Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate Gregor Robertson has proposed that Vancouver implement a speculator tax to deter condo speculation. In this case speculation is defined by the condo unit being left vacant rather than by flipping or simply taking on more debt than you can handle based on the hope of future gains.
Robertson justifies the need for this tax by referring to the BC Hydro grow-op study that found 18,000 vacant condos in Vancouver, which is equal to half the total number of condos in the Downtown Westend. This number is said not to include units that are part-time occupied as second homes or vacation properties, only units that use no electricity through the year.
The obvious difficulty comes in defining the criteria by which condos would be taxed at the business rate. Taxes on speculation are often based on ‘flipping’ rather than holding an empty condo. How do you determine if a condo truly is empty? Would there be penalties for ‘faking’ occupancy? What are your thoughts on this proposal, would it help or hurt the Vancouver housing market?