12/14/2012 20:16 EST | Updated 02/13/2013 05:12 EST

Yellowknife's rental vacancy rate rises

The latest numbers from the Canadian Mortage and Housing Commission show the vacancy rate for rental housing in Yellowknife has gone up over the past year.

In October 2012, 3.6 per cent of units were empty, compared to 1.5 per cent in October 2011.

Paige Saunders, who is a landlord and co-owner of a property development company, said he’s not having trouble renting rooms.

“A couple of years ago it was definitely a lot easier to rent a room. You'd get five or six calls per room,” he said.

“These days you're looking at two or three serious leads. Usually the process is surprisingly quick when you meet with someone who seems like they would fit within a day or two.”

The report attributes some of the shift to people leaving the city.

Saunders said with more condos opening up and new subdivisions, this could be the beginning of a trend.

Despite more vacancies, the report says rents continue to go up in Yellowknife. The average rent for a two-bedroom unit in the city increased 4.8 per cent to $1,641 a month.

Adrian Bell, a realtor with Century 21, said it may take a few years for landlords to stop raising rents.

"They're really reluctant to do that so it's going to take sustained high vacancy rates to force them to either slow the increases or perhaps, if we're lucky, decrease rents," he said.

Bell, who is also a city councillor, said even small increases in the number of rental units available affects the vacancy rate. He said the market should open up further if the city sticks to its plan to open up 150 new units for development each year.