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National Rental Vacancy Rate Edges Higher

OTTAWA, Ontario, June 10, 2009 — The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 35 major centres1 increased slightly to 2.7 per cent in April 2009, from 2.6 per cent in April 2008, according to the spring Rental Market Survey2 released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Completions of condominiums, which continue to attract renter households looking to move into homeownership are decreasing demand for rental housing. Also, some of the completed condos compete with rental units if they were purchased by investors who then rent them out. These two factors have put upward pressure on the vacancy rate,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. “However, this has been balanced by higher levels of demand for rental housing.”

The results of CMHC’s spring survey reveal that the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates in April 2009 were Québec City (0.6 per cent), Regina (0.7 per cent), Winnipeg (0.9 per cent), Saguenay (1.1 per cent), and Trois-Rivières (1.1 per cent). With respect to British Columbia, only two centres had vacancy rates below two per cent; Victoria at 1.2 per cent and Vancouver at 1.9 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum, the major centres with the highest vacancy rates were Windsor (15.5 per cent), St. Catharines – Niagara (5.3 per cent), and Abbotsford (4.8 per cent).

The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were in Vancouver ($1,154), Calgary ($1,106), Toronto ($1,093), Edmonton ($1,059), and Victoria ($1,043). Of all the major centres, these five were the only ones with average rents at or above $1,000. The lowest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were in Saguenay ($494), and Trois-Rivières ($512).

Year-over-year comparison of rents can be slightly misleading because rents in newly built structures tend to be higher than in existing buildings. However, excluding new structures provides a better indication of actual rent increases paid by tenants. Overall, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures across Canada’s 35 major centres increased 2.9 per cent between April 2008 and April 2009. Rent increases were larger in Saskatoon (15.5 per cent) and in Regina (11.4 per cent).

CMHC’s spring Rental Market Survey also found that the average rental apartment availability rate in Canada’s 35 major centres was 5.0 per cent in April 2009, up slightly from 4.9 per cent in April 2008. A rental unit is considered available if the unit is vacant (physically unoccupied and ready for immediate rental), or if the existing tenant has given or received notice to move and a new tenant has not signed a lease. Availability rates were highest in Windsor (18.0 per cent), London (7.9 per cent), St. Catharines – Niagara (7.9 per cent), Guelph (7.0 per cent), and Sherbrooke (7.0 per cent). The lowest availability rates were in Winnipeg (1.4 per cent), Regina (1.8 per cent), and Victoria (2.5 per cent).

As Canada’s national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 60 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable, and affordable homes — homes that will continue to create vibrant and healthy communities and cities across the country.

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 and Charlottetown, which is a Census Agglomeration (CA).

2 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.

The spring survey covers apartment and row structures containing at least three rental units, and unlike the fall survey does not report information on:

  1. Smaller geographic zones within centres
  2. Secondary rental market (rented condominium apartments, single detached, semi-detached, duplexes or accessory
    apartments).

For further information contact:

Kristen Scheel
CMHC Media Relations
613-748-2799
kscheel@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

To access CMHC’s 2009 reports on the rental market select from the links below:


Rental Market Indicators
Privately Initiated Apartment Structures of Three Units and Over
Provinces and Major Centres1

Centres Vacancy Rates (%) Availability Rates (%) Average Rent
2 Bedroom ($) (New and existing structures)
Percentage Change of Average Rent
Two Bedroom (2) From Fixed Sample (Existing structures only)
Apr-08 Apr-09 Apr-08 Apr-09 Apr-08 Apr-09 Apr-07 to Apr-08 Apr-08 to Apr-09
Newfoundland & Labrador 10,000+ 3.2 a 2.0 a 4.1 a 2.7 a 581 a 616 a 2.8 a 4.7 a
St. John's CMA 3.7 a 2.2 a 4.8 a 3.2 a 614 a 652 a 2.5 a 5.2 a
Prince Edward Island 10,000+ 4.9 a 3.4 b 6.5 a 5.6 a 653 a 681 a 2.1 c 4.2 a
Charlottetown CA 5.2 a 3.5 b 7.1 a 6.1 a 665 a 695 a ** 4.3 a
Nova Scotia 10,000+ 3.4 a 3.8 a 4.1 a 4.9 a 789 a 808 a 2.1 b 2.9 b
Halifax CMA 3.2 a 3.8 a 4.0 a 5.1 a 827 a 843 a 2.1 b 2.8 b
New Brunswick 10,000+ 5.3 a 4.7 a 5.9 a 5.4 a 635 a 653 a 2.0 b 2.8 a
Moncton CMA 5.5 a 4.1 b 6.4 a 5.3 a 665 a 673 a 2.0 b 2.1 a
Saint John CMA 4.3 b 4.0 b 4.9 b 4.5 b 604 a 643 a 3.2 c 4.5 c
Québec 10,000+ 2.5 a 2.3 a 5.6 a 5.3 a 615 a 629 a 3.6 d 3.0 b
Ottawa – Gatineau CMA (Que. Part) 4.1 b 2.0 a 4.5 b 2.8 a 674 a 690 a 2.3 b ++
Montréal CMA 2.8 a 2.7 a 5.8 a 5.6 a 643 a 656 a ** 3.5 d
Québec CMA 1.1 a 0.6 a 5.1 b 3.1 b 641 a 664 a 2.5 c 2.1 c
Saguenay CMA 1.8 b 1.1 a 5.6 b 6.7 b 497 a 494 a ** **
Sherbrooke CMA 2.1 b 2.5 a 5.4 b 7.0 b 540 a 548 a 4.9 c **
Trois-Rivières CMA 1.3 a 1.1 a 4.0 b 6.6 b 501 a 512 a 1.2 d 3.3 c
Ontario 10,000+ 3.1 a 3.3 a 5.4 a 5.4 a 931 a 949 a 1.6 a 2.1 a
Barrie CMA 2.9 b 4.2 b 5.9 b 6.4 a 941 a 958 a 4.2 d ++
Brantford CMA 2.3 a 2.9 b 2.7 a 3.5 b 737 a 757 a 1.3 d 4.2 d
Greater Sudbury CMA 0.7 a 2.0 a 1.7 a 3.8 b 781 a 802 a 7.2 c 6.2 b
Guelph CMA 2.5 a 3.7 a 5.0 a 7.0 a 856 a 878 a 1.6 a 1.8 a
Hamilton CMA 4.7 a 3.6 a 8.1 a 6.1 a 815 a 860 a 1.2 a 1.5 a
Kingston CMA 2.6 a 2.4 a 4.0 b 4.7 b 863 a 894 a 3.8 b 2.7 a
Kitchener CMA 2.0 a 2.9 a 4.5 a 5.5 a 838 a 853 a 0.9 a 1.7 a
London CMA 3.0 a 4.2 a 6.1 a 7.9 a 814 a 849 a 2.2 a 1.5 a
St. Catharines – Niagara CMA 3.7 b 5.3 b 5.4 a 7.9 a 774 a 785 a 2.8 b 1.7 c
Oshawa CMA 4.2 b 3.7 b 6.0 b 5.7 a 881 a 876 a 1.1 d 1.1 d
Ottawa – Gatineau CMA (Ont. Part) 2.2 a 2.7 a 5.1 a 4.8 a 957 a 995 a 1.5 a 4.3 b
Peterborough CMA 3.1 b 3.8 b 5.8 a 6.9 b 819 a 850 a 1.2 d 3.6 c
Thunder Bay CMA 3.6 b 2.8 a 5.4 b 3.8 b 714 a 730 a 1.6 b 2.4 c
Toronto CMA 2.8 a 2.4 a 4.9 a 4.4 a 1,075 a 1,093 a 1.2 a 1.6 c
Windsor CMA 13.2 a 15.5 a 15.6 a 18.0 a 770 a 748 a ++ ++
Manitoba 10,000+ 3.2 a 2.0 a 4.1 a 2.7 a 581 a 616 a 2.8 a 4.7 a
Winnipeg CMA 1.0 a 0.9 a 1.5 a 1.4 a 746 a 774 a 3.1 b 3.4 b
Saskatchewan 10,000+ 1.2 a 1.7 a 2.4 a 3.2 a 712 a 796 a 14.3 a 12.5 a
Regina CMA 1.4 a 0.7 a 2.5 a 1.8 a 718 a 786 a 10.4 a 11.4 a
Saskatoon CMA 0.9 a 1.9 a 2.6 a 4.5 a 759 a 868 a 21.3 a 15.5 a
Alberta 10,000+ 2.9 a 4.6 a 4.3 a 6.2 a 1,049 a 1,069 a 10.6 a 2.9 b
Calgary CMA 2.0 a 4.3 b 4.0 b 6.2 a 1,096 a 1,106 a 6.0 c **
Edmonton CMA 3.4 b 4.7 b 4.4 b 5.9 b 1,000 a 1,059 a 13.7 a 4.0 b
British Columbia 10,000+ 1.1 a 2.3 a 1.8 a 3.3 a 921 a 1,003 a 5.5 b 3.4 c
Abbotsford CMA 2.4 a 4.8 a 3.7 a 5.8 a 775 a 778 a 9.1 a 1.2 a
Kelowna CMA 0.3 a 2.9 a 1.3 a 4.3 a 881 a 935 a 8.9 a 3.0 c
Vancouver CMA 0.9 a 1.9 a 1.3 a 2.6 a 1,071 a 1,154 a 5.1 c 2.7 c
Victoria CMA 0.3 a 1.2 a 1.6 a 2.5 a 900 a 1,043 a 4.4 d 6.5 c
Canada CMAs(1) 2.6 a 2.7 a 4.9 a 5.0 a 805 a 827 a 3.6 b 2.9 a
Canada 10,000+ 2.6 a 2.8 a 4.9 a 5.0 a 782 a 804 a 3.7 b 2.9 a

1 Major centres refer to Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA), except for Charlottetown.

2 The Percentage Change of Average Rent is a measure of the market movement, and is based on those structures that were common to the survey sample for both years.

++ Change in rent is not statistically significant. This means that the change in rent is not statistically different than zero (0).

** Data suppressed to protect confidentiality or data is not statistically reliable.