Vacancy rates rising throughout Saskatoon

CBC News, September 17, 2015 -

With vacancy rates at an astounding forty per cent in some new Saskatoon apartment complexes, landlords are bending over backwards to attract new tenants.

The executive director of the Saskatchewan Landlord Association, Chanda Lockhart, said Saskatoon landlords are offering deals to those looking for an apartment.

"I have seen $300 off a month for a twelve month lease. Security deposits as low as $125. Move in today and don't pay for two months. Move in today, don't pay for month 13."

The reality of Saskatoon becoming a renter's market is echoed by David McIlveen. He is the Director of Community Development for Boardwalk Rental Communities, which owns several properties in the city.

"There have been at least 30 apartments that we've rented in the last couple of weeks that people have received $300 per month off of the monthly rental rate."

Lockhart notes that while the average vacancy rate in Saskatoon is 4.6 per cent, new apartment complexes and landlords who have recently renovated are seeing higher rates that could continue through the winter.

"As the month continues and as we get cooler, history dictates that vacancy, generally, whatever is happening October first is kind of how you're going to sit through the winter."

Lockhart said tenants should not expect the price of rent to fall because of high vacancy rates. Instead, landlords are choosing the incentive route to fill spaces.

Why the increase?

There are several reasons for the rise in apartment vacancies. Stable home prices and low interest rates are making home ownership an attractive option. Lockhart said the condominium market is also growing in Saskatoon, with developers offering large incentives to get people into new condos.

It all makes for a very competitive market that favours renters as opposed to landlords.

"It is a good time to be a renter," said Lockhart. "There's pockets of the city that definitely have a much high vacancy. If you're looking in Pleasant Hill, Riversdale, Saskatoon Central, there's definitely a high vacancy rate there. It's more around the eight to 12 per cent."

Both Lockhart and McIlveen said current tenants should feel comfortable approaching their landlords and to ask about the incentives being offered to new tenants.

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