The vacancy rate at its lowest since 2004


The vacancy rate for dwellings in Quebec decreased from 3.4% in October 2017 to 2.3% in October 2018, according to CMHC, which has just released its rental market report. In some regions, these rates have not been reached since 2003.

The vacancy rate at its lowest since 2004

For the second year in a row, vacancy rates for the six census metropolitan areas (CMA) in Quebec declined significantly, despite the supply of rental properties seeing a general increase. They range from 1.2% (Gatineau CMA) to 5% (Saguenay CMA).

Therefore, the 2019 rental season promises to benefit owners, who will have less difficulty in renting their dwellings.

In addition, rent increased more quickly than last year, with an average increase of 2.2% compared to 1.9% in 2017. The average rent, which may include new units or those having left the rental market, is between $ 581 in Trois-Rivières and $ 813 in Quebec City. CORPIQ has calculated that the average rent in Quebec is 37% lower than the average of the other provinces.

Decrease in vacancy rate

All six CMAs recorded a decrease in the vacancy rate for 2018, but with different market variations. The Ottawa-Gatineau CMA lost 2.6 percentage points, from 3.8% to 1.2%, its lowest rate since 2003.

The Montréal CMA has lost 0.8 percentage points since 2017, reaching a vacancy rate of 1.9%, the lowest since 2004.

As of October 2018 and for all of Québec, 19,691 private initiative dwellings are considered vacant. This figure was at 28,509 in October 2017. Note, however, that buildings with two units or less up for rent are not surveyed in this case.

The reasons

Favorable economic conditions in 2018, as well as a buoyant labor market and immigration, boosted demand for rental housing, to the point that it more than compensated for the increase in supply. The aging of the population, with the growth in the number of households aged 75 and over, has also helped support the rental market. In fact, we are seeing more and more that, as they age, some homeowners sell and become tenants again.

Stability of turnover rate

This is the third year that CMHC has released this rotation rate data, which is the proportion of rental apartments that have changed tenants over the last twelve months.

Overall, this rate has remained stable in 2016, 2017 and 2018 with about one out of five dwellings having experienced a tenant change in the last year.

The turnover rate in Québec remained steady in 2018 at 18.6%, the same rate as in 2017.

At the CMA level, it ranges from 23% in Sherbrooke to 17.4% in Montreal.

The Ottawa-Gatineau, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières CMAs experienced a significant decline.

CORPIQ estimates that this rate of turnover may decrease in the coming years, given the fall in the vacancy rate. Indeed, in a market where it is more and more difficult to find a new home, tenants will have less of a tendency to go looking for a new apartment.

Average rents in Quebec up slightly

We observed that the average rent of 4 ½ (including new dwellings) in Quebec is up slightly, reaching $ 775 against $ 751 in 2017.

In this category, the lowest average rents among CMAs were recorded in Trois-Rivières with $ 601, Saguenay $ 608 and Sherbrooke $ 639.

Average rents increased by $ 27 in Montreal to $ 809, the largest increase in all CMAs.

Estimated variation in average rent

CMHC has also published, for Quebec as a whole, the estimated rate of variation which compares rents for the same dwellings. It stands at 2.2% compared to 2017.

In Quebec, the variation is 2.9%, the largest increase in the province. The Montréal CMA stands at 2.5%.

CORPIQ points out that these increases are significantly higher than inflation, which was 1.7%, but this is still without a doubt insufficient to renovate buildings and fill their maintenance deficit.

For specific data for each CMA, please refer to the table below. You can also click on the hyperlinks of each CMA to view CMHC's detailed report. Data from other cities, not included in the CMAs, are available in the CMHC report for all of Quebec.

CMHC Rental Market Report Data - October 2018

  Vacancy rate
Turnover rate
Average rent ($)*
Variation (%) in average rent**
  Oct. 17 Oct. 18 Oct. 17 Oct. 18 Oct. 17 Oct. 18 Oct. 17 Oct. 18
Gatineau (CMA) 3.8 1.2 22.4 21.5 782 794 2.2 3.5
Montréal (CMA) 2.8 1.9 17.3 17.4 782 809 2.1 2.8
Québec (CMA) 4.5 3.3 21.6 22.1 820 839 2.0 1.2
Saguenay (CMA) 6.8 5.0 21.1 21.5 605 608 ++ 1.7
Sherbrooke (CMA) 5.3 2.6 25.7 23.0 631 639 1.9 1.6

Trois-Rivières (CMA)

4.7 3.9 23.0 22.8 594


++ ++
Québec, 10 000 hab. and more 3.4 2.3 18.6 18.6 751 775 1.9 2.4

* 2 bedroom apartments (existing and new structures).
** 2 bedroom apartments from fixed sample (existing structures only).
++: Change in rent is not statistically significant. This means that the change in rent is not statistically different than zero (0).

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