COVID-19: Montreal’s housing vacancy rate jumps

COVID-19: Montreal’s housing vacancy rate jumps

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the vacancy rate for housing on the island of Montreal to jump from 1% to 6% between May and December, according to a survey by the Corporation of Real Estate Owners of Quebec (CORPIQ).

While this situation promises to give homeowners a job over the coming weeks, it does offer tenants more choices to settle in a unit that better meets their needs.

In the suburbs of the metropolis, vacancy rates are about four times lower. In comparison, it is in three regions far from Montreal that vacancy rates are highest outside the metropolis: they reach 3.3% in Chaudière-Appalaches, 3.1% in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and 2% in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, it was reported Wednesday.

“The pandemic and the economic crisis it is causing are affecting more particularly the rental of housing in Montreal,” said the director of public affairs of CORPIQ, Hans Brouillette, in a press release.

“People who work in the retail trade, in restaurants, in tourism and in the cultural sector experience more uncertainty for their jobs,” he continued. In addition, the student population and immigrants also represent a sharp drop in rental demand. In addition to these factors, there is the housing rented to tourists who return to increase the supply of the residential market, ”said Mr. Brouillette.

CORPIQ mentions the figures from the Administrative Housing Tribunal, which sets the rent increases each year. The average annual increase in rents in Quebec was 1.9% in 2019 and 1.2% the following year, which was a floor in 15 years.

“[Trente pour cent] of Montreal homeowners expect a more difficult relocation season this year, compared to 14% who believe it will be easier. Optimism is much less in Montreal than in Quebec as a whole, ”indicated Mr. Brouillette, stressing that owners will only be entitled in 2021 to a $ 1.92 increase in rent for each tranche of 1000. $ of work carried out in 2020, according to figures to be announced shortly by the Administrative Court of Housing.

“For decades, the Quebec government has watched the rental housing stock deteriorate due to underinvestment caused by an excessively restrictive method of setting rent. The fault does not lie with the Administrative Housing Tribunal. Its successive leaders over the decades have all tried to convince the government to modernize the fixing criteria, but no political formation in power has corrected this problem known to all. It remains to be seen what the CAQ government intends to do. The obsolescence of the rental stock is only getting worse. We have to act more quickly, ”said Mr. Brouillette.

The CORPIQ survey was conducted from December 14 to 22. Some 2,372 owners or managers totaling nearly 70,000 dwellings in Quebec responded, which equates to a margin of error of 2%, 19 times out of 20.

Housing vacancy rate in December 2020:

  • Montreal 6.0%
  • Chaudière-Appalaches 3.3%
  • Abitibi-Témiscamingue 3.1%
  • Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean 2.0%
  • Quebec 1.6%
  • Montérégie 1.4%
  • Laval 1.4%
  • Lanaudière 1.2%
  • Outaouais 0.9%
  • Laurentians 0.9%
  • Bas-Saint-Laurent 0.9%
  • Center-du-Quebec 0.8%
  • Estrie 0.8%
  • Mauricie 0.5%

Source: CORPIQ survey

Average basic rent increase reaches 0.8% in 2021

The basic average rent increase reaches 0.8% for an unheated unit in 2021, the Administrative Housing Tribunal (TAL) announced on Wednesday.

For a home at $ 800, under a fictitious calculation scenario, the average increase reaches $ 6 per month, but these calculations do not take into account, in particular, tax increases or major work that may have been carried out by the owner.

For heated dwellings, the average increase is 0.5% for units fitted with electric heaters. On the other hand, a reduction is possible for the rents heated by gas (-0.3%) and oil (-3.0%), which thus brings the example of a rent of $ 800 per month to 798 $ and $ 776, respectively.

Quebec tenants who will not come to an agreement with their owner have a right of refusal and their file can then be submitted to the TAL by the latter within one month of the occupant’s response.

Among the components of rent that are considered to set the rent, the TAL uses Statistics Canada figures for the year 2020, which were released on Wednesday. Components fell, such as electricity (-0.3%), gas (-11.3%) as well as fuel oil and other energy sources (-21.6%), but we are talking about growth for maintenance costs (+ 1.4%), for service costs (+ 1.9%), management costs (+ 1.2%), net income (0.6%) and expenses of immobilization (+ 2.3%). These applicable percentages, however, are not average estimates of increase, specifies the TAL.

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