City councillors have voted in Vancouver's proposed tax on vacant homes, which could be in effect as early as January. 

The one per cent tax, the first of its kind in Canada, was approved Wednesday evening by a vote of 8-3. Supporters said they hope the steep levy will encourage the owners of investment properties to open up their homes to renters, bringing much-needed housing supply to the city.

The current vacancy rate sits at a record-low of 0.6 per cent.

The tax will apply to a vacant home's assessed value, amounting to $10,000 on a $1 million residence, but principal residences will be exempt. Several other groups won't have to worry about the tax either, including homeowners whose properties are undergoing major and properly permitted renovations or redevelopment, and people who are in medical or supportive care.

People who bought their property the previous year will also be exempt, as will those whose home sare subject to existing strata rental restrictions.

According to the city, there are at least 10,800 homes empty year-round in Vancouver, and roughly 10,000 more that are under-occupied.