The price of rental housing in Metro Vancouver continues to outpace rents across most areas of the country. And rents on the North Shore are among the highest in the region, despite recent increases in supply of rental housing, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp.
Renters are continuing to feel the squeeze because demand for rentals is still outstripping supply, according to CMHC’s latest Rental Market Report, which examines trends in rental housing across Canada.
Lower income renters in B.C. are particularly pinched, according to the report, with the share of rentals that are affordable for renters with the lowest incomes being in some cases “too low to report,” according to the report’s authors.
That’s despite the addition of 3,805 units of purpose-built rentals added to the market in B.C.’s major communities between mid-2021 and mid-2022 – one of the highest increases in rental units since 1990.
North Vancouver adds significant number of rentals
The City and District of North Vancouver were among four municipalities that contributed 87 per cent of the new purpose-built rentals in Metro Vancouver, according to the report.
That included 666 new purpose-built rental units in the City of North Vancouver and 446 rental units in the District of North Vancouver. West Vancouver also added 71 purpose-built rental units.
After decades of little rental construction across the country, in the last 10 years, municipalities have been working to encourage that, said Dan Milburn, general manager of planning, properties and permits for the District of North Vancouver.
More rentals are being approved, said Milburn, but construction of projects can take several years after they are approved. In the meantime, “There is still tremendous demand in our community. The demand exceeds the supply.”
(Some of the more recently occupied rental units occupied in the District of North Vancouver include106 units of social house at Kiwanis' Whitely Court building, 75 market units at Onni's Lloyd building on Churchill Avenue and 460 new market units in three developments in the Lions Gate town centre neighbourhood.)
There were also 249 units of secondary condo rentals – where a private owner rents out their unit – added to the rental supply on the North Shore between mid-2021 and mid-2022.
According to CMHC, overall vacancy rates for rental apartments in the City of North Vancouver and the District of West Vancouver are hovering around one per cent, while they are sitting slightly higher – at three per cent – in the District of North Vancouver.
North Shore rents among highest in Metro Vancouver
Rental rates are high on the North Shore – among the highest in Metro Vancouver.
In the City of North Vancouver, average rent for a one-bedroom purpose-built apartment is $1,643, while that same apartment is $1,886 in the District of North Vancouver and $1,922 in West Vancouver. That compares to an average of $1,543 in Metro Vancouver overall.
A two-bedroom apartment in the City of North Vancouver goes on average for $2,058, while a two-bedroom in the District of North Vancouver rents for $2,459 on average. In West Vancouver, rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $4,538. In Metro Vancouver as a whole, two-bedrooms go for $2,002, according to CMHC.
Overall in Metro Vancouver, rents increased 6.3 per cent over the past year, although on the North Shore that was higher – with average increases hovering around 12 per cent. Provincial rent controls govern how much rent can increase for an existing tenancy.
But when renters moved out and a new tenancy began, rents shot up dramatically, according to the housing report. Rents for two-bedroom units that turned over to new tenants went up an average of 24 per cent.
Affordability remains a huge challenge, according to the report, with less than a third of purpose-built rentals affordable to households earning under $55,000 and “only one in 200 units are affordable to rental households with the lowest 20 per cent of incomes.”
Immigration, return of students, high ownership costs fuel rental demand
Despite the increase in rental housing, high demand continues to put pressure on the market, said CMHC analyst Eric Bond, one of the report’s authors.
A surge in immigration to Metro Vancouver, a return of international students and high home ownership costs that have kept families in the rental market have all contributed to the squeeze.
That’s likely to continue, even as new rental apartments are built in the next several years and are added to the supply, said Bond.
Policies like the speculation and vacancy tax have helped add to the rental supply, by encouraging condo owners to rent out their apartments.
On the North Shore, there are about 4,272 private condos that are part of the rental market – about 21 per cent of the total.
Basement suites, suites in single-family homes and laneway houses aren’t included in the CMHC data.