As costs surge and availability plummets, it’s increasingly clear that Kelowna renters are in a pinch.
Kelowna has a 0.2 per cent rental vacancy rate, which is the lowest in the country, according a report from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released Tuesday. This time last year CMHC reported the vacancy rate to be at 0.6 per cent.
Diminishing supply has led to a rise in cost and CMHC reported that Kelowna also had the biggest rent-rate hike in the country, with the costs increasing by 8.6 per cent. According to the site PadMapper, the cost of one and two bedroom units is sitting at medians of $1,130 and $1,590, respectively.
While it’s getting more difficult to be a renter in Kelowna, there is relief ahead.
Coun. Luke Stack said earlier this year that the city had implemented some policies that were aimed at increasing the city’s rental stock.
“One of the things we have in the works at city council is tax incentives for purpose built rental housing,” Stack said this summer.
“That has been successful and we have approximately 1,500 rentals under construction. I’m optimistic that when those come along it may give us some relief.”
While conditions are tight in Kelowna, it’s not alone.
The average vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartment units across Canadian centres with a population of 10,000 or more decreased from 3.7 per cent in October 2016 to 3.0 per cent in October 2017, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s 2017 Rental Market Survey.
This reverses the increases observed in 2015 and 2016 and leaves the vacancy rate at its 10-year average. This national decline reflects a recovery in rental demand in Canada’s oil-producing provinces.
The Rental Market Survey provides data and analysis for both the primary and purpose-built rental market as well as the secondary rental market covering condominium apartments.
“Nationally, increased demand for purpose-built rental apartment units outpaced growth in supply, leading to a decline in the vacancy rate and a reversal of the trend we’ve seen over the last two years,” said Gustavo Durango, senior market analyst at CMHC.
“Demand for purpose-built rental apartments can be attributed to historically high levels of positive net international migration, improving employment conditions for younger households and the ongoing aging of the population.”
Abbotsford Mission has the same purpose-built rental vacancy rate as Kelowna, Victoria is next with 0.6 per cent and Vancouver has 0.9 per cent.
The next largest rent increases were in Victoria, which saw increases of 8.1 per cent and Vancouver, where costs rose by 6.2 per cent.
The CMHC numbers are for what it calls the primary rental market. That includes apartment complexes with three or more units that were built specifically to be used as rentals. It doesn’t include other types of rentals such as basement suites or homes that are being rented out.
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