed or strongly agreed that vacant homes are contributing to the local housing shortage.

In addition, the majority of respondents supported a tax rate of at least five per cent of homes vacant for more than six months.

“Overall, the respondents of the survey who favoured the vacant homes tax noted it would improve the property standards in neighbourhoods, reduce foreign ownership and reduce short-term rentals,” reads the report.

“However, some respondents expressed extreme concern with being compelled to take on tenants given delays and backlog issues with the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board and the lack of protection for landlords renting out their property. Respondents opposed to the tax also commented they felt there was a lack of justification for the tax, and the tax was too administratively burdensome and could be too easily evaded to be worthwhile.”

Municipalities that have instituted a vacant home tax include Toronto, Ottawa and Hamilton. Others, however, have declined to do so, questioning their effectiveness or the uncertainty caused by Bill 112.

“Staff will continue working closely with local municipalities and anticipate bringing forward the potential Halton Region VHT Program Framework for council’s consideration in 2024.”

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