Ottawa rental vacancy rate up

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Discouraging youth employment rates and a surge in condominium buying contributed to an increase in the percentage of vacant apartments in Ottawa during the spring period, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday.

By Mark Brownlee.

Ottawa saw its rental rate jump from 2.1 per cent during March 2012 to 3.7 per cent during the same period this year.

The numbers across Ontario were smaller, with the province as a whole seeing a 0.3 percentage point jump to land at 2.6 per cent.

The supply of rental units was the same as last year, said Ted Tsiakopoulos, Ontario regional economist with CMHC, meaning the rise in the vacancy rate largely came from a lag in demand.

“Your 18 to 24 age group has found it more difficult to land jobs over the last year,” said Mr. Tsiakopoulos in an interview. “For the most part this has really encouraged young adults to stay home longer.”

The number of recently completed condos in the city also played a role, he said. People have been buying condo units instead of renting apartments, while investors – whose rental activity isn’t included in the CMHC figures – have been snapping up those spaces to rent them out.

Bachelor, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments also saw their vacancy rates increase, according to the CMHC numbers.

The increase in Gatineau was even larger. It went from 2.1 per cent in March of last year to 4.0 per cent during the same period this year.

The vacancy survey, which was conducted in April, is meant to give a snapshot of the spring rental period.