By Minister and Deputy Premier Carole James
Years of inaction on the B.C. housing crisis led to sky-high housing prices, drove people out of our province, hurt our communities, and hurt the businesses that create good jobs across the province.
Our government is making different choices.
We’re taking strong steps to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable housing for people in our province. We’ve made the largest investment in housing in B.C. history— more than $7 billion over 10 years.
And we’re working to moderate the market while increasing supply, curbing speculative demand and tackling fraud in B.C.’s real estate market.
The Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) is a critical part of our work to restore housing affordability in B.C that the vast majority of British Columbians support. It stops people from using BC’s housing market as a stock market, turns empty houses into homes for people, and raises revenue that will directly support affordable housing. Over 99% of British Columbians will be exempt, but just like the Homeowner Grant, you need to declare to claim your exemption.
If you own property in one of the areas where the SVT applies, you will receive information in the mail before the end of February. Owners can start declaring for the SVT as soon as they receive their letter, and it’s easy to do– either by phone or online. That will help ensure that people who don’t live or pay tax here pay their fair share. This is essential in ensuring that we can tackle the housing affordability crisis in our province.
Cracking down on speculation in the real estate sector is a necessary step forward to tackling the housing affordability crisis, and making life better for people in B.C.
It will take time and work to address the housing crisis, which is why we have taken bold steps to make it easier for people to find good homes they can afford. We have closed unfair loopholes that were making renting harder and more expensive. And as part of our 30-point housing plan, we are building 14,000 new affordable homes for low and middle-income individuals, seniors and families, which is our first step to building 114,000 homes for people over the next 10 years.
To help renters, we are cutting the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, while increasing funding to the Residential Tenancy Branch. We also closed the fixed-term lease and the geographic loopholes, which gives renters more protection from unfair evictions and rent increases.
For our province to succeed, the people who work here need to be able to afford to live here too. We’re going to keep working hard to tackle the housing crisis and make life more affordable for the people who live here. Because when it comes to choosing between British Columbians struggling to afford a home, and real estate speculators – our government will choose hardworking British Columbians each and every time.