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Empty Home on Your Street? City of Vancouver May Soon Have a Website for That

VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver plans to develop a new website in a bid to tackle the growing issue of vacant homes.


It will be a digital service where the public can report vacant homes "in a coherent fashion," according to a memo from the city's chief housing officer, Mukhtar Latif, which was made public Sunday.


Addresses of empty residences will be matched up with BC Hydro data, the memo adds.


“There is significant public interest in the issue of homes being left vacant given affordability challenges across the housing continuum and very low rental vacancy rates together with the impact on vibrancy of neighbourhoods," wrote Latif.


Latif has identified reasons why homes are being left vacant in a list that shows how difficult it is to get a handle on this hot topic.


In the memo sent to the mayor and council, the following factors were listed:

* Development timing (housing units that are vacant prior to demolition or following new construction pending sale and initial occupation).


* Property is in the process of being rented or sold.


* Property has been vacated in anticipation of being renovated.


* “Flipping” (housing units that are bought, renovated, and sold in a short period of time, with no real ability for rental prior to sale).


* Domestic investment property – pending decision whether to rent or leave vacant for a later sale.


* International investment property — pending decision whether to rent or leave vacant for a later sale.

* Probate.


* Hoteling (owner works in the city but has a long commute so has purchased a property to reside in during the week and is in primary residence at other times).


* Sabbatical/Snowbirds (through work, retirement or other reasons, owner is traveling or working abroad.

* Owner is in hospital or in care.


While there is some limited research about empty condos, Latif said “we have had difficulty in identifying data sources that can provide the exact numbers of vacant single family homes, length of time properties are being left vacant and reasons for why they are vacant."


His memo said the City is seeking a consultant to help it investigate and applications for the RFP close on May 12.


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