By Jane Londerville
Although not reported, rates also vary substantially by unit type across these cities – so there may be sufficient supply of three-bedroom units but a shortage of bachelors and one bedroom units, for example. Although a rental market is considered to be balanced if it has a vacancy rate of 3%, a vacancy higher than this does not necessarily mean there is a healthy choice available for tenants.
The survey does not track the quality of the units for rent. Some counted in the 3% may be substandard and poorly maintained. They may be poorly insulated, requiring high utility costs that make them unaffordable. Or they may be poorly located for families with children.
There are also rental units missing from the market survey. CMHC measures vacancy in buildings with three or more units, so apartments above stores on the main street and most rented condos are not included. In some centres, the vacancy rates for these types of units moves with the overall rate but in some cases these categories might have a different vacancy than the rest of the market.
While the rental survey provides a good overview of the health of the rental market and how it is changing over time in each locale, to fully understand the health of each market requires further investigation at the local level.
Jane Londerville is a professor in the Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies, specializing in real estate and housing, at the University of Guelph