Alberta apartment vacancy rates lowest in Canada

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX:  Alberta is likely the best place to be in Canada if you’re looking for work. But if you need a place to live along with that new job, you might run into some problems.

According to the latest Rental Market Report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Alberta has the tightest rental accommodation markets in the country. In October, the vacancy rate in Calgary was a mere 1.0 per cent, down from 1.3 per cent in October of last year. That was the lowest rate among any major municipal market tracked by the CMHC. Edmonton had the second lowest at 1.4 per cent.

The strong in flow of interprovincial and international migrants into the province is the primary driver of the low vacancy rate in Alberta’s two major cities. Strong population growth benefits the general economy—boosting retail sales and personal services—but it puts pressure on the rental accommodation market. Typically, migrants rent before they decide to purchase a residential property.

The spillover effect of such a low vacancy rate is higher rent. Unlike certain other provinces, there are no restrictions on the monthly rents that landlords can charge in Alberta. The tight rental market may therefore lead to higher costs for renters. Hopefully better job opportunities and the highest wages in the country will help ease that pain.

Todd Hirsch • Chief Economist      December 16, 2013

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