Fewer vacant rental units with higher average rent in Windsor and London

Windsor and London are seeing historically low vacancy rates compared with rising average rent.

Even though vacancy rates have gone up slightly, they are still at a historic low

Both Windsor and London are seeing historically low vacancy rates coupled with rising average rent. (David Donnelly/CBC)

If you're feeling squeezed on the rental market in southwestern Ontario, there are numbers to back up that feeling.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) released its annual Rental Market Survey for major Canadian cities Wednesday. Nationally, the vacancy rate for rental units is 2.4 per cent, down from 3 per cent in 2017.

In Windsor, the overall vacancy rate has increased slightly to 3.0 per cent, compared to last year's 2.4 per cent — but it's coupled with strong growth in the average cost of rent. 

CMHC senior analyst Andrew Scott said the rent growth is at its "strongest it's been in quite some time."

Scott said the vacancy rate is still considered low in the city, and the situation is the same in London, where the vacancy rate of 2.1 per cent is one of the lowest since 2009.

"I think what's going on in Windsor is just that because the economy is doing so well, it's creating a lot of jobs for everybody," said Scott. "So there's a lot of household formation that's taking place, and that's impacting ownership and rental at the same time."

Property values continue to be affordable in Windsor, said Scott.

The vacancy rate for rental units in Windsor is still much lower than it was a decade ago. (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

Units going fast

Low vacancy numbers with increasing rent growth means the demand for units are high, but there aren't a lot of them available.

"It used to be where we would sit on a unit for one to two months, where now, they're renting within one to two weeks," said Paul Rouillard, licensed realtor at Rent4All, a property management company.

The CMHC reports for Windsor and London also mention downward movement in the turnover rate, which means people are staying in their units for longer. Scott said it could be attributed to the fact that rent has been going up fast.

"It could also be an indication that some renters are having trouble getting into the ownership market as well," he said.

In London the vacancy rate for rental units is low, compared to 2009 when 5 per cent was high for the city. (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)

The average rent in Windsor is $818, which represents a 4.5 per cent increase compared to 2017. In London, the average rent is $995, which is a 4.4 per cent increase.

According to Rouillard, some landlords across the city are seeing the high demand as a reason to not do as much upkeep on units.

"Now, landlords don't have to do the work they once had to do to find a good tenant, just because there's not much out there for tenants," he said.

However, he recommends that landlords keep up with the maintenance anyway — because the good times might not last forever.