When it comes to the rental market, Metro Vancouver continues to be at the top — or depending on how you look at the numbers, the bottom.
The annual rental report by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) was released Wednesday, showing data from October 2023 for all major cities in the country.
Once again, Metro Vancouver led Canada for the highest average two-bedroom rental price ($2,181) and the highest price for a newly rented two-bedroom unit ($2,601), and also had the lowest vacancy rate among the country's major cities (0.9 per cent).
Overall, rents for all buildings increased by an average of nine per cent over October 2022, while the vacancy rate remained the same.
"There was a really strong population growth in 2023, and you see in Vancouver, for example, that it kept everything really tight," said Braden Batch, a senior economist with the CMHC.
High across the province
While Metro Vancouver's numbers attract the most attention in the housing discussion, rents continued to be comparatively high in major population centres across British Columbia.
The third and fourth highest rents in the country were in the Victoria ($1,839) and Kelowna ($1,805) metro areas.
The average two-bedroom rents for Abbotsford ($1,483), Chilliwack ($1,430) and Nanaimo ($1,681) all rose higher than inflation in the year to October 2023.
The CMHC report focuses on the average for all rentals, meaning the majority of units counted are those that have been occupied by the same tenant for many years.
But they also measure the rental rates for apartment units being turned over — giving the $2,601 figure for Metro Vancouver.
'You can't move to the next place'
Batch said one of the more noteworthy changes in the statistics from October 2023 was the decline in the number of people who left their rental units.
The number of apartment units in Metro Vancouver with turnover sank from 11 per cent in 2022 to eight per cent in 2023 — one of the lowest numbers in the country, continuing a downward trend seen for many years.
"This feeling that people have that you can't move to the next place — it's not just an anecdote, it shows up in that data," said Batch, explaining that more people feel unable to move to a different rental or join the home ownership market compared to the past.
"The normal flow of people from rental to ownership is also sort of slowed up, and that's putting added pressure on the rental system."
While the CMHC report is not a forecast for future years, Batch expressed some optimism that the continued increase in supply, combined with plateauing home prices, would provide relief to the rental market — eventually.
"It might not be a silver lining, but the rental and inflation pressures are starting to ease," he said.
"It'll take a couple years before we see that work its way through the rental system and stabilize."