Canada’s National Rental Vacancy Rate is Stable with Regional Variations

According to the spring Rental Market Survey released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the average vacancy rate for primary purpose-built apartments in Canada’s 35 major centres was 2.9 per cent in April 2015, compared to 2.7 per cent in April 2014. This difference is not statistically significant, indicating stability in the overall vacancy rate.

“The stability of the national vacancy rate is due to offsetting regional trends that reflect the negative impact of lower oil prices on rental demand leading to higher vacancy rates in oil-producing provinces, particularly Alberta and Saskatchewan,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.

“However, vacancy rates decreased in most of the major centres of Ontario and British Columbia, reflecting stronger economic conditions. In Ontario, improving employment conditions for young adults aged 15 to 24, a key source of rental demand, and a stable supply of rental units placed downward pressure on vacancy rates, while increased immigration to British Columbia, another key source of rental demand, more-than-offset an increase in the province’s rental market supply.” 

The census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with the lowest vacancy rates in April 2015 were Guelph (0.6 per cent), Victoria (1.2 per cent) and Vancouver (1.4 per cent). The CMAs with the highest vacancy rates were Moncton (8.8 per cent), Saint John (8.4 per cent), and Gatineau (6.2 per cent).

Average rent for a two-bedroom unit in Canada, including new and existing structures, was $949 in April 2015. Highest average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment was recorded in Vancouver ($1,345), followed by Calgary ($1,319) and Toronto ($1,269). Lowest average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment was recorded in Trois-Rivières ($571), followed by Saguenay ($583) and Sherbrooke ($607).

CMHC’s Rental Market Survey is conducted twice a year in April and October, to provide vacancy, availability and rent information on privately initiated structures in all centres with populations of 10,000 and more across Canada. Reports are released in June and December. Note that there are differences between the fall and spring surveys.

The spring survey covers apartment and row structures containing at least three rental units, and, unlike the fall survey, does not report information on: a) Smaller geographic zones within centres; b) Secondary rental market (rented condominium apartments, single detached, semi-detached, duplexes or accessory apartments).

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