Vacancy rates creeping up

The local rental market continues to tilt in tenants’ favour, although the situation varies with apartment size.

A vacancy sign on a Lacombe apartment building is another example of the loosening of Central Alberta properties for rent.

The local rental market continues to tilt in tenants’ favour, although the situation varies with apartment size.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.’s spring rental market survey indicates that the average vacancy rate for private apartments in Red Deer in April was 3.9 per cent, up from 3.2 per cent a year earlier.

Vacancy rates in the city ranged from 1.6 per cent in the case of apartments with three or more bedrooms, to 4.6 per cent for two-bedroom units. Bachelor suites had a 3.1 per cent vacancy rate and in the case of one-bedroom apartments it was 3.2 per cent.

Last April, CMHC determined that bachelor suites in Red Deer had a 5.3 per cent vacancy rate, with one-bedroom units three per cent, two-bedrooms 3.2 per cent and larger apartments 2.9 per cent.

When it came to rent, the average monthly cost in Red Deer was $799 in April, according to the CMHC survey. That’s virtually unchanged from 12 months earlier.

Bachelor suites were renting for $622, up from $570 in April 2008; one-bedroom units averaged $720, down from $723; two-bedroom apartments came in at $858, also down from a year ago when the figure was $866; and rental accommodations with three or more rooms were $1,001, as compared with the earlier number of $1,013.

“The downturn in economic activity and in the employment market has contributed to higher vacancies across the province,” said Richard Corriveau, CMHC’s manager of market analysis for the Prairies and Territories.

Still, the situation for renters could be better, said Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, chair of the Red Deer Housing Committee.

Higher vacancy rates is welcome news, said Vanderschaeghe, whose committee promotes “available, affordable, accessible and decent housing.” But, she added, rents remain a barrier for many, including single parents.

“It’s still a pretty tough market.”

Vanderschaeghe said she’s surprised rent costs haven’t come down, considering the rise in vacancy rates and the current economic downturn. She suggested that the latter factor might be applying upward pressure on rental rates.

“You’ve got people moving from the buyers’ market into the rental market.”

Demand for rental accommodation remains strong enough for some landlords to resist dealing with certain groups, such as disabled people and aboriginals, said Vanderschaeghe.

Across Alberta, vacancy rates in communities with 10,000 or more people averaged 4.6 per cent in April, up from 2.9 per cent a year earlier. Cold Lake had the lowest rate at 1.2 per cent, while Grande Prairie topped the list at 8.5 per cent.

Among other cities of comparable size to Red Deer, Lethbridge had an average vacancy rate of 3.1 per cent in April, Medicine Hat was 4.3 per cent and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was 6.9 per cent.

Sylvan Lake’s April vacancy rate was four per cent, as compared with 0.7 per cent last year. In Lacombe, the April figure was 2.8 per cent, up from 1.2 per cent.

The average rent charged in Alberta centres with populations of 10,000 or more was $962 in April, $9 higher than the year previous.

Medicine Hat had the lowest average rent at $654, while the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was the costliest place for tenants, with an average rent of $2,088. The figure was $914 in Grande Prairie and $784 in Lethbridge.

The average rent in Sylvan Lake for April was $705, down from $757 a year ago. In Lacombe, the 2009 number was $713, as compared with $679 last April.

CMHC issued its spring rental market survey on Wednesday.

Its fall survey, which came out last year and looked at market conditions in October, concluded that year-over-year vacancy rates in Red Deer rose to 4.4 per cent from 2.7 per cent. It determined that the average rent in the city was at $818, up from $786.

Just Posted

NDP won’t stop until Trans Mountain is built, says minister

Deron Bilous speaks at Red Deer chamber luncheon

Red Deer officials will allow Calgary to trial alcohol in parks

The result could determine if local rules are relaxed

Red Deer city council could provide more clarity around closed-door meetings, says review

Confidential matters were found to be handled appropriately by city

Special lift improves Lacombe patients’ therapy

A new mobility lift is helping physical therapy patients at Lacombe Hospital… Continue reading

Red Deer group is pushing to create a local ‘international village’ to promote unity

A city made up of immigrants has no place for intolerance, say group members

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Judge denies requests from Calgary couple charged in son’s death

David and Collet Stephan wanted $4 million to pay for past and future legal bills

Fashion Fridays: Inspirational gym outfits

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Canadian tattoo artist inks Toronto skyline on Blue Jays pitcher Stroman

Marcus Stroman found a way to show his appreciation for Toronto when… Continue reading

Team World sweeps opening day against Team North America at Continental Cup

LAS VEGAS — Team North America has some serious ground to make… Continue reading

SXSW to screen ‘Run This Town,’ which includes Rob Ford character

TORONTO — A drama that features a portrayal of the late Toronto… Continue reading

Most Read