Headway on Housing Affordability

Nov 01, 2018

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Posted by
Matt Mayers
Policy Analyst

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Market housing affordability matters to everyone. British Columbians in communities of all sizes need more options for housing that is affordable, safe and appropriate to their family needs.

While there's no magic solution, BCREA believes government and the private sector can work together to build a comprehensive plan that’s effective and fair. In our submission to MLAs (Tax Fairness to Balance the Needs of Owners and New Buyers), we made several recommendations, including that the provincial government:

  • Increase the First-Time Buyers' Program Property Transfer Tax (PTT) exemption threshold, so first-time buyers have more options.
  • Index the PTT thresholds and make adjustments annually to keep pace with the market.
  • Expand the exemption for the additional foreign buyer PTT to include everyone with a work permit in BC.
  • Maintain the current geographical scope and rate of the addition foreign buyer PTT.

On October 16, the Speculation and Vacancy Tax bill was introduced. BCREA was pleased to see extensive exemptions for development land, and we urge the government to apply the same thinking to the additional school tax in 2019.

We also welcome the expected amendments agreed to between the BC NDP and BC Green Party. BCREA believes all homeowners who pay income tax in Canada should be exempt from the Speculation and Vacancy Tax. Although that recommendation hasn’t been accepted, we’re pleased that all Canadians will be treated equally and will only be subject to the lowest rate of 0.5 per cent.

Rental housing is another important component of affordability, and BCREA recognizes that many renters struggle to find homes that fit their budgets. However, the BC Government’s decision to decrease the maximum annual allowable rent increase to inflation instead of 2 per cent plus inflation seems short sighted. If landlords can’t afford to maintain their properties, or decide to remove their units from the rental market, renters are left with fewer choices.

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