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Vacancy rates up in Winnipeg and across Manitoba: survey

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Winnipeg’s apartment vacancy rate has jumped nearly a full percentage point over the past year, climbing to 2.5 per cent in October from 1.7 per cent a year earlier.

And it’s a similar story for Manitoba’s urban vacancy rate, which is the average vacancy rate for its seven largest urban centres combined. It jumped to 2.4 per cent from 1.6 per cent in October of last year, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said today in releasing the results of its Fall Rental Market Survey.

"Rental demand has been impacted by a moderation in net migration to Manitoba as well as modest employment growth," said Dianne Himbeault, CMHC Senior Market Analyst for Winnipeg.

"Higher vacancies are also attributed to the continued movement of existing renters to homeownership due to favourable conditions such as low mortgage rates and a rising selection of active listings in the resale market," Himbeault added.

While higher vacancy rates are welcome news for once-beleaguered renters, the bad news is that they’re also paying an average of 4.8 per cent more — $969 versus $911 — for a two-bedroom apartment in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area, which includes Winnipeg and 10 neighbouring municipalities.

And for the province’s seven largest urban centres combined, the increase over the past year was 4.6 per cent — $937 versus $887.

CMHC noted that while those increases surpass the Residential Tenancies Branch’s 2013 rent increase guideline of one per cent, there are some exceptions to the guideline that allow for above-the-guideline increases.

The most common exemptions are apartments renting for $1,140 or more per month and suites that are approved rehabilitated rental units, the agency said. New buildings less than 20 years old where occupancies started after March 7, 2005 represent another case where exemptions may apply.

Nationally, CMHC said there was little change over the past year in the average apartment vacancy rate for Canada’s 35 largest urban centres combined. It edged up to 2.7 per cent from 2.6 per cent.

The average rental rate for a two-bedroom apartment rose by 2.5 per cent to $894 from $875, the agency added.

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