After my last post, in which I criticized the foreign buyer tax in BC as being unfair to those who it caught retroactively, I received this email from an American buyer who’s been caught in its net. Pretty sad situation. His name is Nic Benner. He gave me permission to reproduce his letter in full:
BC Legislature Housing Decision affecting families who want to live here.
The BC legislature approved a law recently that forces my family to either come up with almost $80,000 or forfeit more than $25,000 just because I, an American, agreed to buy a house here when I was offered a job to live in this great place but don’t have permanent residency. Would you be willing to help me out by writing ONE letter so I don’t have to explain to my wife and my four daughters why we cannot move into our home that is being built?
I recently moved my family, with four great kids, to the Vancouver area and we are in temporary housing for a few months, having signed a contract on a modest townhome back in May. At that time there was no extra tax in place that would lead me to believe that my binding contract would be in any danger of being able to be fulfilled. The townhouse is being built and won’t be finished for a few months still, but at this time, we are between a rock and a hard place.
I have reached out to legislators with a proposal which I think would be fair, and have yet to hear back from them regarding that proposal, but the BC government based this decision on the premise that 90% of the population support their law.
Look, I know something needs to be done about the cost of housing here, but I see a very big disconnect in the reported 90% number and the percentage of people with whom I speak who believe that this law should affect my family the way it currently does. Of those with whom I have spoken who are ‘locals’, I have had 0% tell me that they agree with the law affecting me and my family who lives here while I am working here to help a Canadian company succeed.
I understand that the legislators are looking to the input of their constituents for justification to make a change to what was so hastily put in place, and if my experience is accurate, much less than 90% of the BC population would support this law affecting my family, and others like my family who are trying to live and work here the way that it does. For those who had existing contracts on homes before the law was enacted and are the original assignee of the contract, I ask that we be given a chance to be given an exception to the additional burden of the Foreign Transfer Tax once our homes are complete so we can fulfill the commitment we made when we signed the contract.
The law is unfair in that it was applied retroactively to people who had already contracted in good faith. I feel sorry for this family that now has to come up with more money or risk losing their deposit and potentially being sued.
I’ll bet there’s quite a few people in the same situation. Nic is asking those of you who live in BC to write to your MLA and ask that the law be changed to exempt those who were already under contract when it was enacted. This was a hasty solution that should be changed; not fair to those folks like Nic, whose family is now facing a significant hardship. So if you have a moment, drop your MLA a line and say so.