Canada’s Rental Vacancy Rate Increases

OTTAWA, December 13, 2012 — The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada’s 35 major centres1 increased to 2.6 per cent in October 2012, from 2.2 per cent in October 2011, according to the fall Rental Market Survey2 released today by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

“Lower levels of household formation among young adults reduced rental housing demand,” said Mathieu Laberge, Deputy Chief Economist at CMHC’s Market Analysis Centre.  “This, combined with an increase in the supply of newly constructed, purpose-built rental apartments, pushed Canada’s vacancy rate upward.  Meanwhile, demand for rental condominium apartments remained strong, with the vacancy rate holding steady in most of Canada’s largest urban centres, including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The results of CMHC’s fall survey reveal that, in October 2012, the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates in the primary apartment rental market were in Regina (1.0 per cent), Thunder Bay (1.1 per cent) and Calgary (1.3 per cent).  The centres with the highest vacancy rates were in Saint John (9.7 per cent), Windsor (7.3 per cent) and Moncton (6.7 per cent).

Overall, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments in existing structures across Canada’s 35 major centres increased 2.2 per cent between October 2011 and October 2012, the same pace of rent increase that was recorded between October 2010 and October 2011. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in new and existing structures was $901 in October 20123.  The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures in Canada’s major centres were in Vancouver ($1,261), Toronto ($1,183) and Calgary ($1,150).  The lowest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments in new and existing structures were in Saguenay ($549), Trois-Rivières ($550) and Sherbrooke ($578).

CMHC’s October 2012 Rental Market Survey also covers condominium apartments offered for rent in 11 large urban centres, including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.  Rental condominium vacancy rates ranged from a high of 3.2 per cent in Ottawa to a low of 0.9 per cent in Saskatoon, holding steady in most centres from October 2011.  Average monthly rents for two-bedroom condominium apartments were highest in Vancouver ($1,662) and lowest in Québec ($1,022).

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.

For more information, call 1-800-668-2642.  CMHC Market Analysis standard reports are also available free for download at CMHC Housing Market Information.

Follow CMHC on Twitter @CMHC_ca

1Major 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).

2CMHC’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 fall survey covers apartment and row structures containing at least three rental units and, unlike the spring survey, reports information on:  a) Smaller geographic zones within centres; b) Secondary rental market (rented condominium apartments, single detached, semi-detached, duplexes or accessory apartments).

3Year-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 October 2011 and October 2012 surveys provides a better indication of actual rent increases paid by tenants.

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. Rental Market Report – Canada Highlights – containing at a glance rental market information for Canada’s 35 major centres
  2. Rental Market Report – Provincial Highlights – providing a summary of rental market statistics for urban centres with populations of 10,000 and more in each province and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
  3. Rental Market Statistics Report – a sourcebook of statistical tables with national, provincial and local rental housing market data

Note:  A table of vacancy rates, availability rates and rents is attached.

1.0 Rental Market Indicators
Privately Initiated Apartment Structures of Three Units and Over
Provinces and Major Centres1
  Vacancy Rates (%)(2) Availability Rates (%) Average Rent 2-Bedroom ($) (New and existing structures) Percentage Change of Average Rent 2-Bedroom (3) From Fixed Sample (Existing structures only)
Centres Oct. 11 Oct. 12 Oct. 11 Oct. 12 Oct. 11 Oct. 12 Oct. 10
to
Oct. 11
Oct. 10
to
Oct. 11
Newfoundland & Labrador 10,000+ 1.3 a 2.2 a 1.6 a 2.5 a 701 a 725 a 5.0 a 4.0 a
St. John's CMA 1.3 a 2.8 a 1.8 a 3.3 a 771 a 798 a 5.4 a 4.0 a
Prince Edward Island 10,000+ 2.9 a 5.0 a 4.0 a 6.1 a 745 a 787 a 2.2 a 2.7 a
Charlottetown CA 3.3 a 5.7 a 4.5 a 7.0 a 761 a 803 a 2.4 a 2.9 a
Nova Scotia 10,000+ 2.7 a 3.4 a 3.3 a 4.1 a 882 a 909 a 1.7 b 2.7 a
Halifax CMA 2.4 a 3.0 a 3.1 a 3.9 a 925 a 954 a 1.7 b 2.7 a
New Brunswick 10,000+ 4.8 a 6.9 a 5.3 a 7.5 a 687 a 707 a 2.2 a 2.7 a
Moncton CMA 4.3 a 6.7 a 4.9 a 7.6 a 715 a 731 a 1.8 a 1.9 b
Saint John CMA 5.9 a 9.7 a 6.7 a 10.1 a 670 a 691 a 3.1 b 3.4 b
Québec 10,000+ 2.6 a 3.0 a 3.0 a 3.5 a 684 a 681 a 2.6 a 0.9 a
Ottawa-Gatineau CMA (Que. Part) 2.2 a 3.3 b 2.8 a 4.3 b 731 a 743 a 2.0 a 2.3 b
Montreal CMA 2.5 a 2.8 a 3.0 a 3.4 a 719 a 711 a 2.5 a 0.8 a
Québec CMA 1.6 a 2.0 a 1.8 a 2.3 a 718 a 741 a 3.0 b 2.3 a
Saguenay CMA 1.4 a 2.0 b 1.7 a 2.4 b 557 a 549 a 3.5 c ++  
Sherbrooke CMA 4.7 a 5.0 a 4.9 a 5.2 a 577 a 578 a 1.5 a 0.8 a
Trois-Rivières CMA 3.9 b 5.2 a 4.1 b 5.4 a 547 a 550 a 2.8 a ++  
Ontario 10,000+ 2.2 a 2.5 a 3.8 a 4.1 a 1,002 a 1,033 a 1.8 a 2.7 a
Barrie CMA 1.7 b 2.0 a 3.4 b 4.3 b 1,001 a 1,037 a 3.0 c 1.6 b
Brantford CMA 1.8 a 3.5 b 3.1 b 5.2 b 792 a 838 a ++   2.7 c
Greater Sudbury/Grand Sudbury CMA 2.8 a 2.7 a 3.0 b 3.9 b 881 a 915 a **   4.2 c
Guelph CMA 1.1 a 1.4 a 2.1 a 2.7 a 903 a 941 a 0.9 a 3.3 b
Hamilton CMA 3.4 a 3.5 a 6.2 a 6.7 a 884 a 886 a 1.5 a 3.1 a
Kingston CMA 1.1 a 1.7 a 2.2 a 2.9 a 965 a 1,005 a 1.6 a 3.1 a
Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA 1.7 a 2.6 a 3.4 a 4.3 a 889 a 908 a 1.5 a 3.1 a
London CMA 3.8 a 3.9 a 5.8 a 6.1 a 881 a 919 a 0.8 a 2.4 a
St. Catharines-Niagara CMA 3.2 a 4.0 a 5.3 a 5.9 a 833 a 862 a 1.5 a 2.6 a
Oshawa CMA 1.8 a 2.1 a 3.2 a 3.4 a 941 a 939 a 2.0 b 1.5 a
Ottawa-Gatineau CMA (Ont. Part) 1.4 a 2.5 a 3.2 a 4.6 a 1,086 a 1,115 a 2.3 a 2.0 a
Peterborough CMA 3.5 a 2.7 a 4.8 a 4.8 a 899 a 904 a 2.0 b 1.6 b
Thunder Bay CMA 1.7 a 1.1 a 2.9 a 2.0 a 772 a 818 a 2.9 a 5.4 b
Toronto CMA 1.4 a 1.7 a 2.9 a 3.0 a 1,149 a 1,183 a 1.9 a 2.8 a
Windsor CMA 8.1 a 7.3 a 9.2 a 8.4 a 753 a 778 a 0.4 b 1.7 c
Manitoba 10,000+ 1.0 a 1.6 a 1.5 a 2.4 a 850 a 887 a 4.0 b 3.7 b
Winnipeg CMA 1.1 a 1.7 a 1.6 a 2.5 a 875 a 911 a 4.2 b 3.6 b
Saskatchewan 10,000+ (4) 1.9 a 2.2 a 2.7 a 3.1 a 913 a 957 a 4.6 a 3.9 a
Regina CMA 0.6 a 1.0 a 0.9 a 1.6 a 932 a 979 a 6.2 a 4.8 a
Saskatoon CMA 2.6 a 2.6 a 4.0 a 3.8 a 966 a 1,002 a 2.8 a 2.4 a
Alberta 10,000+ (5) 3.4 a 2.0 a 4.4 a 2.8 a 1,044 a 1,085 a 1.3 a 4.3 a
Calgary CMA 1.9 a 1.3 a 3.2 a 2.6 a 1,084 a 1,150 a 1.9 a 5.9 a
Edmonton CMA 3.3 a 1.7 a 4.3 a 2.3 a 1,034 a 1,071 a 0.9 a 3.8 a
British Columbia 10,000+ 2.4 a 2.7 a 3.3 a 3.6 a 1,050 a 1,073 a 2.2 a 2.0 a
Abbotsford-Mission CMA 6.7 a 4.2 a 7.5 a 5.4 a 800 a 818 a 2.6 a 1.2 a
Kelowna CMA 3.0 a 4.0 a 4.0 a 4.5 a 922 a 927 a -0.5 b ++  
Vancouver CMA 1.4 a 1.8 a 2.1 a 2.7 a 1,237 a 1,261 a 2.4 a 2.3 a
Victoria CMA 2.1 a 2.7 a 3.3 a 3.7 a 1,045 a 1,059 a 2.4 a 0.9 a
Canada CMAs (1) 2.2 a 2.6 a 3.2 a 3.6 a 883 a 901 a 2.2 a 2.2 a
Canada 10,000+ 2.5 a 2.8 a 3.4 a 3.7 a 856 a 875 a 2.2 a 2.2 a

1Major centres refer to Census Metropolitan Areas (CMA), except for Charlottetown.
2A unit is considered vacant if, at the time of the survey, it is physically unoccupied and ready for immediate rental. In other words, a new tenant can sign a lease for a vacant unit
and move in immediately. A rental unit is considered available if it is unoccupied or the existing tenant has given or has received notice to move, and a new tenant has not signed
a lease. In other words, an available unit is one for which a lease can be signed by a new tenant, whether the unit is occupied or not. By definition, the availability rate incorporates
the vacancy rate. The availability rate will thus always be higher than the vacancy rate.
3The 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.
4Includes both Alberta and Saskatchewan portions of Lloydminster Census Agglomeration (CA).
5Does not include Alberta portion of Lloydminster CA. For Lloydminster CA data, refer to Saskatchewan Highlights report.

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