Vacancy rates drop to 0.8 per cent in Lower Mainland

Rents climb as demand for Metro Vancouver apartments outstrips supply

Rental vacancy rates have decreased to an average of 0.8 per cent across Metro Vancouver

It’s become tougher to find an apartment if you’re a renter.

The apartment vacancy rate in Metro Vancouver dropped to 0.8 per cent in October, the lowest level since 2008, according to a new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

That’s a slight decrease from 1.0 per cent a year earlier, and it’s been an even steeper drop from 3.1 to 0.8 per cent in the Abbotsford-Mission area.

Within Metro, vacancy rates were lower still in Vancouver – which had a rate of 0.6 per cent – as well as UBC, the North Shore and South Delta.

South of the Fraser, the vacancy rates were 1.9 per cent in Surrey and 1.5 per cent in Langley.

The rates decreased by at least one percentage point in Langley, Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge and Delta.

The report cites population growth as a prime factor in the tightening rental market, as increased demand outpaces the construction of new units.

Rising home prices in many markets may have deterred or delayed the home buying plans of some renters, keeping downward pressure on rental vacancy rates.

“Continued price gains in the resale market have kept tenants in the rental market longer,” the report said.

The average two-bedroom apartment now rents for $1,368 in Metro Vancouver, up from $1,311 a year earlier. In the Abbotsford-Mission area, two-bedroom rents are up to $864 from $835 a year ago.

Landlords are charging higher rents when units turnover, CMHC said, and the strong demand may also be allowing them to impose the maximum allowed rent increases on existing tenants.

Rents vary widely across the region – the report notes average rents in Surrey are $359 lower than in the City of Vancouver.

“The Abbotsford area, like much of the suburban area of Vancouver, is also becoming more desirable for its lower housing costs and strategic location,” the CMHC report said.

“While most residents of Abbotsford City stay in the region to work, there are a number of commuting options, including the relatively new Port Mann Bridge, which helps to reduce commute time to the west side of the Lower Mainland.”