Average rent in Calgary climbs by 1.7% as population, labour force grow

There's good news for Calgary landlords but not so much for renters — the average cost of rent is increasing in the city, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The Crown corporation does research relating to the housing market and offers advice. For this report, CMHC collected data in the fall based on numbers for the primary rental market (rental apartments) and the secondary market (condos for rent by owners).

The average rent in Calgary was $1,181 in October. That's up by 1.7 per cent compared to the year before.

Heather Bowyer, senior analyst with CMHC, says the increase is related to a stronger labour force, a growing population and new rental units coming on to the market, which tend to demand higher rent.

"We're seeing positive levels of inter-provincial migration as well as positive levels of international migration coming into the area," Bowyer said.

There were 668 new purpose-built rental units added to the market in the second quarter of 2019 alone, according to UrbanAnalytics.ca.

Employment gains

The CMHC report says throughout the first 10 months of 2019, 34,170 jobs were added compared to the same period the year before. The majority of those jobs — over 80 per cent — were full-time positions.

Within the same time period, the employable population between 15 and 24 years old increased by 8.2 per cent. That meant there were more people within the age bracket typically associated with renter households.

The vacancy rate in 2019 was 3.9 per cent, unchanged from 2018.

The number of condominiums for rent on the secondary market also increased by 37.6 per cent compared to the year before.

"These are all indicators of strong rental demand for Calgary," Bowyer said.

Rent still not as high as previous years

While rent is on the rise, it still isn't as high as it was during the last boom times in Calgary.

Back in 2014 and 2015, the average rent was $1,219. Then in 2016, while the economy slumped, average rent dropped by 7.3 per cent to $1,150 — not much lower than the $1,181 average rent now.

Over the next year or so, Bowyer said Calgarians can expect to see more moderate increases in average rent as the economy continues to recover.