The vacancy rate for rental units has decreased overall in New Brunswick. And Saint John is leading the trend with a drop in vacancies, an increase in new rental units and rising rent.
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the overall vacancy rate for rental properties in the province has dropped to 5.3 per cent from six per cent in 2007. But in Saint John the vacancy rate for privately-owned rental properties has been dropping since 2006, prompting a rise in the development of new rental units in the city.
"I've got some nice apartments and some bad ones, and I can't believe how fast they are going," says Shawn Carroll, a manager with G & H Carroll Holdings Inc. "I can"t believe some of the apartments people are taking just to have apartments."
Carroll says his company has nine rental units in Saint John-NO VACANCIES.
In January 2006, the vacancy rate in Saint John was 6.8 per cent. That dropped to 5.2 in 2007 and, accordingly to CMHC's Spring Rental Market Survey for April 2008, it has dropped again to 4.3 per cent.
The development of new privately owned rental housing has gone up during the same time. In 2006 there were 107 new rental apartments. This increased to 152 the following year and the CMHC is forecasting the development of around 300 "multiples" for 2008.
Multiples include apartments, townhouses and duplexes. Of these, says CMHC senior market analyst Claude gautreau, about 190 will be new rental apartments.
The amount of rent one can expect to pay has also gone up. Accordingly to the April 2008 survey, the average rent for a two bedroom unit is $604, up from $568 in April 2007.
Gautreau says all the talk and "excitement" of New brunswick"s impending economic boom as an energy hub is part of the reasons for the influx of people into the city.
"If the new refinery project moves forward, it will create demand for skilled labour," say Gautreau. "It's highly likely a lot of people will have to relocate to Saint John."
Gautreau says until the talk of a new refinery, "in-migration in Saint John was essentially negative."
it was reported in October 2006, that Irving Oil was seeking a partner to help build a $7 billion oil refinery and had announced the acquisition of 3,000 acres of land on the outskirts of the city for the development.
Donald Hazen of hazen Investments says he has "very few" vacancies in his 400 Saint John apartments.
"We"re fairly full," he says. "It's better now than it was."
THIS ARTICLE IS A COPY OF THE WRITE-UP FROM THE TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL, FRIDAY JUNE 6TH EDITION.