Senior housing vacancy rate remains around 10% in Canada

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) said the vacancy rate has remained stable from 10.8% last year, going to 10.7% this year.

“Vacancy rates and rent levels in the seniors’ housing market are typically higher than those in the traditional rental market,” said Bob Dugan, chief economist for CMHC. “Services and amenities provided in seniors’ residences are key contributors to this.”

The rate varied widely per province – it was as high as 37.6% in Newfoundland and Labrador and as low as 4.1% in Saskatchewan.

Average rents were also found across a wide spectrum. With at least one meal included, the average rent was $1,909 nationally a month in 2011 for senior housing. The lowest rent was in Quebec at $1,397, compared to $2,677 in Ontario.

“Give the additional amenities and services provided in most residences, rents are typically higher in seniors’ residences than in the conventional rental market,” said the report.

Those services could include a 24-hour bell service, on-site nurses, transportation and an exercise room, among many other options.

Seniors are not all living in a typical nursing home complex, either. More than half, 52.6%, of the seniors’ spaces were semi-private, ward, bachelor units and private rooms. That figure got as high as 89% in Prince Edward Island and 80.5% in Manitoba. But the rest lived in what the CMHC defined as “one-bedroom plus” units.

The number of seniors is growing in Canada. The percentage of Canadian residents over the age of 65 has risen from 9.7% in 1981 to 14.1% in 2011, and is expected to reach 15.9% in 2016, according to Statistics Canada.

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