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Apartment vacancy rate in province up slightly

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Manitoba’s spring apartment vacancy rate has improved a little from a year ago, while Winnipeg’s has remained relatively unchanged, according to a new Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation survey.

The agency said the overall vacancy rate for Manitoba’s seven largest urban centres — Winnipeg, Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Thompson, Winkler, Steinbach and the Rural Municipality of Hanover — was 2.1 per cent in April. That’s up from 1.8 per cent the same time last year.

Winnipeg’s rate was 2.0 per cent versus 1.9 per cent.

"A lower level of migration to Manitoba and additions to the rental stock through new construction contributed to a vacancy rate above two per cent," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC’s senior market analyst for Winnipeg.

"Net migration declined last year to 8,576 people from 10,278 in 2012," she said, "while the apartment rental universe in April 2014 recorded a net gain of 375 units."

CMHC said most of the urban centres saw vacancy rates rise. Thompson had the lowest rate, at 1.7 per cent, while Winkler had the highest, at 4.3 per cent.

On the basis of a sample of structures common to both the 2013 and 2014 surveys, the average two-bedroom rent also increased by 3.2 per cent in Manitoba, and by 3.4 per cent in Winnipeg, the survey showed.

"While same sample rent increases surpassed the Residential Tenancies Branch’s rent increase guideline for Manitoba of two per cent for 2014, there are some exceptions to the guideline that allow for a larger than two per cent rent increase," CMHC said.

Winnipeg’s average two-bedroom rate, which was the highest among the seven centres, was $969 per month. Winkler had the lowest rental rate, at $686, while the average for Manitoba was $940.

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