Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Apartment vacancies rising, still among lowest in country

  • Print

Winnipeg's overall apartment vacancy rate has climbed to its highest level in seven years, but still remains one of the lowest in the country, according to a new market survey by Canada's national housing agency.

The latest Fall Rental Market Survey by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) shows Winnipeg's overall vacancy rate rose to 1.7 per cent in October from 1.1 per cent a year earlier.

That's the highest it's been since 2005, and is nearly a full percentage point higher than it was in October 2010, when it was a mere 0.8 per cent.

It's a similar story with Manitoba's overall rate. It rose to 1.6 per cent from 1.0 per cent, and the last time it was that high was 2006.

But despite the improvement, CMHC said Winnipeg still has one of the lowest vacancy rates among the 35 Canadian cities it surveyed. The only ones with lower rates are Regina (1.0 per cent), Thunder Bay (1.1 per cent), Calgary (1.3 per cent) and Guelph (1.4 per cent. Three others -- Toronto, Kingston and Edmonton -- have the same rate as Winnipeg.

Officials with two local student groups said while the improvement is welcome, many students and low-income earners are still having a hard time finding suitable accommodations in Winnipeg.

"It's a consistent battle they face," said Zach Fleisher, vice-president advocate for the University of Winnipeg Students Association.

And if they do find an apartment, Fleisher said it's often either more costly than they had hoped, or it's in a less desirable area.

"I think the city and the province still need to come up with a strategy for creating more affordable rental units for students and lower-income earners," he added.

University of Manitoba Student Union president Bilan Arte said there's also a severe shortage of rental units within a reasonable distance of the U of M's Fort Garry campus.

Arte said the university has a golden opportunity to address this long-standing crisis by ensuring a large number of affordable housing units are included in the redevelopment plans for its Southwood golf course land.

CMHC's senior market analyst for Winnipeg said there has been an increase this year in the number of new rental units under construction in the city -- 844 in the first 11 months of the year versus 812 in all of 2011.

Dianne Himbeault said there's also been an increase in the number of rental condominiums -- units purchased by investors and then rented out to other parties. She said 14.5 per cent of 13,863 condos in the city as of October were rental units, versus 13.8 per cent a year earlier.

Himbeault said the net gain of 250 more rental units in Winnipeg in the past year, combined with a slight moderation in net migration to the province, is what helped to boost the overall vacancy rate.

She agreed the improvements were most noticeable at the higher end of the rental market. She said the vacancy rate for units with monthly rental rates of $1,095 or higher was 4.5 per cent, versus 0.9 per cent for those in the $600 to $695 range.

The survey found in the past year, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Winnipeg increased by 3.6 per cent to $911 from $875. For all of Manitoba's major urban centres combined, it rose by 3.7 per cent to $887 from $850.

That compared to a national average increase of 2.2 per cent to $901 from $883.

Although the provincial rent-increase guideline for this year was one per cent, Himbeault noted newly built and recently refurbished units are exempt from the guideline. And landlords facing rising maintenance and energy costs also can apply for rent increases above the guideline, she added.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 14, 2012 B16


Updated on Friday, December 14, 2012 at 6:57 AM CST: adds photo, adds fact box

10:58 AM: corrects spelling of Zach Fleisher

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg police comment on two officers that resuscitated baby

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Jan 10  2011 ‚Äì WEB STDUP ‚Äì Frosty morning at -15 degrees C , in pic frost covers the the Nellie McClung statue  on the MB Legislature grounds at 7am
  • STDUP ‚Äì Beautiful West End  begins it's summer of bloom with boulevard s, front yards  and even back lane gardens ,  coming alive with flowers , daisies and poppies  dress up a backyard lane on Camden St near Wolseley Ave  KEN GIGLIOTTI  / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  /  June 26 2012

View More Gallery Photos


Are you planning to go visit the new polar bear, Humphrey, at the Assiniboine Park Zoo?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google