Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

June 10, 2009 23:59 ET

CMHC spring 2009 Rental Market Survey

MONTREAL, June 10 - According to the Rental Market Survey
conducted in the spring by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the
average vacancy rate in privately initiated structures with three or more
housing units in Quebec's urban centres reached 2.3 per cent in April. "This
result, which was comparable to the rate observed at the same time last year,
well reflects the overall situation in centres with 100,000 inhabitants,"
stated Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist at CMHC.

For the other urban agglomerations (centres with 10,000 to 99,999
inhabitants), the survey results revealed an almost identical vacancy rate
(2.4 per cent), also showing stable market conditions in comparison with the
spring of 2008. However, the disaggregated results were more variable.

"The picture of the market according to apartment size was fairly uniform
across the province and had not changed since the last two spring surveys, as
the market was still tighter in the case of larger apartments. In fact, the
vacancy rates were significantly lower for two-bedroom and three-bedroom
apartments," added Kevin Hughes.

The estimated change in the average rent compared to 2008 attained 3.4
per cent. As for the availability rate, a trend similar to that of the vacancy
rate was observed.

According to the survey results, the vacancy rate in the Montréal CMA
reached 2.7 per cent in April. As in previous years, few new rental housing
units were added to the market, and demand stayed strong thanks to sustained
net migration. Like for the overall provincial rental market, the Montréal
area market was tighter in the case of larger dwellings.

The Québec area had the lowest vacancy rate (0.6 per cent) among the
CMAs. Market conditions stayed very tight as a result of the low volume of
rental housing construction and a vigorous demand. In the Québec CMA, the
economy-particularly, the creation of part-time jobs-and, in turn, net
migration remained strong, which helped to support demand.

In the Saguenay CMA, the vacancy rate reached 1.1 per cent in April 2009.
Compared to the other CMAs across Quebec, Saguenay had one of the tightest
rental markets. The small proportion of vacant units resulted from the greater
household formation in the area and the growth in part-time employment,
factors that played a key role. The limited increase in the supply of new
rental housing units also contributed to the tightening of the market.

The Trois-Rivières CMA rental market remained tight, as the vacancy rate
stood at 1.1 per cent in April. Even though many rental dwellings have been
built in the CMA in recent years, demand stayed strong, fuelled by significant
net migration. The greater supply was barely sufficient to meet demand, which
kept the vacancy rate low.

The vacancy rate reached 2.5 per cent in the Sherbrooke CMA. Even though
net migration was high, demand slowed in this area, likely on account of the
homeownership trend and a less favourable labour market for young people.

Across Quebec, Gatineau was the area where the vacancy rate decreased the
most significantly. A robust job market-especially for young people-favoured
the formation of renter households (among both the local population and
newcomers), which fuelled demand. However, this demand came up against a
stagnant supply. In fact, few rental dwellings were added to the housing


In our analysis, we have deliberately avoided making comparisons between
the results of the April 2008 rental market survey and the October 2007
survey. A key reason for this is that changes in rents, vacancy rates, and
availability rates between the spring and the fall may not be solely
attributable to changes in rental market conditions; they could also reflect
seasonal factors. For example, if more people tend to move in the spring than
in the fall, it could have an impact on both vacancy and availability rates,
as well as the level of rents. Alternatively, in centres where there are a
significant number of university students, vacancy and availability rates
could be higher in the spring if students move home for the summer.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada's national
housing agency for more than 60 years. CMHC is committed to helping Canadians
access a wide choice of quality, affordable homes, while making vibrant,
healthy communities and cities a reality across the country. For more
information, visit or call 1-800-668-2642.

Private Apartment Vacancy Rates (%)
by Bedroom Type
Québec - CMAs
Centre Bachelor 1 Bedroom 2 Bedroom 3 Bedroom+ Total
Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr- Apr-
08 09 08 09 08 09 08 09 08 09
CMA (Que.
part) 3.8c 1.7c 6.3c 1.8b 3.4c 2.3b 2.7c 1.3a 4.1b 2.0a
Montréal CMA 5.6c 4.9c 3.1b 3.2c 2.2a 1.8b 1.3a 2.6c 2.8a 2.7a
Québec CMA 3.6c 1.1a 1.4a 1.2a 0.6a 0.4a 0.7b 0.3b 1.1a 0.6a
Saguenay CMA 1.2a (xx) 2.2c 1.6c 1.8c 0.6a 1.3a 0.8d 1.8b 1.1a
CMA 4.5c 5.4d 3.3d 3.0b 1.3a 1.9a 1.3a 2.5c 2.1b 2.5a
CMA 3.5c (xx) 2.1b 1.7c 0.8a 0.5a 0.3b 1.0a 1.3a 1.1a
Québec CMAs 5.2b 4.7c 3.0a 2.9a 1.9a 1.6a 1.2a 2.1c 2.5a 2.3a
Québec CA
99,999 6.6c 6.9c 3.3c 3.9c 1.7b 1.5a 1.5a 1.9b 2.4a 2.4a
Québec CA
49,999 3.1c 2.9a 3.8a 2.6a 1.8a 2.2a 1.3a 2.1a 2.4a 2.3a
10,000+ 5.2b 4.7c 3.0b 2.9a 1.9a 1.6a 1.2a 2.1b 2.5a 2.3a

The following letter codes are used to indicate the reliability of
the estimates:

a - Excellent, b - Very good, c - Good, d - Fair (Use with Caution)
(xx) Data suppressed to protect confidentiality or data is not
statistically reliable
n/u No units exist in universe for this category n/s No units exist
in the sample for this category n/a Not applicable

Notice to Readers

Since October 2008, rental apartment structures serving senior clients
exclusively are excluded from the survey.

Contact Information

  • Province: Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist
    CMHC, (514) 283-4488; Montréal: Bertrand Recher, Senior Market Analyst, (514)
    283-2758; Québec: Elisabeth Koulouris, Senior Market Analyst, (418) 649-8098;
    Gatineau (Outaouais, Abitibi): Patrice Tardif, Senior Market Analyst, (514)
    283-2097; Sherbrooke (Estrie): Francis Cortellino, Market Analyst, (514)
    283-8391; Trois-Rivières (Mauricie): Marie-Elaine Denis, Market Analyst, (418)
    649-8100; Saguenay: Patrice Tardif, Senior Market Analyst, (514) 283-2097