Chinese billionaire’s wife sues Vancouver for empty homes tax

Spouse of parliamentarian Zheng Jianjiang claims levy was applied erroneously on her decrepit property

Vancouver, British Columbia as seen from Stanley Park. Pictureguy/Shutterstock

The Vancouver government erroneously levied an empty home tax on one Canadian property of He Yiju, wife of Zheng Jianjiang, a deputy in China’s National People’s Congress, according to the South China Morning Post.

In a petition filed June with the British Columbia Supreme Court, the parliamentarian’s wife asked the government to reassess the CAD249,313.67 (USD190,000) tax that had been imposed on her once-derelict property close to the Spanish Banks waterway.

He’s property was casualty to a wave of cooling measures rolled out by the Canadian government that year in efforts to curb speculative behaviour among foreign home buyers. The tax marked one percent of the property’s value, currently worth CAD26.8 million (USD20.4 million).

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He applied in April 2017 for a building permit to demolish and redevelop the decaying house that had stood on the 0.48-hectare site since the 1930s. The permit was granted in February 2019.

“The fact that the City did not issue the building permits until 2019 when the Petitioner or others on her behalf applied for them in 2017 was not because of any action or inaction by the Petitioner or others acting on her behalf,” the petition read in part.

The 4,738-square-foot home, now giving way to a new, 31,393-square-foot structure, contained plenty of mould, asbestos, and “large amounts of … faeces,” revealed an environmental hazard survey from January 2017 that accompanies the affidavit supporting the petition.

While Zheng does not appear in the petition, the affidavit names as signatory an employee of AUX Holdings (Canada), whose principal bears the parliamentarian’s name. Zheng has a net worth of USD2.5 billion, according to Wealth-X.