06/09/2011 02:15 EDT | Updated 08/09/2011 05:12 EDT

Rental Apartments In Canada Cities A Hard Find


CBC — The vacancy rate for rental apartments in Canada's cities decreased slightly to 2.5 per cent in April, a slight drop from the 2.9 per cent it was at during the same month a year earlier.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said in a report Thursday that a surge in immigrants seeking accommodation caused the vacancy rate to drop in Canada's 35 largest metropolitan areas.

"Recent immigrants tend to rent first before becoming homeowners," CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan said.

Not surprisingly, strong demand for apartments drove up prices, with the average price for a two-bedroom apartment in April pegged at $864 during the month, up 1.8 per cent from $848 a year earlier.

Condominium completions moved lower in the past few months, while rental apartment unit completions remained relatively stable. As a result, the overall demand for rental apartment units increased faster than the supply for this type of housing.

"Accordingly, this pushed Canada’s vacancy rate downward," Dugan said.

Winnipeg and Regina tied for the lowest vacancy rate in the country, at 0.7 per cent. Quebec City was next at one per cent, with Toronto coming next at 1.6 per cent and Kingston, Ont., at 1.7 per cent in April.

On the other side of the ledger, Windsor, Ont., had the highest vacancy rate in the country, at 9.4 per cent. Kelowna and Abbotsford, B.C., came next at 6.6 per cent, followed by Charlottetown at 4.9 per cent.

At the provincial level, Manitoba has the lowest vacancy rate at 0.7 per cent. On a provincial basis, the highest vacancy rate was in Alberta, at 4.7 per cent. All other provinces were above two per cent.

In terms of prices, Vancouver is the most expensive rental market in the country, with a standard two bedroom apartment going for $1,181 a month, on average. That's followed by Toronto, at $1,124, then Ottawa at $1,056 a month, then Calgary at $1,040.

Edmonton came next at $1,029 a month, followed by Victoria at $1,024 a month. No other city's average rent fpr two bedrooms came in higher than $1,000 a month. The city with the lowest average rent was Saguenay, Que., at $542.

Provincially, the highest average monthly rents were in Alberta, at $1,029. Rent was cheapest in Newfoundland and Labrador, with two-bedrooms going for $683 a month, on average.