When the province announced the new First Time New Home Buyers Rebate associated with the HST rebates, they tightened the definition of “First Time Home Buyer” (see my post here for more information on the rebates). This tighter definition indicates that the government is looking more closely at (ie; auditing) who is a “first time” home buyer. This higher degree of oversight is also supported by recent changes to the Property Transfer Tax Form which required a Buyer to DECLARE the following:

  1. Have you owned an interest in a principal residence (where you lived) anywhere in the world?
  2. Have you ever recieved a British Columbia (BC) first time home buyer’s exemption or refund?
  3. On the date of registration, are you a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident as defined in the Immigration and Refugeee Protection Act (Canada)?
  4. Have you continuously resided in BC for at least one year immediately prior to the date of registration or filed income tax returns as a BC resident during the six year before the date of registration?
See the new form here:

If the Buyer makes a FALSE DECLARATION, the Minister of Finance may charge a penalty equal to DOUBLE THE TAX.

Also, the Buyer MUST qualify as a first time home buyer (above) and the they must purchase a “Qualifying Property”:

  1. Fair Market Value is less than $475,000 (for full exemption)
  2. Land is less than 0.5 hectares in size
  3. Property used as Principal Residence
And, the Buyer MUST actually occupy the home:
  1. Must move into the home within 92 days of the date of registration (unless vacant land, then must move in within 1 year)
  2. Must continually occupy as principal residence for one year from the date of registration.
The form changes and the recent legislative attention to this issue likely will result in greater audit attention to this area. First Time Home Buyers should ensure they meet all the criteria: as a Buyer, with a Qualifying Property, and they plan to Occupy the home for the first year.

Peter Borszcz is a Business and Real Estate Lawyer practising in Kelowna, British Columbia and a shareholder of Montgomery Miles & Stone Law Firm.