Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Vacancy rate plummets for seniors residences outside city

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ASSISTED living suites are getting harder to find in Manitoba communities outside of Winnipeg, according to a new survey.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says in its third annual Seniors Housing Report, released Tuesday, that the average vacancy rate in seniors rental residences outside of the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) has plummeted to three per cent from 12 per cent in 2010.

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That's in stark contrast to the situation in the Winnipeg CMA, where the average vacancy rate increased by seven-tenths of a percentage point, to 7.8 per cent from 7.1 per cent.

Nationally, the rate remained virtually unchanged at 10.7 per cent, versus 10.8 per cent in 2010.

Dianne Himbeault, CMHC's senior market analyst for Manitoba, said it's difficult to know why the vacancy rate outside of Winnipeg dropped so much, because the survey doesn't delve into the reasons behind changes.

Himbeault said one possible explanation is that the seniors population outside Winnipeg is growing at a faster pace than the supply of available units.

Another is that the number of units surveyed outside of Winnipeg is relatively small -- 469 versus 2,977 within the CMA.

"So even a few more filled units can make a huge difference (in the vacancy rate)."

The CMHC survey looks at private and non-profit seniors residences where the majority of residents are over age 65 and where services are offered that aren't found in traditional rental buildings, such as meals, housekeeping and laundry services.

Some of the other Manitoba findings are:

-- The units with the lowest vacancy rates are those with two or more bedrooms (4.5 per cent), and those renting for $1,500 to $1,999 a month (2.5 per cent).

-- The ones with the highest vacancy rates are those with the highest rents -- $2,500 or more a month. The vacancy rate there is 15.4 per cent.

-- The average rent for all types of seniors units in Manitoba increased by 5.4 per cent to $2,227 from $2,112.

-- The average rent is higher in Winnipeg than elsewhere in the province -- $2,283 a month versus $1,871.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2011 $sourceSection0

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