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Average Rental Vacancy Rate Rose to 2.7 Per Cent

OTTAWA, Ontario, December 21, 2004 — The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 28 major centres1 rose to 2.7 per cent in October 2004 from 2.2 per cent a year ago, according to the Rental Market Survey released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This is the third consecutive annual increase in the vacancy rate, but it remains below the 3.3 per cent average vacancy rate that occurred over the 1992 to 2003 period.

"The rising vacancy rate over the past year is due to various factors," said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. "Low mortgage rates have kept mortgage carrying costs low and lessened demand for rental housing by bringing home ownership within the reach of many renter households. Vacancy rates have also risen because of modest rental apartment completions, which have added new rental supply in some centres."

"Despite the higher vacancy ratesin many centres, there are many households that pay more than 30 per cent of their income for rent. These households either need to move to less expensive units or require some help in order to make their monthly shelter costs more affordable. In some cases, however, there are not enough vacant units to meet the needs of all households in core housing need; for example households living in crowded conditions. Therefore, additional affordable housing units continue to be required," said Bob Dugan.

Vacancy rates were higher than one year ago in 21 of Canada's 28 major centres, but fell in seven. Windsor (8.8 per cent), Saskatoon, Saint John (NB), Edmonton, Saguenay, and Thunder Bay had the highest vacancy rates, while Victoria (0.6 per cent), Sherbrooke, Québec, Winnipeg, Trois-Rivières, and Vancouver were among the cities with the lowest vacancy rates.

In Ontario, vacancy rates were higher in nine of 11 major centres. Rates increased by at least one percentage point in Windsor (4.5 percentage points to 8.8 per cent), Thunder Bay, London and Ottawa. The vacancy rate in Toronto increased by half a percentage point to 4.3 per cent.

In Quebec, five of six major centres had higher vacancy rates than in 2003. The greatest increase occurred in Gatineau (from 1.2 per cent to 2.1 per cent), while the vacancy rate in Québec more than doubled from 0.5 per cent to 1.1 per cent. The vacancy rate in Montréal recorded a half percentage point increase to 1.5 per cent. The vacancy rate in Trois-Rivières declined 0.3 percentage point to 1.2 per cent.

Vacancy rates went up in three of five metropolitan areas in the Prairies. The largest increases were in Edmonton where the vacancy rate rose by 1.9 percentage points to 5.3 per cent and in Saskatoon where the vacancy rate increased by 1.8 percentage points to 6.3 percent. There were marginal declines in Winnipeg and Calgary with vacancy rates of 1.1 and 4.3 per cent respectively.

British Columbia is home to the tightest metropolitan rental market in Canada as the Victoria vacancy rate fell by 0.5 percentage point to 0.6 per cent. In Vancouver, the vacancy rate declined by 0.7 percentage point to 1.3 per cent, while the Abbotsford vacancy rate increased slightly to 2.8 per cent.

All three metropolitan centres in Atlantic Canada recorded vacancy rate hikes with the rate in St. John's (NFLD) rising by 1.1 percentage points to 3.1 per cent.

Average rents for two-bedroom apartments increased in all major centres, except Windsor where rents were unchanged. The greatest increase occurred in both Sherbrooke and Québec where rents were up 5.1 per cent, and in Trois-Rivières where rents were up 4.8 per cent. Average rents in Trois-Rivières, Halifax, Gatineau, Montréal, Saint John (NB), and London were all up by three per cent or more.

The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments were in Toronto ($1,052), Vancouver ($984), and Ottawa ($940). The lowest average rents were in Trois-Rivières ($457) and Saguenay ($459).

A new measure called the availability rate has been introduced on a pilot basis this year in all 28 major centres across Canada. A rental unit is considered available if the unit is vacant (physically unoccupied and available for immediate rental), or if the existing tenant has given or received notice to move and a new tenant has not signed a lease. CMHC's Rental Market Survey found that the average rental apartment availability rate in Canada's 28 metropolitan areas was 3.9 per cent in October 2004.

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 Major 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.

The multimedia version of this release is available at: www.newswire.ca/en/releases/mmnr/CMHC20041221/

Note: Tables of vacancy rates and rents follow.

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

VACANCY RATES IN PRIVATELY INITIATED APARTMENT STRUCTURES OF THREE UNITS AND OVER IN METROPOLITAN AREAS

October
2000
October
2001
October
2002
October
2003
October
2004
Atlantic Region
St.John's 3.8 2.5 2.7 2.0 3.1
Halifax 3.6 2.8 2.7 2.3 2.9
Saint John 3.4 5.6 6.3 5.2 5.8
Quebec Region
Gatineau 1.4 0.6 0.5 1.2 2.1
Montréal 1.5 0.6 0.7 1.0 1.5
Québec 1.6 0.8 0.3 0.5 1.1
Saguenay 4.4 4.4 4.9 5.2 5.3
Sherbrooke 4.7 2.3 1.8 0.7 0.9
Trois-Rivières 6.8 4.7 3.0 1.5 1.2
Ontario Region
Hamilton 1.7 1.3 1.6 3.0 3.4
Kingston* 1.8 1.5 0.9 1.9 2.4
Kitchener 0.7 0.9 2.3 3.2 3.5
London 2.2 1.6 2.0 2.1 3.7
Oshawa 1.7 1.3 2.3 2.9 3.4
Ottawa 0.2 0.8 1.9 2.9 3.9
St.Catharines-Niagara 2.6 1.9 2.4 2.7 2.6
Greater Sudbury 7.7 5.7 5.1 3.6 2.6
Thunder Bay 5.8 5.8 4.7 3.3 5.0
Toronto 0.6 0.9 2.5 3.8 4.3
Windsor 1.9 2.9 3.9 4.3 8.8
Prairie Region
Calgary 1.3 1.2 2.9 4.4 4.3
Edmonton 1.4 0.9 1.7 3.4 5.3
Regina 1.4 2.1 1.9 2.1 2.7
Saskatoon 1.7 2.9 3.7 4.5 6.3
Winnipeg 2.0 1.4 1.2 1.3 1.1
British Columbia Region
Abbotsford* 3.7 2.4 2.0 2.5 2.8
Vancouver 1.4 1.0 1.4 2.0 1.3
Victoria 1.8 0.5 1.5 1.1 0.6
Total (1) 1.6 1.1 1.7 2.2 2.7

(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, 2003 and 2004 data is based on the census metropolitan area definition.

AVERAGE RENTS IN PRIVATELY INITIATED APARTMENT STRUCTURES OF THREE UNITS AND OVER IN METROPOLITAN AREAS

One-Bedroom Two-Bedroom
Oct. 2003 Oct. 2004 Oct. 2003 Oct. 2004
Atlantic Region $ $ $ $
St.John's 520 521 607 618
Halifax 596 612 720 747
Saint John 423 432 504 520
Quebec Region
Gatineau 548 556 639 663
Montréal 528 536 575 594
Québec 506 516 567 596
Saguenay 374 375 457 459
Sherbrooke 385 390 471 495
Trois-Rivières 382 369 436 457
Ontario Region
Hamilton 633 641 778 789
Kingston 627 646 768 785
Kitchener 646 651 754 765
London 586 603 736 758
Oshawa 752 750 845 852
Ottawa 768 772 932 940
St.Catharines-Niagara 600 611 704 722
Greater Sudbury 524 529 651 655
Thunder Bay 552 550 672 679
Toronto 884 887 1,040 1,052
Windsor 650 648 776 776
Prairie Region
Calgary 661 655 804 806
Edmonton 588 597 722 730
Regina 490 503 589 602
Saskatoon 469 472 576 580
Winnipeg 508 516 645 664
British Columbia Region
Abbotsford 537 546 672 684
Vancouver 759 774 965 984
Victoria 619 630 789 799

VACANCY AND AVAILABILITY RATES IN PRIVATELY INITIATED APARTMENT STRUCTURES OF THREE UNITS AND OVER IN METROPOLITAN AREAS

Vacancy Rate Availability Rate
October
2004
October
2004
Atlantic Region
St.John's 3.1 4.5
Halifax 2.9 3.9
Saint John 5.8 7.3
Quebec Region
Gatineau 2.1 2.6
Montréal 1.5 1.9
Québec 1.1 1.5
Saguenay 5.3 NA
Sherbrooke 0.9 1.5
Trois-Rivières 1.2 1.6
Ontario Region
Hamilton 3.4 5.4
Kingston 2.4 4.3
Kitchener 3.5 6.3
London 3.7 5.9
Oshawa 3.4 4.4
Ottawa 3.9 6.7
St.Catharines-Niagara 2.6 4.4
Greater Sudbury 2.6 4.4
Thunder Bay 5.0 7.9
Toronto 4.3 6.2
Windsor 8.8 10.4
Prairie Region
Calgary 4.3 6.2
Edmonton 5.3 6.9
Regina 2.7 4.4
Saskatoon 6.3 8.5
Winnipeg 1.1 1.8
British Columbia Region
Abbotsford
Vancouver 1.3 2.3
Victoria 0.6 1.9
Total (1) 2.7 3.9

(1) Weighted average of metropolitan areas surveyed