Oil slump leads to more apartment vacancies in Alberta, Saskatchewan

Oil slump leads to more apartment vacancies in Alberta, Saskatchewan

It was a lot easier to rent an apartment in the oil-producing provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in April, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported Monday.

According to CMHC's spring rental market survey, the rental apartment vacancy rate in Alberta's urban centres almost doubled to 3.4 per cent, compared to 1.8 per cent in April 2014.

World oil prices have slumped by 40 per cent in the past year, leading to layoffs in the energy industry.

In Saskatchewan, the rental vacancy rate in the province's urban centres jumped to 5.6 per cent in April, up from 3.3 per cent in the same month a year earlier.

"Lower oil prices have slowed economic growth in Saskatchewan," said Goodson Mwale, a CMHC market analyst for Saskatchewan. "A reduction in capital investment expenditures in the oil and gas industry has also reduced employment growth and the inflows of migrants."

Regional differences

The weaker rental picture in Alberta and Saskatchewan stands in marked contrast to that in Ontario and British Columbia, where vacancy rates fell amid signs of stronger economic conditions.

"In Ontario, improving employment conditions for young adults aged 15 to 24, a key source of rental demand,
and a stable supply of rental units placed downward pressure on vacancy rates, while increased immigration to British Columbia, another key source of rental demand, more-than-offset an increase in the province's rental market supply," said CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan in a statement.

The survey found that the cities with the highest average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment were:

- Vancouver - $1,345.

- Calgary - $1,319.

- Toronto - $1,269.

The cities with the lowest average monthly rent for a two-bedroom flat were:

- Trois-Rivieres, Que. - $571.

- Saguenay, Que. - $583.

- Sherbrooke, Que. - $607.

Overall, CMHC says the national vacancy rate remained stable at 2.9 per cent in April.

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