Halifax rental housing availability veering towards historic lows

Inbound migration is fuelling much of the demand

Halifax rental housing availability veering towards historic lows

A major challenge in Halifax at present is the extremely tight availability in the rental segment, with vacancy at just 1% according to latest figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“I’ve never seen it this low and most people haven’t,” United Way Halifax manager of partnerships and community development Kevin Hooper told CTV News. “These are historically low numbers, and they’re dire.”

“The vacancy rate is actually quite significantly lower for people looking for affordable housing – almost half a percent,” Hooper added. “For those people, trying to find an apartment is hard enough at the best of times.”

A significant driver of the trend is sustained inbound migration, Investment Property Owners Association executive director Kevin Russell stated.

“That’s the result of newcomers coming to Canada, to Nova Scotia specifically. It’s also the increase in international students going to the universities,” he explained, but also noted that “there’s actually a lot of native Haligonians returning home, who went away from careers, and they’re now returning because they see lots of opportunities here to pursue a career or to start a new business.”

Data from the Canadian Real Estate Association earlier this year showed that the sales-to-new-listing ratio (SNLR) grew steadily over the last year, with the largest increases posted by Eastern Canada.

Sustained market health and activity pushed Halifax towards the upper echelons of the strongest ratios. The city’s SNLR in Halifax topped at 77.6% in November 2019, representing a 12.8% year-over-year gain.