Charlottetown apartment dwellers can expect higher rents

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Charlottetown apartment dwellers can expect higher rents

If you're looking for an apartment in Charlottetown, your options may be limited, but it's a good time to be a landlord in the P.E.I. capital.

After peaking at 8.8 per cent in 2013, vacancy rates for apartments in the city are on the way down. They fell to 5.9 per cent in 2014. Numbers are not out yet for 2015, but some of the city's major apartment owners say they have little or no space open.

"Today, middle of September 2015, we have a zero per cent vacancy rate in both our student housing, and non-student housing apartment rentals," Jason Pitre, owner of PEI Apartments.

"We're 100 per cent full."

In 2013, Pitre was trying to attract renters by giving away iPads for a signed lease.

Killam Properties, which owns about 1,000 apartments on the Island, has seen a similar trend. Director of property management Dan Sampson has seen vacancy rates in Killam Properties buildings fall from 10 per cent a few years ago to below two per cent.

Sampson said the trend has been similar in all markets: student buildings, seniors' buildings, and higher end buildings aimed at working professionals.

Fewer new apartments

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation analyst Sarena Teakles said apartment construction has slowed on the Island.

Teakles said a few years ago developers got over excited by the influx of immigrants to Charlottetown and built too many apartments, sending the vacancy rate up.

"Builders took that as a signal that there was too much supply on the market," she said.

"As a result new home construction of new rental units has declined over the past two years."

Pitre said with vacancy rates low he was holding the line on rental rates. Now, with all his apartments full, he will be looking to increase his rents whatever the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission will allow.

See a chart of vacancy rates here.