Apartment vacancy rates drop, rents rise in Lower Mainland

Two bedroom rents average $1,311 in Metro Vancouver, foreign ownership estimated at 2.3 per cent (with chart)

A tightening vacancy rate points to fewer apartments available for rent in Metro Vancouver.

It’s getting tougher to find an apartment to rent in Metro Vancouver.

Rental vacancy rates fell to 1.0 per cent in October from 1.7 per cent a year earlier, according to the fall market survey by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

“Employment and population growth, together with higher post-secondary student enrolment, added to demand for rental housing,” said CMHC senior market analyst Robyn Adamache.

“Also the rising cost of home ownership may have encouraged some people to stay in rental housing rather than buy.”

The provincial vacancy rate fell from 2.4 per cent to 1.5 per cent, while the Abbotsford-Mission area vacancy rate edged down 0.1 to 3.1 per cent.

Adamache said the Abbotsford rate shows renters there have more options than those closer to Vancouver.

The survey found a two-bedroom apartment rented for an average of $1,311 per month in Metro Vancouver in October, up 2.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Two-bedroom rentals averaged less than $1,000 in three areas – Surrey, Langley and Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, which had the lowest average rent at $886.

The priciest areas to rent a two-bedroom were West Vancouver at $2,031, UBC at $1,917 and Vancouver’s Downtown/West End at $1,849

The average two-bedroom rent in the Abbotsford region was $835, up 1.1 per cent.

The survey for the first time estimates the proportion of condominium apartments directly owned by foreigners who live outside Canada – 2.3 per cent in Metro Vancouver, rising to 5.8 per cent in parts of Vancouver.

Adamache said that rate includes all foreign-owned condo units, including those that are rented out, and also unrented units that are just held as an investment or holiday home.

But it does does not include foreign owners who buy property here through a Canadian holding company.

Foreign ownership of real estate in the Vancouver area has been a topic of extensive speculation, with concerns raised that some neighbourhoods have many unoccupied homes. One failed Vancouver mayoral candidate proposed charging an extra tax on absentee owners who don’t rent out their homes.

AVERAGE RENTS IN LOWER MAINLAND |Create infographics