Vacant Unit Tax by-law aims to increase housing supply

This post, from April 24, has information on the City’s new Vacant Unit Tax by-law.

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

A new City of Hamilton residential Vacant Unit Tax (VUT) by-law aims to increase the supply of housing in the City by encouraging residential property owners to keep their properties occupied rather than vacant.

For more details, please continue reading below…

The new by-law requires property owners to submit a declaration to the City at the beginning of each year regarding the occupancy of their residential properties.

Beginning in 2025, non-exempt vacant residential properties will be charged one per cent of the property’s assessed value, which will be added to the tax roll and collected the same way as their property taxes. Net revenue generated from the tax will be reinvested into affordable housing initiatives.

The VUT declaration period will be open from January until March 31 of each year, starting in 2025. Property owners will receive a letter from the City of Hamilton in December of the prior year with instructions on how to submit their declaration and submission deadlines.

All residential property owners will be required to submit the occupancy declaration, which is based on the previous year’s occupancy status. It applies to all properties that are classified as residential (that contain six units or less) and have a property code that is eligible as defined in the by-law.

A residential unit will be considered vacant if it has been unoccupied for more than 183 days in the previous calendar year or is deemed to be vacant under the by-law.

However, there are some exemptions, including principal residences, owners of eligible non-profit housing units, death of the owner, homes under renovation, sale of the property or if the owner is in medical care.

Following the declaration period, properties may be selected for audit, and if selected, the owner will be required to provide proof of the residential unit’s status for the year it was declared. The by-law will include provisions for non-compliance such as penalties for failure to pay, fines for various offences and a dispute resolution process.

This new by-law updates a previous version considered by Council in 2023.

The community will continue to receive ongoing communications before and throughout the declaration period including updates to the City’s website, social media channels and in local advertising.

Questions or concerns?

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our office here.

Councillor John-Paul Danko