Canada’s Rental Vacancy Rate Increases

Canada’s Rental Vacancy Rate Increases

The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada’s 35 major centres1 increased to 2.6 per cent in October 2012, from 2.2 per cent in October 2011, according to the fall Rental Market Survey2 released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

“Lower levels of household formation among young adults reduced rental housing demand,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.  “This, combined with an increase in the supply of newly constructed, purpose-built rental apartments, pushed Canada’s vacancy rate upward.  Meanwhile, demand for rental condominium apartments remained strong, with the vacancy rate holding steady in most of Canada’s largest urban centres, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The results of CMHC’s fall survey reveal that, in October 2012, the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates in the primary apartment rental market were in Regina (1.0 per cent), Thunder Bay (1.1 per cent) and Calgary (1.3 per cent).  The centres with the highest vacancy rates were in Saint John (9.7 per cent), Windsor (7.3 per cent) and Moncton (6.7 per cent).

Overall, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures across Canada’s 35 major centres increased 2.2 per cent between October 2011 and October 2012, the same pace of rent increase that was recorded between October 2010 and October 2011. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in new and existing structures was $901 in October 20123.  The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures in Canada’s major centres were in Vancouver ($1,261), Toronto ($1,183) and Calgary ($1,150).  The lowest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were in Saguenay ($549), Trois-Rivières ($550) and Sherbrooke ($578).

CMHC’s October 2012 Rental Market Survey also covers condominium apartments offered for rent in 11 large urban centres, including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.  Rental condominium vacancy rates ranged from a high of 3.2 per cent in Ottawa to a low of 0.9 per cent in Saskatoon, holding steady in most centres from October 2011.  Average monthly rents for two-bedroom condominium apartments were highest in Vancouver ($1,662) and lowest in Québec ($1,022).

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 65 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of high quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable housing solutions. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making informed decisions.

 1Major centres are based on Statistics Canada Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs), with the exception of the Ottawa-Gatineau CMA, which is treated as two centres for Rental Market Survey purposes, and Charlottetown, which is a Census Agglomeration (CA).

2CMHC’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.

The fall survey covers apartment and row structures containing at least three rental units and, unlike the spring survey, reports information on:  a) Smaller geographic zones within centres; b) Secondary rental market (rented condominium apartments, single detached, semi-detached, duplexes or accessory apartments).

3Year-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 focusing on structures existing in both the October 2011 and October 2012 surveys provides a better indication of actual rent increases paid by tenants.

Ravinder Khurana

Ravinder Khurana

Sales Representative
CENTURY 21 Leading Edge Realty Inc., Brokerage*
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