British Columbia

Kelowna rental vacancies low, but boom of new homes coming

Building permit approvals for residential projects up 40 percent, and planner hopes they will help with low vacancy rates — including the 0 percent rate for units with three or more bedrooms.

Planner says it could be several years before new projects help with low vacancy rate

A view of downtown Kelowna from the air. Building permit approvals for residential projects increased 40 per cent between 2014 from 2015. (gillicious/Flickr)

A report from City of Kelowna staff shows a boom in residential construction in the city, but it might be years before that boom impacts low vacancy rates for renters.

City planner Laura Bentley says approved building permits in 2015 increased 40 percent over 2014 numbers, and about 75 per cent of those permits were for multi-family buildings like condos, apartments or townhomes.

However, the overall rental vacancy rate sits at 0.7 percent, and the rate for three or more bedrooms is at 0 percent.

"We've certainly seen an increase in population, and in recent years we hadn't seen a lot of new supply coming in for rental housing," Bentley told Radio West guest host Josh Page.

Still, Bentley says the average cost of rent has remained relatively unchanged in the city at $890, compared to the provincial average rent of $1,042.

Home sales in the city increased 17 percent in 2015, and the average cost of a home rose 2.8 percent to $388,500 in 2015.

The construction approved in 2015 is expected to contribute 1,430 new units to the city, the report notes.

With files from CBC Radio One's Radio West

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Kelowna report shows 'highest number of housing starts in recent years'