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Vacancy rates for seniors on the rise in B.C., Quebec, Alberta

by Neil Sharma on 02 Jun 2019

Senior vacancy rates increased in British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta, but fell in Ontario

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Seniors’ Housing Reports—which surveyed seniors in February and March—vacancy rates for standard spaces in seniors’ residences in B.C. rose for the first time in six years, hitting 4.2% in 2018 from 3%. Non-standard spaces, however, had a vacancy rate that fell 2.1% in 2018 to 1.3% this year. The largest decline came in Vancouver and the Central Coast region/

As one would imagine, rents $1,900 and below were in high demand and had the lowest vacancy rate of all rent ranges. Last year, the lowest vacancy rates were in rental accommodations priced between $2,900 and $4,900 a month. The average rent for standard space grew 5.4% to reach $3,275 this year, but the highest rent increase was a whopping 22% for bachelor and studio units.

As in B.C., Quebec saw some breathing room with its rental spaces for sneiors. The vacancy rate for standard spaces in the province was 7.2%, which increased from 6.9% in 2018. The average rent for the spaces in 2019 was $1,788, and the capture rate was 18.4%d—vastly different than the 6.1% rate for the remaining provinces.

The overall vacancy rate in Alberta’s retirement homes dropped from 15.4% last year to 13.8% in 2019. The standard vacancy rate in Calgary, specifically, declined from 18.9% to 15% this year, while, conversely, it increased in Edmonton, albeit slightly, from 9.1% to 9.7%. For non-standard spaces in the province, the vacancy rate increased from 4% last year to 7.4% in 2019. Calgary, Edmonton and the rest of the province also witnessed vacancy rates rise for these units. The average monthly income for a standard space in Alberta declined from $3,296 in 2018 to $3,258 in 2019. According to the report, the average rent for non-standard spaces in Alberta this year is being led by Edmonton’s higher rents.

Ontario’s vacancy rate for standard spaces didn’t change much. Last year it was 10.4% and it fell marginally to 10.3% in 2019, with the vacancy rate for total spaces remaining untouched at 9.9%. Supply for seniors’ housing increased to 62,633 total units, a 2.4% increase, keeping apace demand. The average rent for these spaces also increased 3.9% to $3,759.

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