Canada’s overall vacancy rate declined for the second year in a row to reach 2.4% (3.0% in 2017), according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Rental Market Survey released today. This decline brings the vacancy rate for apartments in the primary rental market below the average of the last 10 years (3.0%).

The Rental Market Survey, conducted in October 2018, provides data and analysis for both the primary and purpose-built rental market as well as the secondary rental market. The primary rental market, consists of units in privately initiated, purpose-built rental structures of three units or more. The secondary rental market covers condominium apartments offered for rent.

Highlights in vacancy rates (Primary Market)

  • Nationally, demand for rental housing grew more than supply. For all surveyed centres the number of units occupied increased by 2.6% in October 2018 compared to October 2017, while the survey universe increased by approximately 1.9%.
  • The vacancy rate increased slightly in Ontario, British Columbia and Manitoba and decreased in Quebec, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces.
  • In British Columbia, the vacancy rate remained low despite a slight increase to 1.4%, compared to 1.3% in 2017. Some of the lowest vacancy rates were recorded in Vancouver (1.0%), Abbotsford-Mission (1.0%) and Victoria (1.2%).
  • In Ontario, the vacancy rate remained near historical lows at 1.8%, compared to 1.6% in 2017. The lowest vacancy rates can be found in Kingston (0.6%) and Toronto (1.1%).
  • Manitoba posted a slight increase in its vacancy rate from 2.7% in 2017 to 2.9% in 2018.
  • In Quebec, the rental market has tightened significantly: the vacancy rate went from 3.4% in 2017 to 2.3% in 2018. The lowest rate being in Gatineau (1.2%).
  • The vacancy rate declined in Alberta from 7.5% in 2017 to 5.5% in 2018 and in Saskatchewan, more modestly from 9.3% in 2017 to 8.7% in 018.
  • In the Atlantic, all provinces saw a decline in vacancy rates: Prince Edward Island from 1.2% in 2017 to 0.3% in 2018, in Nova Scotia from 2.6% in 2017 to 2.0% in 2018 and in New Brunswick 4.1% in 017 to 3.2% in 2018 is due to a steady rise in rental demand. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the vacancy rate decreased from 6.6% in 2017 to 6.0% in  2018.

Highlights in average rents for two-bedroom apartments (Primary Market)

  • Nationally, the average rent for two-bedroom apartments increased by 3.5% during the surveyed period from October 2017 to October 2018, which is higher than the inflation observed in Canada during the same period.
  • British Columbia had the largest increases in average rent with Kelowna (+9.4%), Victoria (+7.6%), Abbotsford-Mission (+8.2%) and Vancouver (+5.5%).
  • Large increases were observed in Ontario, including Peterborough (+7.6%), Oshawa (+6.1%), Ottawa (+5.8%), Barrie (+5.2%), Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo (+5.5%) and Toronto (+5.2%).
  • In Saskatchewan, where vacancy rates are highest, rents had slight movements in Regina (-0.5%) and Saskatoon (+0.4%).
  • For all surveyed centres, the average monthly rent for two-bedroom apartments (new and existing buildings combined) was $1,025 in October 2018.
  • The highest average monthly rents for two-bedroom apartments (in CMAs) were recorded in Vancouver ($1,649), Toronto ($1,467) and Calgary ($1,272), and the lowest in Trois-Rivières ($601), Saguenay ($608) and Sherbrooke ($639).

Highlights for secondary rental market

  • The average rental condominium vacancy rate across all surveyed centres decreased from 1.6% in October 2017 to 1.4% in October 2018.The lowest condominium vacancy rates were observed in Vancouver (0.3%), Victoria (0.4%), Kelowna (0.6%), Toronto (0.7%) and Hamilton (0.9%), while the highest vacancy rate was in Regina at 9.6%.
  • The highest average rents for two-bedroom rental condominium apartments were in Toronto ($2,393), Vancouver ($2,034) and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo ($1,614).
  • The lowest average rents for two-bedroom rental condominium apartments were in London ($1,200), Saskatoon ($1,200), Québec ($1,071) and Gatineau ($1,014).

Tailor-made reports are available for Canada, the provinces, Yellowknife and major centres.

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers objective housing research and information to Canadian governments, consumers and the housing industry.

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“Nationally, growth in rental housing demand outpaced growth in supply which led to the decline in the national vacancy rate. A sharp rise in international migration combined with the aging of the population and employment growth among youth, has stimulated demand for rental housing.”
– Aled ab Iorwerth, Deputy Chief Economist, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Information on this release:

Angelina Ritacco
CMHC Media Relations

Leonard Catling
CMHC Media Relations
(604) 787-1787

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Date Published:: November 28, 2018