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Apartment vacancies expected to increase

More new, renovated units opening up

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Local apartment-vacancy rates are expected to jump by nearly a full percentage point between now and late next fall, a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation official said Wednesday.

The results of the corporation's latest market survey, released Wednesday, peg Manitoba's overall rental apartment vacancy rate at 2.1 per cent and Winnipeg's at two per cent as of April.

However, its senior market analyst in Winnipeg said those rates are both expected to jump to nearly three per cent by October, when the corporation does its next market survey.

The last time Winnipeg had an apartment-vacancy rate of three per cent was in 1999.

Dianne Himbeault said a combination of more new rental units being built, more recently renovated units coming back onto the market and lower migration numbers should help drive rates back up.

She noted net migration declined last year to 8,576 people from 10,278 in 2012, and the apartment rental universe added 375 new units in the past year.

That's what helped to boost Manitoba's vacancy rate to 2.1 per cent from 1.8 per cent in April 2013, and to push Winnipeg's rate up a tick to two per cent from 1.9 per cent.

CMHC said vacancy rates have risen in the past year in nearly all of the seven urban areas surveyed.

The other six are Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Thompson, Winkler, Steinbach and the RM of Hanover, and the April rates range from a low of 1.7 in Thompson to a high of 4.3 per cent in Winkler.

Although the Winnipeg and Manitoba rates are higher than they were in April 2013, they're down from where they were last October, when Manitoba's rate was 2.4 per cent and Winnipeg's was 2.5 per cent.

Himbeault noted market conditions often differ in the spring and fall, which is why CMHC prefers to do year-over-year comparisons.

The April survey also found the average two-bedroom rent increased by 3.2 per cent in the past year in Manitoba, and by 3.4 per cent in Winnipeg. Winnipeg's average two-bedroom rental rate was $969 per month, while Manitoba's was $940.

"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 noted.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2014 B9

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