A continuing decline in vacancies signals strong demand for rentals across Canada.
The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada’s 35 major centres decreased slightly to 2.2 per cent in October 2011, from 2.6 per cent in October 2010, according to the fall Rental Market Survey released last week by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Modestly higher levels of employment among persons aged 15 to 24 likely increased household formation among young adults, thereby increasing rental housing demand.
This, combined with the supply of newly constructed rental apartments moving slightly lower, pushed Canada’s vacancy rate downward, said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre. “Demand for rental condominium apartments remained strong, with the vacancy rate for such units falling in most of Canada’s largest urban centres, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.”
The results of CMHC’s fall survey reveal that, in October 2011, the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates were: Regina (0.6 per cent), Winnipeg, Kingston and Guelph (1.1 per cent), and St. John’s (1.3 per cent). At the provincial level, Manitoba had the lowest vacancy rate at 1.0 per cent. Newfoundland and Labrador (1.3 per cent) and Saskatchewan (1.9 per cent) were the other provinces with vacancy rates below 2.0 per cent.
The survey reveals that the major centres with the highest vacancy rates were: Windsor (8.1 per cent), Abbotsford (6.7 per cent) and Saint John (5.9 per cent). On a provincial basis, the highest vacancy rate was in New Brunswick (4.8 per cent).
The Canadian average two-bedroom rent in new and existing structures was $883 in October 2011, compared with $860 in October 2010. With respect to the Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs), the highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures in Canada’s major centres were: Vancouver ($1,237), Toronto ($1,149), Ottawa ($1,086), Calgary ($1,084), Victoria ($1,045), Edmonton ($1,034) and Barrie ($1,001). These are the only major centres with average rents at or above $1,000 per month. Provincially, the highest average monthly rents were in British Columbia ($1,050), Alberta ($1,044) and Ontario ($1,002).
The lowest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were: Trois-Rivières ($547), Saguenay ($557) and Sherbrooke ($577). On a provincial basis, the lowest monthly rents were: Québec ($684), New Brunswick ($687) and Newfoundland and Labrador ($701).
Year-over-year comparisons of average rents can be slightly misleading because rents in newly built structures tend to be higher than in existing buildings. Excluding new structures and focussing on structures existing in both the October 2010 and October 2011 surveys provides a better indication of actual rent increases paid by tenants. Overall, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures across Canada’s 35 major centres increased 2.2 per cent between October 2010 and October 2011, slightly lower than what was observed between October 2009 and October 2010 (2.4 per cent).
CMHC’s fall Rental Market Survey also found that the rental apartment availability rate in Canada’s 35 major centres was 3.2 per cent in October 2011, down from 3.8 per cent in October 2010. A rental unit is considered available if the unit is vacant (physically unoccupied and ready for immediate rental), or if the existing tenant has given or received notice to move and a new tenant has not signed a lease. Availability rates were highest in Windsor (9.2 per cent), Abbotsford (7.5 per cent), Saint John (6.7 per cent) and Hamilton (6.2 per cent). The lowest rates were in Regina (0.9 per cent), Winnipeg (1.6 per cent) and Saguenay (1.7 per cent).
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