Seniors’ housing vacancy drops in Ottawa

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The amount of available space inside seniors’ housing in Ottawa dropped by more than 20 basis points this spring, according to a report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. conducted in February and March.

Local vacancy decreased to 14.7 per cent from 17 per cent last year.

Ottawa comes in well above the national average of 10.6 per cent vacancy of standard spaces for seniors, defined as a room occupied by a resident paying market rent and receiving less than 1.5 hours of care per day.

Despite being above average, Ottawa is a good market for developers, said Sandra Perez Torres, a senior market analyst for CMHC.

“We’re talking about a stable market with one of the lowest unemployment rates (in the country), and that definitely helps keep the housing market healthy, not just for the senior market but also for the residential market,” Ms. Torres said.

The average rent paid monthly by a senior resident in a standard space in Ottawa is $2,953, a 3.1-per-cent increase year-over-year from $2,864 in 2011, according to the CMHC report. This includes bachelor units and private rooms where at least one meal is included in the rent.

Of all Ottawa spaces examined in the study, 79.1 per cent cost more than $2,500 per month.

By including Ottawa’s non-standard spaces for seniors, where residents receive at least 1.5 hours of care per day, the vacancy rate drops to 13.8 per cent.

Canada’s seniors’ housing vacancy remained relatively unchanged from last year, sitting at 10.6 per cent down from 10.7 per cent in 2011.

Vacancy rates varied across the country, from a high of 38.7 per cent in Newfoundland and Labrador to a low of 4.8 per cent in Manitoba. The vacancy rates for standard spaces in Ontario (14.4 per cent), British Columbia (12.6) and Alberta (11.3 per cent) were above the national average. The rates in Saskatchewan (6.7 per cent), Nova Scotia (6.9 per cent), New Brunswick (7.7 per cent), Prince Edward Island (8.2 per cent) and Quebec (8.4 per cent), were below it.

The national average of rent for a standard space was $1,966 per month in 2012, up from $1,903 in 2011. Quebec posted the lowest average rent at $1,410, while Ontario posted the highest average rent at $2,699.

According to the survey, 202,091 seniors lived in the 2,586 residences surveyed. Across the country, 204,496 spaces were on the market, of which the vast majority (81.8 per cent) were standard spaces.