Good news Renters: Rental Vacancy Rates are on the Rise

Twice a year, CMHC conducts a Rental Market Survey that is meant to capture a snapshot of the vacancy rates, as well as the average rental rates across Canada.The accompanying graphic shows the vacancy rates for rental units in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA), the municipalities surrounding the urban core. Across the CMA, the average apartment vacancy rate is 2.5 per cent.Similar to most areas in Winnipeg, this overall percentage shows an increase from the 1.7 per cent in the previous year. In fact, this is the first time in more than a decade that the vacancy rate rose above two percent.

Image sourcing: Figure 1: Courtsey of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Image extracted from the Rental Market Report (October 2013)

mage sourcing: Figure 1: Courtsey of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Image extracted from the Rental Market Report (October 2013)

What do vacancy rates mean for renters?

By looking at the image above, the areas that make up the city’s downtown core, such as Fort Rouge and Centennial, have higher vacancy rates compared to the suburban areas such as Fort Garry, West Kildonan and St.Vital.With more available apartments located near the city’s financial district, it’s never been easier to live right next to where you might work. Forget the headaches of commuting – not only will you save money on gas and parking, walking is a great way to stay healthy and do your part for the environment.The highest vacancy rate in the CMA is Assiniboine Park at five per cent, whereas the lowest vacancy rate is Fort Garry at 1.6 per cent. Home to the University of Manitoba, Fort Garry is a bustling student hub, where the rental market is generally dominated by student housing and is almost always high in demand.Compared to other parts of the city, Assiniboine Park has a higher vacancy rate because the rent is more expensive. Many of the rental buildings are new or have recently undergone renovations. To cover these expenses, some landlords and property managers were forced to raise the rent.If Assiniboine Park is out of your budget, other areas that may be of interest are Lord Selkirk and Midland. These locations tend to have older rental units so the rent is less expensive. In these regions, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is as low as $643.

Factors affecting vacancy rates

So, why are vacancy rates on the rise in Winnipeg? A number of factors influence whether vacancy rates rise or decline. For example, the report indicates that more renters are making the leap towards homeownership because of the low mortgage rates and affordable prices.Since these renters are increasingly becoming homeowners, new renters have more choice. Whether it’s to be closer to work or amenities, these rising vacancy rates provide greater flexibility to choose a place that is best for you.

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