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The Number of Vacant Apartments will continue to rise in 2008 in the Montreal Region

The Number of Vacant Apartments will continue to rise in 2008 in the Montreal Region

Following a poll done by the CMHC ( the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) in October of 2007, the vacancy rate for the region of Montreal was at 2,9 % , which is a slight increase over last year, but it should reach 3,3 % in 2008. Vacant apartments will thus be more numerous.

Landlord-members of the APQ, assembled at the Auberge Universelle in Montreal, have been able to listen to Mme Sandra Girard, principal market analyst of the CMHC, painting a picture of the regional rental market and offering comparisons with the other regions in Quebec.

The speaker made it clear that Montreal has the biggest rental real estate pool in Canada, with more than 1 million apartments, considering dwellings of 3 and more apartments as an acceptable criterion of inquiry.

If Montreal has known a slight increase of its vacancy rate, going from 2,7 % in 2006 to 2,9 % in 2007, the overall picture for Quebec has remained stable at the level of vacant apartments with a rate of 2,6%.

At the level of rental rate evolution the CMHC has introduced a new – more equitable - rule in 2006, by not considering new dwellings, among others, in its inquiry. Rental increases have been more modest in 2007 (2,3 %) compared to 2006 (2,9 %), for all categories of apartments. Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is 661 $ on the island of Montreal, 614 $ in Laval, 586 $ on the North Shore, and 625 $ on the South Shore.

At the level of construction of apartments, one notices that residences for elderly people represent half of the construction sites. The population is aging, tenants are also aging. Builders in this market segment have gotten the signal.

It is also interesting to notice that vacancy rates are always higher in the more expensive apartments segment. For rents 900 $ and up the vacancy rate is at 5,6 %. Rental and vacancy rates are also highest in dwellings containing 100 apartments and more. In those buildings average rent is 1 060 $ per month with a vacancy rate of 4,1 %.

Considering that the highest vacancy rates coincide with the most expensive rents, it will be easy to understand that the highest rates are noticed in the West of Montreal. Those sectors reach vacancy rates of almost 5 % in certain cases. When one comes back East, available and less expensive apartments are always rare.

The CMHC also takes the location of condominiums into consideration. Promoters cannot always sell all of their stock and thus put it up for rent. In 2007, the rented condo-park comprised 88 488 units, whereas in 2006 there were only 82 327 of them. Condo-rentals represent 9 % of the totality of apartments for rent in the CMA of Montreal. Vacancy rates of rented condos have increased, especially downtown where they reach 7,9 %, whereas these rates are lower for the greater Montreal region at 3,8%.

Landlords present at this meeting have also been able to listen to the president of the APQ, Me Martin A. Messier, and to Me Robert Soucy, legal counsel of the Association, giving information about renewal of the lease and about certain pitfalls to be avoided while renting. One should also mention that Me Soucy will be teaching a free course to the members of the APQ on rent setting and on how to prepare a hearing before the Régie du logement, coming February the 25th, at the Auberge Universelle, from 7 to 10 PM. Reservations are to be made at the APQ.

Légende de la photo: Sandra Girard, analyste principale de marché à la SCHL; Me Robert Soucy, conseiller juridique de l'APQ, et Me Martin Messier, président de l'APQ.

About the author

Berthold Lévesque

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