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Bounty of rental properties to be found in Kelowna, says CMHC

In just a few short years Kelowna's gone from a notoriously difficult place to find a rental home, to a city with a bumper crop of vacancies.

Although local renters are already well versed in their opportunities, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation highlighted Kelowna's heavy vacancy rate on a national level Tuesday, when it listed the city among  the top five major centres  to rent a home in its spring rental market survey.

As of April of this year, the rental  vacancy rate sat at 5.2 per cent, which is significantly higher than it was in 2008 when it was 0.3 per cent—the lowest   rental vacancy rate in the country.

The swing in status can be attributed to a convergence of conditions sparked by the recession, explained CMHC market analyst Paul Fabri.

Last year, when the rental vacancy rate reached a peak of 6.6 per cent, economic and employment growth were slow so demand on a once heated market died off.

Then both mortgage rates and prices dropped, giving local renters a chance to make a move into home ownership, Fabri said.

At the same time, some of the projects aimed at lessening the strain on the rental market were completed, and several new rental buildings were opened for business.

"There was also some competition from investor owned units," he said.

All in all, however, conditions aren't going to get more bountiful for renters.

"This year we've seen vacancy rates come down," said Fabri.

"As we move into the latter part of 2012 and into 2013, we'll see our economy to pick up as the B.C. economy overall sees some improvement."

Kelowna is also expected to see further migration into the area, which may soak up some of the supply of investor owned properties that were listed as rentals in a stale real estate market.

If that means rental conditions tighten to previous conditions, CMHC also listed the other cities with high rental rates.

Ahead of Kelowna was Saint John N.B. with an 8.4 per cent rental rate and Windsor Ont. with a  7.7 per cent rate.  Moncton N.B., and Charlottetown P.E.I. rounded out the top five, with  a five per cent rental rate.

CMHC’s spring survey also reveals that, in April 2012, the major centres with the lowest vacancy rates were: Regina Sask. with 0.6 per cent rental rate; Québec and Saguenay with 0.7 per cent; and Guelph, Ont.at one per cent.

Overall CMHC’s spring Rental Market Survey found that the rental apartment availability rate in Canada’s 35 major centres was 4.4 per cent in April 2012, slightly up from 4.3 per cent in April 2011.

A rental unit is considered available if the unit is vacant (physically unoccupied and ready for immediate rental), or if the existing tenant has given or received notice to move and a new tenant has not signed a lease.

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