The average rate rent vacancy across major Canadian cities is staggeringly different. There are some cities, such as Victoria and Abbotsford-Mission, BC, with a shockingly low rate vacancy of 0.5%, compared against the Saskatoon, SK, which has a vacancy rate of 10.3%. This discrepancy is massive, and there are cities that fall across the spectrum, most falling outside of the stable range. A certain amount of rental property should be vacant. If there are too few properties vacant it means that there is nowhere for newcomers to move into and no room for those currently renting to move. Too low of a rental rate can make rents rise astronomically. If it is too low it means that demand is very low and that the city may be struggling.

The average vacancy rate across Canada for rental apartment units is 3%, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, who also monitor the rates for individual provinces and cities. Winnipeg and a few other metropolitans across Canada are hitting this average. Most metropolitan areas, however, are falling dangerously low or climbing way high.  

As of 2016, the rate of vacancies in Winnipeg, MB was 2.8%. This is a very stable rate for people looking to move in, as well as those who rent their properties. It is a good indication that the city is thriving but that it is not bursting at the seams. There are only two other cities in Canada with a similar rental vacancy rate: Windsor, ON at 2.9% and Ottawa, ON at 3.0%. All other cities fall outside of this average.

There are some cities that come reasonably close to the 3% average. Kingston, ON and Halifax, NS both rest at 2.6%, These rates are not too far outside of the average, but they have a chance of creeping lower, which is a sign that rental rates will grow.

Nine metropolitan areas in Canada fall between a vacancy rate of 2.5% and 1.0%:

Barrie, ON – 2.2%

Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, ON- 2.2%

St. Catharines-Niagara, ON – 2.2%

London, ON – 2.1%

Brantford, ON – 2.1%

Oshawa, ON – 1.7%

Toronto, ON – 1.3%

Guelph, ON – 1.0%

Peterborough, ON – 1.0%

These rates are low and indicate that it is a difficult market to enter into. There are too few units, for too many people, and even those who can find units will be paying a high rate.

Four metropolitan areas in Canada fall under 0.9%, which is dangerously low and an incredibly difficult market for any renter to be in. All four are located in British Columbia:

Vancouver, BC – 0.7%

Kelowna, BC – 0.6%

Victoria, BC – 0.5%

Abbotsford-Mission, BC – 0.5%

These rates are unstable and mean that renters are faced with paying exorbitant fees for very little in return.

Seven metropolitan areas in Canada fall between 3.5% and 6.0% vacancy rate:

Hamilton, ON – 3.8%

Montréal, QC – 3.9%

Québec City, QC – 4.9%

Thunder Bay, ON – 5.0%

Greater Sudbury Area, ON – 5.3%

Regina, SK – 5.5%

Moncton, NB – 6.0%

Nine metropolitan areas in Canada fall between 6.1% vacancy rate and 15% vacancy rate:

Trois-Rivières, QC – 6.2%

Gatineau, QC – 6.3%

Sherbrooke, QC – 6.4%

Saguenay, QC – 7.0%

Calgary, AB – 7.0%

Edmonton, AB – 7.1%

St. John’s, NL – 7.9%

Saint John, NB – 8.5%

Saskatoon, SK – 10.3%

These sixteen metropolitan areas are very easy to find a rental unit in, but having a very high rental vacancy rate can indicate negative things about an area, including job opportunities, that must be taken into consideration.

Winnipeg has a very stable vacancy rate. It is low enough that it indicates the city is doing well, with job opportunities and cultural significance, while also high enough that renters will be able to find somewhere to live at a reasonable rate. Winnipeg is thankfully average in comparison to many other metropolitan areas across Canada.