Students scrambling for apartments as Halifax vacancy rate hits all-time low
With university classes set to resume, it's almost time for the busiest move-in weekend of the year in Halifax.
But students hoping to find a last-minute rental might be out of the luck as rental vacancy rates are at a historic low throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality.
"Right now, it's currently 1.6 per cent and it's the lowest it's ever been," said Kelvin Ndoro, a senior analyst with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CHMC).
That's the overall rate, but areas on the peninsula, such as Halifax's South End -- which is home to two major universities -- has a vacancy rate of about one per cent.
Students say finding a place to live nearby isn't an easy task. Some have resorted to looking for an apartment nearly a year in advance.
Industry experts say the municipality's vacancy rate was typically between three to five per cent, but there are several factors influencing the current high demand.
"Our city is under some pretty significant growth," said Jeremy Jackson of the Investment Property Owners Association of Nova Scotia. "We've had lots of new Canadians in the last few years, around 12,000 over the last couple years. We've had folks coming back to Nova Scotia from elsewhere across the country, that's about 2,500 a year for the last couple years."
Experts say the cost to rent throughout the municipality varies.
CMHC says the average one-bedroom apartment costs around $900 per month, but if you're in downtown Halifax, that one-bedroom unit could be around $1,500 a month.
That's a big difference in price for students and people who are on a budget.
"One thing we have to be wary of is affordability and we at CMHC have been trying to work a lot with builders and developers to work on affordability issues," said Ndoro.
For now, though, Ndoro is encouraging people looking to rent to do their due diligence well in advance.
He doesn't anticipate a change in vacancy rates for the foreseeable future.
Experts in the industry say there are currently more than 3,600 rental units under construction in HRM, but they say they're not sure that's enough to keep up with such a high demand.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau.