The 2020 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation rental report showed Victoria rental vacancies have slightly increased, but prices continue to climb despite the pandemic.
The report showed that Victoria’s purpose-built rental apartment vacancy rate increased from 1 per cent in 2019, up to 2.2 per cent in 2020. It’s the first time that Victoria has been above 2 per cent since 2013, however, the city still falls below the national average of 3.2 per cent.
Senior Analyst, Pershing Sun, conducted the report for Victoria and says the pandemic played a significant role in the increased rental vacancies.
“The border closure and travel restrictions interrupted migration, and migration is actually the driver for growth in the Capital Region for many, many years before the pandemic.”
Sun also pointed out a lack of students, who usually occupy hundreds of rental accommodations near the University of Victoria Campus, contributing to the vacancies as well as a reeling economy.
“The job market was quite bleak last year, especially for younger people who are usually renters and often work in the food and accommodation sector which were the hardest hit,” Said Sun.
While rental vacancies opened up slightly, affordability has once again increased.
The average apartment rental cost increased by 3.3 per cent – up to $1275 – faster than inflation and the provincially allowable rent increase resulted in a $356 premium of asking rent for vacant units compared to rent for occupied units.
For younger renters like Emily Talbot, who currently squeezes’ into a one-bedroom apartment with a roommate, it makes the prospects of one day getting into a two-bedroom place seem farfetched.
“Finding a place that’s under 1700 for a two-bedroom is pretty much unheard of, if you’re looking at the fancy condos they’re building downtown you’re looking at at least 2k for a two-bedroom, 2k a month in rent and you’re spending more than 40% of your income,” Talbot said.
The increase in rent prices and rough job market could make the pandemic recovery even tougher.
“As rent continues to grow and outpace income growth, it is certainly becoming more and more challenging for households to find affordable rental options,” said Sun.
You can find more details on the report’s findings online here.