InterRent REIT says 'strong balance sheet' has it primed for 2021 bounceback

LIV apartments
InterRent REIT owns the LIV Apartment complex on Bell Street in Ottawa. (Google Street View image)

InterRent REIT says its books remain in good shape after a tumultuous year that saw the overall vacancy rate at the firm’s properties nearly double in the wake of the pandemic.

In its 2020 financial filings released this week, the Ottawa-based real estate investment trust said its funds from operations – a key cash-flow metric for REITs – rose nearly 11 per cent last year to $56.7 million. 

The company also boosted the size of its portfolio substantially in 2020, acquiring 880 suites as its total inventory surpassed 11,000 units. The additional cash flow from those properties helped bolster InterRent’s balance sheet as the vacancy rate across its portfolio jumped to 8.7 per cent, up from 4.4 per cent in December 2019.

On a positive note, the REIT said the vast majority of its tenants – 99 per cent – paid their rent on time in the fourth quarter. Just 0.4 per cent of tenants had their rent deferred.

Average monthly rents on properties the REIT has owned for at least a year climbed 4.4 per cent in 2020, from $1,286 to $1,354.  

$51.6M on hand

InterRent says it remains in a strong financial position to make more acquisitions and capitalize on an expected bounceback in the rental industry as the economy picks up steam. 

The company had $51.6 million in cash on hand on Dec. 31 as well as a total of $292 million in available credit. InterRent says mortgage financings and renewals have “progressed on schedule with no significant delays” as a result of COVID-19.

“The investments made in our portfolio over many years, combined with a strong balance sheet, provided the REIT with the ability to maintain rent levels and absorb the increased vacancy … while still posting good overall results for the year and positioning the REIT favourably for when immigration and student rentals resume,” InterRent CEO Mike McGahan said in a statement.

InterRent’s local holdings include the LIV Apartment towers on Bell Street in west Centretown. The company also owns a 47.5 per cent interest in Trinity Development Group’s proposed three-tower project at 900 Albert St. near Bayview Station after adding to its one-third stake in the development last year.

The company’s shares were down four cents to $14.63 in late-morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange Tuesday.