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Average Rental Vacancy Rate Rises to 2.2 Per Cent

OTTAWA, Ontario, December 2, 2003 — The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 28 metropolitan areas1 rose to 2.2 per cent in October 2003 from 1.7 per cent a year ago, but is below the average of 3.4 per cent over the 1992 to 2002 period, according to the Rental Market Survey released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) today. This is the second consecutive annual increase in the vacancy rate.

"The rise in the vacancy rate over the past year reflects a number of factors," said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "Foremost among these are low mortgage rates, which reduced mortgage carrying costs and lessened demand for rental housing by bringing home ownership within the reach of many renter households. Vacancy rates also rose because rental apartment completions added new rental supply in many centres."

"Nationally, vacancy rates have increased across the range of rent levels in a number of large centres. Nevertheless, at the most affordable level, there is still an inadequate supply of units. Therefore, there is a need to add to the affordable rental stock. This fact is reinforced by evidence that a large proportion of low income families have to pay more than 30 per cent of their income for rent.” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC.

Vacancy rates were higher than one year ago in 20 of Canada's 28 metropolitan areas. Saint John (NB), Saguenay, Saskatoon, Calgary and Windsor had the highest vacancy rates, while Québec, Sherbrooke, Victoria, Montréal, and Gatineau were among the cities with the lowest vacancy rates.

Vacancy rates were higher in nine of Ontario’s 11 metropolitan areas. Rates increased by at least one percentage point in Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, and Ottawa.

In Quebec, four of six metropolitan areas had higher vacancy rates than in 2002. The greatest relative increase occurred in Gatineau (from 0.7 per cent to 1.2 per cent), while Montréal, Québec, and Saguenay vacancy rates rose modestly. Vacancy rates in Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières declined by more than one per cent each.

Vacancy rates went up in seven of eight metropolitan areas in the Prairies and British Columbia. The only decline was in Victoria, from 1.5 per cent to 1.1 per cent.

In Atlantic Canada, the vacancy rate in Saint John (NB) fell 1.1 percentage points to 5.2 per cent. In spite of this, Saint John and Saguenay had the highest vacancy rate of all Canadian metropolitan areas. Vacancy rates also fell in both Halifax and St. John's (NFLD).

CMHC's annual Rental Market Survey also shows that average rents for two-bedroom apartments increased in all metropolitan areas except Toronto and Calgary, where rents were essentially flat (down 0.7 per cent in Toronto, unchanged in Calgary). The greatest increase occurred in Gatineau, where rents were up 6.7 per cent. Kingston posted the second-largest increase at 5.6 per cent. Average rents in London, Winnipeg, Saguenay, and Montréal were all up by about four per cent. Nationally, rent increases were highest at the lower end of the rent spectrum.

The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments were in Toronto ($1,040), Vancouver ($965), and Ottawa ($932). The lowest average rents were in Trois-Rivières ($436) and Saguenay ($457).

CMHC's Rental Market Survey is conducted yearly in October, to provide vacancy rate and rent information on privately initiated apartment structures containing at least three rental units.

For further information contact:

Bob Dugan
CMHC
(613) 748-4009
bdugan@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

1 Census metropolitan areas as defined by Statistics Canada

Note: Tables of vacancy rates and rents follow.

For local rental market information, please contact your local CMHC branch.

 


Vacancy Rates in Apartment Structures of Three Units and OverPrivately Initiated, in Metropolitan Areas
  October
1999
October
2000
October
2001
October
2002
October
2003
Atlantic Region          
St.John's 9.2 3.8 2.5 2.7 2
Halifax 3.6 3.6 2.8 2.7 2.3
Saint John 5.2 3.4 5.6 6.3 5.2
Quebec Region          
Gatineau 4.4 1.4 0.6 0.5 1.2
Montréal 3 1.5 0.6 0.7 1
Québec 3.3 1.6 0.8 0.3 0.5
Saguenay 4.9 4.4 4.4 4.9 5.2
Sherbrooke 7.6 4.7 2.3 1.8 0.7
Trois-Rivières 7.9 6.8 4.7 3 1.5
Ontario Region          
Hamilton 1.9 1.7 1.3 1.6 3
Kingston* 3.4 1.8 1.5 0.9 1.9
Kitchener 1 0.7 0.9 2.3 3.2
London 3.5 2.2 1.6 2 2.1
Oshawa 1.7 1.7 1.3 2.3 2.9
Ottawa 0.7 0.2 0.8 1.9 2.9
St.Catharines-Niagara 3.2 2.6 1.9 2.4 2.7
Greater Sudbury 11.1 7.7 5.7 5.1 3.6
Thunder Bay 7.5 5.8 5.8 4.7 3.3
Toronto 0.9 0.6 0.9 2.5 3.8
Windsor 2.7 1.9 2.9 3.9 4.3
Prairie Region          
Calgary 2.8 1.3 1.2 2.9 4.4
Edmonton 2.2 1.4 0.9 1.7 3.4
Regina 1.4 1.4 2.1 1.9 2.1
Saskatoon 0.9 1.7 2.9 3.7 4.5
Winnipeg 3 2 1.4 1.2 1.3
British Columbia Region          
Abbotsford* 6.7 3.7 2.4 2 2.5
Vancouver 2.7 1.4 1 1.4 2
Victoria 3.6 1.8 0.5 1.5 1.1
Total (1) 2.6 1.6 1.1 1.7 2.2

(1)  Weighted average of Metropolitan Areas Surveyed does not include the newly created Abbotsford and Kingston CMAs prior to 2002.

* Data prior to 2002 is based on the census agglomeration definition; 2002 and 2003 data is based on the census metropolitan area definition.

 


Weighted Average Rent by Metropolitan Area Privately Initiated Three Apartment Units and Over
  One-Bedroom Two-Bedroom
  Oct. 2002 Oct. 2003 Oct. 2002 Oct. 2003
Atlantic Region $ $ $ $
St.John's 510 520 589 607
Halifax 572 596 704 720
Saint John 424 423 492 504
Quebec Region        
Gatineau 509 548 599 639
Montréal 505 528 552 575
Québec 489 506 550 567
Saguenay 370 374 440 457
Sherbrooke 369 385 456 471
Trois-Rivières 370 382 431 436
Ontario Region        
Hamilton 627 633 765 778
Kingston 598 627 727 768
Kitchener 638 646 750 754
London 566 586 705 736
Oshawa 713 752 819 845
Ottawa 767 768 930 932
St.Catharines-Niagara 583 600 695 704
Greater Sudbury 513 524 647 651
Thunder Bay 532 552 657 672
Toronto 891 884 1,047 1,040
Windsor 638 650 769 776
Prairie Region        
Calgary 657 661 804 804
Edmonton 575 588 709 722
Regina 480 490 581 589
Saskatoon 461 469 567 576
Winnipeg 490 508 622 645
British Columbia Region        
Abbotsford 530 537 650 672
Vancouver 743 759 954 965
Victoria 605 619 771 789

News source: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

 

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