When buying or selling a property, there are numerous factors that influence how smoothly your transaction goes. With the introduction of the Vacant Unit Tax in Ottawa, there is now one more thing to think about when it comes to your real estate dealings.

In March of 2022, the Ottawa City Council voted to pass the Vacant Unit Tax bylaw. It imposes a 1% tax on vacant units, that is, residential properties that are not being used as the owner’s primary place of residence. The tax applies to any property that has been vacant for more than 184 days in a calendar year.

An exemption may apply but it must be declared to the City of Ottawa. The exemptions include but are not limited to:

  • Death of a registered owner of the property;
  • The property owner was in hospital or long term care;
  • Specific court orders prohibiting residency at the property;
  • Extended renovations or construction;
  • The property was used as a cottage rental with a valid permit for at least 100 days.

As of the time of writing this post, it’s estimated around 330,00 residents will need to declare the status of their property. This bylaw is meant to encourage available housing and to provide money to the city for housing initiatives as well as other city works.

What does this mean for me when buying and selling?

Put simply, this means there will be one more thing that needs to be checked off in order to sell property. Your lawyer should recommend having evidence that you have properly completed and filed your occupancy declaration by the required deadline to provide to the purchaser.

When purchasing a property, the same applies but in reverse. Your lawyer should request proof that the occupancy declaration has been filed by the seller.


Reproduction of this blog is permitted if the author is credited.  If you have questions or if you would like more information, please call us at 613 836-9915. This blog is not intended to be legal advice but contains general information.  Please consult a lawyer or other professional to determine how the information in this blog might apply to you.

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