Ottawa’s vacant unit tax (VUT) is raking in millions more than expected, leaving some residents and one city councillor wondering whether it’s a fix for the housing crisis or simply a cash grab.

The tax charges one per cent of the assessed value of homes left unoccupied for six months or more within one year. It’s meant to push property owners to either put those units up for sale or rent them to address the city’s housing shortage.

When council approved the tax two years ago, it was expected to bring in about $6.6 million per year. But city staff now say last year’s revenue haul came to $11.5 million.

Orléans East-Cumberland Coun. Matt Luloff, a longstanding critic of the tax, asked staff for that information through a formal inquiry. He didn’t like what he heard.

“I don’t think that this program is truly doing what it was meant to do, which is to free up rental units — not to become a new income source for the City of Ottawa,” said Luloff.

Luloff said he hasn’t seen a clear measure of whether the tax is actually getting vacant homes back on the market. He also asked staff for more detailed information about how the revenue is being spent.

Staff responded that all of the money goes to fund affordable housing initiatives, minus about $2.3 million spent to administer the program, though they promised to get Luloff additional details.

  • streetfestival
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    25
    ·
    2 months ago

    If the tax brings in twice the expected revenue, maybe the vacancy’s more of an issue than the city realized

    If you’re representing wealth, you get a microphone in the mainstream media, regardless of the quality of your ideas

    • BedSharkPalOP
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      14
      ·
      2 months ago

      And with most of that money going to fund affordable housing initiatives, yeah sorry Matt, sounds like the program is working great.

    • sik0fewl
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      12
      ·
      1 month ago

      It sounds like they may need to increase the tax if it’s not punitive enough.

      • streetfestival
        link
        fedilink
        English
        arrow-up
        9
        ·
        1 month ago

        Indeed! They also need to observe the tax’s effect on the availability of rental units for multiple years to evaluate how it’s working. Data after 1 year aren’t that meaningful in this case

  • BedSharkPalOP
    link
    fedilink
    arrow-up
    17
    arrow-down
    1
    ·
    edit-2
    2 months ago

    This Matt Luloff sounds like a bit of a goof to me on this one.

    • rozodru
      link
      fedilink
      arrow-up
      9
      ·
      1 month ago

      curious to know how many properties Mr. Luloff owns…

  • AutoTL;DR@lemmings.worldB
    link
    fedilink
    English
    arrow-up
    2
    ·
    2 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:


    Ottawa’s vacant unit tax (VUT) is raking in millions more than expected, leaving some residents and one city councillor wondering whether it’s a fix for the housing crisis or simply a cash grab.

    It’s meant to push property owners to either put those units up for sale or rent them to address the city’s housing shortage.

    “I don’t think that this program is truly doing what it was meant to do, which is to free up rental units — not to become a new income source for the City of Ottawa,” said Luloff.

    Staff responded that all of the money goes to fund affordable housing initiatives, minus about $2.3 million spent to administer the program, though they promised to get Luloff additional details.

    but owns two rental properties in Ottawa, and said she didn’t declare they were occupied due to what she called “a perfect storm” of circumstances.

    In its response to Luloff, the city noted that the overwhelming majority of homeowners did declare by the deadline this year.


    The original article contains 911 words, the summary contains 167 words. Saved 82%. I’m a bot and I’m open source!