Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

June 15, 2010 08:15 ET

CMHC Spring 2010 Rental Market Survey

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - June 15, 2010) - 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 (with 10,000 or more inhabitants) reached 2.5 per cent in April, up by 0.2 of a percentage point over a year earlier.

"As in the recent past, the spring 2010 survey results reflected the meeting of offsetting factors, which, in the end, slightly favoured the easing of the market. Among the factors that contributed to the easing of the markets, two are noteworthy: the relatively weak job market for young people and the movement to homeownership. But while certain factors were causing rental market conditions to ease, others were acting in the opposite direction: the demographic phenomena, including migration and aging, and also, on the supply side, a small share of newly completed rental dwellings," stated Kevin Hughes, Regional Economist at CMHC.

As well, the survey results revealed larger changes in several CMAs, and even a small decrease in the Québec area. For the other urban agglomerations, the results show an almost identical rate (2.4 per cent) in centres with 10,000 to 49,999 inhabitants and a more notable increase in the case of agglomerations with 50,000 to 99,999 inhabitants (2.8 per cent in the spring of 2010, versus 2.4 per cent during the same period in 2009).

"The picture of the market according to apartment size was fairly uniform across the province and had not changed since the last three 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 (2.2 per cent and 2.0 per cent, respectively) than for bachelor units (4.8 per cent)," added Kevin Hughes.

The estimated change in the average rent in existing structures was more modest, with an increase of 2.2 per cent over 2009. And, the availability rate also rose compared to last spring.

Illustrating the conditions described above, the vacancy rate in the Montréal CMA remained relatively stable for a third straight year. The vacancy rate there rose marginally (from 2.7 per cent to 2.8 per cent). As well, demand for more spacious dwellings, particularly from families, was evidently still sustained.

The Québec CMA once again had the tightest rental market among all the metropolitan areas across Canada. The vacancy rate there was 0.4 per cent this past April. This market indicator revealed a very strong demand, which was attributable, in part, to a still active labour market in the area.

In the Gatineau area, rental market conditions eased, as the vacancy rate reached 2.8 per cent in April 2010, compared to 2.0 per cent in the spring of 2009. This easing trend was largely due to the economic conditions favouring access to homeownership.

Once again this year, the Sherbrooke CMA rental market eased. From 2.5 per cent in the spring of 2009, the vacancy rate there reached 3.7 per cent in the same month this year. The increase in the Sherbrooke area vacancy rate observed in 2010 resulted from a slowdown in demand. This weakening was caused mainly by the movement to homeownership (thanks to the low mortgage rates), combined with a youth job market that is just starting to pick up again.

The rental market also eased in the Trois-Rivières CMA over the past year, with a vacancy rate that reached 2.5 per cent this past April, versus 1.1 per cent during the corresponding period in 2009. A significant supply of new dwellings, combined with a less vigorous demand, pushed up the proportion of vacant units in the Trois-Rivières area.

In the Saguenay CMA, the vacancy rate was 1.8 per cent in April 2010. This level represented a small increase over a year ago and marked the end of the tightening that was observed on the market for the first time in October 2009.


In our analysis, we have deliberately avoided making comparisons between the results of the April 2010 rental market survey and the October 2009 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.

As Canada's national housing agency, CMHC draws on more than 60 years of experience to help Canadians access a variety of quality, environmentally sustainable and affordable homes. CMHC also provides reliable, impartial and up-to-date housing market reports, analysis and knowledge to support and assist consumers and the housing industry in making vital decisions. 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-09   Apr-10   Apr-09   Apr-10   Apr-09   Apr-10   Apr-09   Apr-10   Apr-09   Apr-10  
Ottawa-Gatineau CMA (Que.part) 1,7 c 5,8 d 1,8 b 2,8 b 2,3 b 2,7 b 1,3 a 2,0 c 2,0 a 2,8 a
Montréal CMA 4,9 c 5,3 c 3,2 c 2,9 b 1,8 b 2,4 b 2,6 c 2,1 c 2,7 a 2,8 a
Québec CMA 1,1 a 0,1 a 1,2 a 0,7 a 0,4 a 0,4 b 0,3 b 0,3 b 0,6 a 0,4 a
Saguenay CMA ** - ** - 1,6 c 2,8 b 0,6 a 1,3 a 0,8 d 0,9 a 1,1 a 1,8 b
Sherbrooke CMA 5,4 d 5,3 c 3,0 b 3,8 c 1,9 b 3,6 b 2,5 c 3,1 c 2,5 a 3,7 b
Trois-Rivières CMA ** - ** - 1,7 c 2,9 b 0,5 a 1,9 b 1,0 a 2,5 c 1,1 a 2,5 b
Québec CMAs 4,7 c 4,9 c 2,9 a 2,7 b 1,6 a 2,2 a 2,1 c 1,9 b 2,3 a 2,5 a
Québec CA 50,000-99,999 6,9 c 4,3 d 3,9 c 3,4 c 1,5 a 2,4 a 1,9 b 2,7 b 2,4 a 2,8 a
Québec CA 10,000-49,999 2,9 a 5,1 b 2,6 a 3,1 a 2,2 a 2,1 a 2,1 a 1,6 a 2,3 a 2,4 a
Québec 10,000+ 4,7 c 4,8 c 2,9 a 2,7 a 1,6 a 2,2 a 2,1 b 2,0 b 2,3 a 2,5 a

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)

(ii) Data suppressed to protect confidentiality or data is not statistically reliable

++ change in rent is not statistically significant. This means that the change in rent is not statistically different than zero (0)

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
    Bertrand Recher
    Senior Market Analyst
    Elisabeth Koulouris
    Senior Market Analyst
    Gatineau (Outaouais, Abitibi)
    Patrice Tardif
    Senior Market Analyst
    Sherbrooke (Estrie)
    Patrice Tardif
    Senior Market Analyst
    Trois-Rivieres (Mauricie)
    Marie-Elaine Denis
    Market Analyst
    Sebastien Paquet-Poirier
    Market Analyst