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Apartment vacancies fall, rents rise in Fort St. John

City has highest vacancy rate among B.C. communities with more than 10,000 people
The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $772 in Fort St. John and $825 in Dawson Creek in 2022. (File)

Apartment vacancy rates in Fort St. John dropped to 10.6% last year, according to the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation.

Vacancies of all apartment types in the city fell by more than two percentage points from 12.7% in 2021, while average monthly rents were reported at $962 last year, up from $941, according to the CMHC's latest rental market report.

A two-bedroom apartment in the city cost families an average of $1,065 a month, up from $1,048, while a one-bedroom unit rented for an average $772, up from $747.

When it comes to townhouses, vacancy rates dropped from 8.6% to 5.4% year over year, with average monthly rents up from $1,026 to $1,114.

A two-bedroom townhouse rented for an average of $1,065 last year and a three-bedroom for $1,236.

The city saw its overall apartment inventory grow from 1,837 to 1,899 units last year, according to the report, while overall townhouse inventory decline from 490 to 444 units last year.

The CMHC report did not provide data on the city's rental condo market.

The rental survey is conducted annually in October and covers communities with more than 10,000 people.

Nationally, the CMHC says apartment rental supply increased by 55,000 units across the country last year. However, it says demand continued to outpace supply due to high immigration, the increasing costs of home ownership, and students returning to on-campus learning.

The national vacancy rate was at a near-historic low of 1.9%, the lowest it’s been since 2001, according to CMHC.

In B.C., vacancy rates averaged 1.3% in communities with more than 10,000 people last year, with Fort St. John home to the highest vacancy rate in the province followed by 7.2% in downtown Prince George, and Dawson Creek at 5.8%.

In Dawson Creek, apartment vacancies were down from 9.5% in 2021, and the average rent for a two-bedroom was reported at $1,027, and a one-bedroom at $825, according to the report.

Townhouse vacancies were reported at just 1.2%, with a three-bedroom renting for $1,279 a month, and a two-bedroom for $1,173.

“Lower vacancy rates and rising rents were a common theme across Canada in 2022," said CMHC chief economist Bob Dugan in a statement. "This caused affordability challenges for renters, especially those in the lower income ranges, with very few units in the market available in their price range."

"The current conditions reinforce the urgent need to accelerate housing supply and address supply gaps to improve housing affordability for Canadians," Dugan said.

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