VANCOUVER -- The City of Vancouver has launched its empty homes tax audit system meant to ensure residents are complying with the program.

The deadline for homeowners to declare if their residence is empty is Feb. 2, but the city says it has already sent out notices requesting that some property owners provide evidence to support their declaration.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says in a news release that the tax encourages the best use of all housing in the city and will increase the rental supply for those who live and work in Vancouver.

So far, 55 per cent of all property owners have completed their form telling the city if their home is lived in or empty.

Property owners who don't declare by the deadline will have their homes declared vacant, will be fined $250 and will have to pay the tax at a rate of one per cent of the properties assessed taxable value.

The mayor said in November that the tax could put as many as 25,000 empty units back on the rental market.