News / Edmonton

Edmonton's vacancy rate at its highest since 1996

High vacancies and dropping rents expected to continue next year, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

It's a renter's market in Edmonton.

Kevin Tuong / Metro

It's a renter's market in Edmonton.

A construction boom coupled with economic gloom has left Edmonton with its highest rental vacancy rate since 1996.

Edmonton's vacancy rate was at 7.1 per cent in October, up from 4.2 per cent a year ago, according to the latest rental market report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Alberta’s overall vacancy rate is slightly higher at 8.4 per cent.

“The larger contributing factor is we’ve really added a lot of rental apartments to our universe. We’ve had a lot of rental construction in Edmonton over the past few years, which has pushed the supply of rental accommodation higher,” said CMHC Edmonton market analyst Christina Butchart.

More than 2,700 rental units were added in the city over the last year.

While the news is not great for landlords and property owners, it’s a breath of fresh air for renters.

Rental prices are going down slightly after increasing for years – a trend Butchart expects will continue.

The average one-bedroom apartment is going for $1,000 this year, compared to $1,029 in 2015. For a two-bedroom, the average renter will pay $1,229 instead of $1,259.

Landlords have been offering incentives like a month of free rent to win an edge in the marketplace.

“They’re having a little bit more difficulty attracting and keeping tenants, so there’s more positive news for renters out there looking for a place. There’s a lot more selection than there was a couple of years ago,” Butchart said.

The report also notes 35.8 per cent of Edmonton’s rental properties saw a turnover of tenants in last 12 months.

Edmonton is not feeling the hit like some parts of the province, however.

Cold Lake has the highest vacancy rate in Alberta at 26.2 per cent, due to a glut of rental construction and loss of jobs.

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