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According to the latest annual Seniors’ Housing Survey conducted by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the vacancy rate for standard spaces—spaces for persons requiring less than one and a half hours of medical care per day—changed little over the past year in the province of Quebec, having reached 8.4 per cent in February 2010, versus 7.9 per cent at the same time in 2009.

It was for rooms that conditions eased the most. In fact, the vacancy rate for units of this type attained 10.1 per cent this year, compared to 8.9 per cent in 2009. In the apartment segment, the vacancy rates remained relatively stable as, in 2010, they reached 8.5 per cent for bachelor apartments and 7 per cent in the case of apartments with one or more bedrooms.

“The current easing has been due to the fact that the supply of residential care units has been rising faster than demand. Over the past decade, Quebec saw its population aged 75 years or older grow. Construction largely met the increase in potential demand but, on account of the decline in births during the years of the Great Depression, the province has entered a period where the growth in the population aged 75 years or older is slowing down,” said Kevin Hughes, Senior Economist at CMHC.

Market conditions for heavy care spaces tightened over the past year, as their vacancy rate fell from 11.7 per cent in 2009 to 7.1 per cent in 2010. Heavy care spaces are spaces where the residents receive at least one and a half hours of medical care per day.

Overall, the vacancy rate showed an increase in 2010. However, residences are generating growing interest among seniors. In fact, the capture rate reached 17.8 per cent of the population aged 75 years or older in the province in 2010, up from 17.2 per cent last year.

The results varied significantly from one census metropolitan area (CMA) to another in Quebec. Like last year, the Saguenay area had the lowest vacancy rate for standard spaces (3.4 per cent) among the six CMAs in the province, and the Gatineau area was contending with the highest (21.3 per cent). The results registered in the Montréal, Québec and Sherbrooke areas were similar to the provincial average, while Trois-Rivières stood out with a vacancy rate of 5.1 per cent.

The province had a universe of close to 95,000 spaces, 40 per cent of which were room-andboard units. Standard spaces accounted for close to 94 per cent of the universe. The remainder was mainly composed of heavy care spaces (5 per cent).
In 2010, the average rent for standard spaces in retirement homes across Quebec reached around $1,400 per month. According to the survey results, rents rose with unit size. As well, rents were higher in the major centres. In fact, only the Gatineau, Montréal and Québec areas had rents for standard spaces above the provincial average. The difference can be explained by the greater number of recently built structures offering more services and amenities in major centres. Elsewhere, the rents were closer to the provincial average.

The vacancy rate was higher (10.8 per cent) for standard spaces in the upper rent range ($1,601 or more). The proportion of unoccupied units was also high (10.4 per cent) for spaces in the lower rent range (less than $901). In the other rent ranges, the vacancy rates varied between 7 per cent and 8 per cent.

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Québec Landlords Association (1)

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