Canada’s Rental Vacancy Rate Decreases

OTTAWA, June 9, 2011 — 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 had the lowest vacancy rate at 0.7 per cent. All other provinces had rates 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 census metropolitan areas (CMAs), the highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures in Canada’s major centres were in Vancouver ($1,181), Toronto ($1,124); Ottawa – Gatineau, Ontario part ($1,056), Calgary ($1,040), Edmonton ($1,029) and Victoria ($1,024). These were 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 in Saguenay ($542), Trois-Rivières ($546) and Sherbrooke ($577). On a provincial basis, the lowest monthly rents were in Quebec ($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 focusing on structures existing in both the April 2010 and April 2011 surveys provide 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.

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 or more across Canada. Reports are released in June and December. Note that there are differences between the fall and spring surveys. The spring survey covers apartment and row structures containing at least three rental units, and, unlike the fall survey, does not report information on: a) smaller geographic zones within centres; or b) the secondary rental market (rental condominium apartments, single-detached houses, semi-detached homes, duplexes and accessory apartments).

For further information contact:

Charles Sauriol
CMHC Media Relations
613-748-2799
csauriol@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

To access CMHC’s 2011 reports on the rental market select from the links below:

1.0 Rental Market Indicators
Privately Initiated Apartment Structures of Three Units and Over
Provinces and Major Centres1
Centres Vacancy Rates (%) Availability Rates (%) Average Rent for Two-Bedroom Units ($) (new and existing structures)   Percentage Change of Average Rent for Two-Bedroom Units(2) from Fixed Sample (existing structures only)
Apr-10 Apr-11 Apr-10 Apr-11 Apr-10 Apr-11   Apr-09 to Apr-10 Apr-10 to Apr-11
Newfoundland and Labrador 10,000+ 1.1 a 2.1 a 1.7 a 2.5 a 640 a 683 a   4.7 a 7.4 c
St. John's CMA 1.1 a 2.0 a 1.8 a 2.6 a 680 a 744 a   5.0 a 9.0 c
Prince Edward Island 10,000+ 3.3 b 4.5 b 4.2 b 5.6 b 707 a 752 a   2.2 a 2.6 b
Charlottetown CA 2.7 a 4.9 b 3.7 b 6.1 b 722 a 770 a   2.5 a 2.0 c
Nova Scotia 10,000+ 2.8 a 3.0 a 3.5 a 3.9 a 842 a 848 a   1.4 a 2.4 b
Halifax CMA 2.5 a 2.8 a 3.3 a 3.9 a 881 a 885 a   1.3 a 2.4 b
New Brunswick 10,000+ 4.7 a 4.5 a 6.0 a 5.2 a 659 a 672 a   2.3 a 2.3 a
Moncton CMA 4.5 b 4.1 b 6.4 a 5.1 b 682 a 697 a   2.0 c 2.3 a
Saint John CMA 4.6 b 4.0 b 5.0 b 4.3 b 644 a 653 a   3.3 c 2.8 b
Quebec 10,000+ 2.5 a 2.4 a 5.9 a 4.7 a 650 a 671 a   2.8 c 2.6 b
Ottawa – Gatineau CMA (Que. part) 2.8 a 2.2 a 3.4 b 3.5 b 713 a 715 a   2.4 c 2.7 b
Montréal CMA 2.8 a 2.5 a 6.2 a 4.3 b 680 a 703 a   **   2.8 c
Québec CMA 0.4 a 1.0 a 3.8 b 2.8 a 684 a 711 a   3.3 c 2.8 a
Saguenay CMA 1.8 b 1.9 b 9.5 b 5.2 b 522 a 542 a   3.3 d 1.8 c
Sherbrooke CMA 3.7 b 3.7 b 8.0 b 8.7 a 556 a 577 a   1.7 c 1.4 d
Trois-Rivières CMA 2.5 b 4.2 b 7.3 b 7.8 b 531 a 546 a   **   2.3 c
Ontario 10,000+ 3.4 a 2.5 a 5.7 a 4.3 a 978 a 980 a   1.3 a 1.9 b
Barrie CMA 4.7 b 1.9 b 8.3 b 4.0 b 970 a 976 a   1.4 a 1.2 a
Brantford CMA 2.8 b 3.6 b 3.7 c 5.1 b 778 a 778 a   **   1.3 a
Greater Sudbury CMA 5.4 b 3.1 c 6.7 b 4.2 b 823 a 877 a   **   2.5 c
Guelph CMA 4.6 b 1.9 a 7.4 a 4.7 b 876 a 892 a   ++   0.4 a
Hamilton CMA 4.1 a 3.5 a 7.7 a 5.1 a 868 a 856 a   1.1 a 1.8 b
Kingston CMA 2.2 a 1.7 a 4.1 b 3.1 b 895 a 966 a   2.6 a 2.4 a
Kitchener – Cambridge – Waterloo CMA 3.1 b 1.8 a 5.7 a 4.7 a 858 a 877 a   1.2 a 1.5 a
London CMA 4.0 b 4.7 a 7.3 a 8.3 a 862 a 873 a   1.2 a 1.3 a
St. Catharines – Niagara CMA 4.8 a 3.6 b 7.3 a 5.5 b 807 a 830 a   1.8 a 2.0 b
Oshawa CMA 3.7 a 3.0 a 5.1 a 4.5 a 905 a 920 a   1.8 c 1.4 a
Ottawa – Gatineau CMA (Ont. part) 2.4 a 1.8 a 5.1 a 4.8 a 1,061 a 1,056 a   2.9 b 2.2 b
Peterborough CMA 6.6 b 2.3 a 9.8 b 5.0 b 891 a 882 a   1.4 a 1.8 c
Thunder Bay CMA 2.9 a 2.1 a 3.8 b 3.1 b 759 a 762 a   3.1 b 3.2 d
Toronto CMA 2.7 a 1.6 a 4.7 a 3.0 a 1,134 a 1,124 a   1.0 d 2.1 c
Windsor CMA 12.4 a 9.4 a 15.9 a 11.3 a 736 a 761 a   ++   ++  

 

1.0 Rental Market Indicators
Privately Initiated Apartment Structures of Three Units and Over
Provinces and Major Centres1
Centres Vacancy Rates (%) Availability Rates (%) Average Rent for Two-Bedroom Units ($) (new and existing structures)   Percentage Change of Average Rent for Two-Bedroom Units(2) from Fixed Sample (existing structures only)
Apr-10 Apr-11 Apr-10 Apr-11 Apr-10 Apr-11   Apr-09 to Apr-10 Apr-10  to Apr-11
Manitoba 10,000+ 1.0 a 0.7 a 1.6 a 1.2 a 796 a 822 a   4.5 b 3.2 c
Winnipeg CMA 1.0 a 0.7 a 1.5 a 1.1 a 816 a 843 a   4.6 b 3.2 c
Saskatchewan 10,000+ (3) 2.4 a 2.5 a 3.6 a 3.7 a 857 a 883 a   6.7 a 4.3 a
Regina CMA 0.8 a 0.7 a 1.5 a 1.7 a 858 a 897 a   7.1 a 5.4 a
Saskatoon CMA 2.1 a 3.4 a 4.2 a 5.1 a 923 a 936 a   5.3 a 3.3 b
Alberta 10,000+ (4) 6.0 a 4.7 a 7.8 a 6.2 a 1,023 a 1,029 a   **   0.8 d
Calgary CMA 5.3 b 3.4 b 7.4 b 5.2 b 1,082 a 1,040 a   ++   ++  
Edmonton CMA 5.2 b 4.7 b 6.9 a 6.2 a 994 a 1,029 a   ++   ++  
British Columbia 10,000+ 3.1 a 3.7 a 4.1 a 4.8 a 983 a 1,015 a   2.9 c 2.1 b
Abbotsford CMA 6.6 a 6.6 a 7.5 a 8.1 a 783 a 797 a   1.4 a 1.9 b
Kelowna CMA 3.7 a 6.6 a 4.7 a 8.0 a 896 a 920 a   ++   ++  
Vancouver CMA 2.2 a 2.8 a 3.1 a 3.7 b 1,150 a 1,181 a   **   2.6 c
Victoria CMA 2.5 a 2.7 a 3.7 a 4.9 b 999 a 1,024 a   4.9 c 1.5 a
Canada CMAs (1) 2.9 a 2.5 a 5.4 a 4.3 a 848 a 864 a   1.8 c 2.2 a
Canada 10,000+ 3.1 a 2.7 a 5.5 a 4.5 a 823 a 839 a   1.8 b 2.2 a

1 Major centres refer to census metropolitan areas (CMAs), 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.

3 Includes both Alberta and Saskatchewan portions of Lloydminster CA.

4 Does not include Alberta portion of Lloydminster CA. For Lloydminster CA data, refer to Saskatchewan Highlights report. 

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