Rental vacancy rates jump for second straight year

Canadian landlords urged to 'be nice to their tenants'

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For tenants the news is welcome but for landlords the latest residential vacancy rates for Canada could spell the end of a bull market. Vacancy rates in some Canadian cities have nearly doubled in the past year and analysts say they are actually much higher than the official numbers suggest. The average rental apartment vacancy rate in Canada's 28 metropolitan areas rose to 2.2 percent in October 2003 from 1.7 percent a year ago, according to the Rental Market Survey released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. This marked the second consecutive annual increase in the vacancy rate. "The rise in the vacancy rate over the past year reflects a number of factors," said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC's Market Analysis Centre in Ottawa. "Foremost among these are low mortgage rates, which reduced mortgage carrying costs and lessened demand for rental housing by bringing home ownership within the reach of many renter households. Vacancy rates also rose because rental apartment compl...