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Rental vacancy rates across Canada hit lowest since 2002

Last Updated Jan 15, 2020 at 11:43 am PDT

Downtown Vancouver is seen here from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol in November of 2019. (Riley Phillips for NEWS 1130)
Summary

Vancouver has the lowest vacancy rate in the country, as well as the highest average rent

Vancouver's rental vacancy rate was 1.1 per cent for purpose built apartments and 0.3 per cent for condos

Vancouver's rental vacancy rate was 1.1 per cent for purpose built apartments and 0.3 per cent for condos

OTTAWA — Across the country, apartment vacancy rates in 2019 hit their lowest level since 2002, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

Vancouver has the lowest vacancy rate in the country, as well as the highest average rent.

Vancouver’s rental vacancy rate was 1.1 per cent for purpose built apartments and 0.3 per cent for condos.

The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment comes in at $1,748 after a 4.9 per cent average increase.

City Councillor Jean Swanson says moves need to be made by all levels of government to solve the rental crisis.

The current state of the market means people making below $75,000 per year just can’t afford to pay rent.

“We need lots of government money for non-market, co-op and social housing,” she says.

At a municipal level, she says a change to taxes could generate the money needed to build non-market rentals.

“Another idea would be for them–for the province–to give the city the ability to have a progressive tax so that we could use the revenue from that to build housing.”

In terms of keeping rents down, she says vacancy and rent control would go a long way.

In 2019, the annual rent increase was set at 2.5 per cent, but Swanson says even that is too much and she wants to see a rent freeze across the board.

Once a tenant leaves, there is no limit on how much the rent can go up. Limiting the amount it can be increased between tenants would keep rents down.

“I think if we had vacancy control it would do a lot to help the renter situation. It would eliminate the profit motive form evictions,” she says.

Nationally, average rents increased by 3.9 per cent for a two-bedroom rental apartment as availability tightened, the fastest pace of same-sample rent growth since 2001.

The federal housing agency says the national vacancy rate for purpose built apartments was at 2.2 per cent, down from 2.4 per cent in 2018 for all bedroom types. The vacancy rate in condo rentals was at one per cent, down from 1.4 per cent.

Toronto and Montreal were at 1.5 per cent, and Halifax was one per cent, while vacancy rates for condos were 0.3 per cent in Vancouver and 0.8 per cent in Toronto.

Prairie cities saw much higher vacancies for dedicated rentals, including Regina at 7.8 per cent, Calgary at 3.9 per cent, and Winnipeg at 3.1 per cent.
Nationally, average rents increased by 3.9 per cent for a two-bedroom rental apartment as availability tightened, the fastest pace of same-sample rent growth since 2001.