Urban apartment vacancies dip

CMHC rental market survey draws parallel with Halifax’s 1.4% population spike


The Chronicle Herald – December 17, 2015 Edition

Apartment vacancies across Nova Scotia declined in 2015, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported Wednesday.

The private apartment vacancy rate in Nova Scotia’s urban centres dropped to 3.8 per cent in October from 4.1 per cent, as reported by CMHC in its survey last year.

In Halifax, the overall vacancy rate decreased to 3.4 per cent from 3.8 per cent in October 2014, according to the agency’s fall rental market survey.

‟The decrease realized in Halifax, however, was balanced by higher vacancies in Nova Scotia’s second- and third-largest urban centres, Cape Breton and Truro, where current vacancies sit at 4.2 per cent and 5.8 per cent, respect­ively,” the survey said.

Vacancies in urban centres across the province ranged from a low of 3.2 per cent in urban Kings County to a high of 14.9 per cent in Queens Regional Municipality.

The provincial vacancy rate for a two-bedroom unit was 4.2 per cent in October, down from 4.7 per cent last year, while the average rent was $992, according to the survey.

CMHC indicated the overall decline in Nova Scotia’s vacancy rate was significantly affected by the 0.4 per cent vacancy decrease recorded in the Halifax region, which accounts for 85 per cent of all Nova Scotia’s apartments.

The survey quotes a Statistics Canada labour force survey, which indicated Halifax’s population, age 15 and over, grew to 349,800 in October, which is a 1.4 per cent increase, or about 4,900 individuals, from population numbers recorded in October 2014.

‟This growth in Halifax’s population stemmed from an increase in both intra-provincial migrants and new Canadian immigrants occurring in late 2014 and continuing into 2015,” the authors of the survey wrote.

‟This rise in the population also helped to push total employment in Halifax, increasing by 0.7 per cent between October 2014 and October 2015.” The combination of population and employment growth, accord­ing to the survey, ‟helped to spur an increase in rental demand and the resulting decline in the vacancy rate for 2015.” Rising population figures in the Halifax area had a positive effect on Nova Scotia population figures, expanding by 0.4 per cent from October 2014 to October 2015.

The survey found demand for rental units in Nova Scotia was also affected by the aging population. As a result, some demand has shifted away from singlefamily housing and toward onefloor living accommodations, including rental units, the agency stated.

However, losses in employment levels continue to be felt in the youth population segment, aged 15 to 24. The lack of job creation for that population group ‟will ultimately create upward pressure on the vacancy rate or limit the potential for future supply growth,” the survey said.