Average rental vacancy rate for apartments in Canada's 35 major cities fell to 2.5% in April from 2.9% one year ago, due in part to immigration, fewer condominium completions, stable apartment unit completions: CMHC

OTTAWA , June 9, 2011 (press release) – The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 35 major centres1 decreased slightly to 2.5 per cent in April 2011, from 2.9 per cent in April 2010, according to the spring Rental Market Survey2 released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

“Immigration continues to be a factor in supporting rental housing demand. Recent immigrants tend to rent first before becoming homeowners,” said Bob Dugan, Chief Economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre. “In addition, condominium completions moved lower in the past months, while rental apartment unit completions remained relatively stable. As a result, the overall demand for rental apartment units increased faster than supply for this type of housing. Accordingly, this pushed Canada’s vacancy rate downward. “

The results of CMHC’s spring survey reveal that, in April 2011, the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates were: Winnipeg and Regina (0.7 per cent); Québec (1.0 per cent); Toronto (1.6 per cent); and Kingston (1.7 per cent). At the provincial level, Manitoba has the lowest vacancy rate at 0.7 per cent. All other provinces were above 2.0 per cent.

The survey reveals that the major centres with the highest vacancy rates were: Windsor (9.4 per cent); Kelowna and Abbotsford (6.6 per cent); and Charlottetown (4.9 per cent). On a provincial basis, the highest vacancy rate was in Alberta (4.7 per cent).

The Canadian average two-bedroom rent in new and existing structures was $864 in April 2011, compared to $848 in April 2010. With respect to the CMAs, the highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures in Canada’s major centres were: Vancouver ($1,181); Toronto ($1,124); Ottawa – Gatineau (Ontario Part $1,056); Calgary ($1,040); Edmonton ($1,029); and Victoria ($1,024). These are the only major centres with average rents at or above $1,000 per month. Provincially, the highest average monthly rents were in Alberta ($1,029), British Columbia ($1,015) and Ontario ($980).

The lowest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were: Saguenay ($542); Trois-Rivières ($546); and Sherbrooke ($577). On a provincial basis, the lowest monthly rents were: Québec ($671); New Brunswick ($672); and Newfoundland and Labrador ($683).

Year-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 focussing on structures existing in both the April 2010 and April 2011 surveys 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 2.2 per cent between April 2010 and April 2011, slightly higher than what was observed between April 2009 and April 2010 (1.8 per cent).

CMHC’s spring Rental Market Survey also found that the rental apartment availability rate in Canada’s 35 major centres was 4.3 per cent in April 2011, down from 5.4 per cent in April 2010. 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 (11.3 per cent), Sherbrooke (8.7 per cent), London (8.3 per cent), Abbotsford (8.1 per cent) and Kelowna (8.0 per cent). The lowest rates were in Winnipeg (1.1 per cent), Regina (1.7 per cent), St. John’s (2.6 per cent) and Québec (2.8 per cent).

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.

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