CMHC — Increase in B.C.’s Vacancy Rates for Seniors’ Residences

This piece was originally written by the CMHC.

Vacancy rates for seniors’ housing have varied across Canada this year. Still, there are some regional trends and exceptions. An increase in seniors’ residences vacancy rates is seen in British Columbia, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)’s newly released Seniors’ Housing Reports. These reports provide descriptions and analysis of the seniors’ housing market in 7 regions, including British Columbia.

CMHC’s annual Seniors’ Housing Survey is conducted in February and March. The survey includes both private and non-profit residences and looks at two types of spaces: standard and non-standard. Standard spaces, also referred to as independent living, are those occupied by a resident paying market rent and who does not receive 1.5 or more hours of care per day. Residents living in a non-standard space receive at least 1.5 hours of high-level care per day. Examples of conditions that could require high-level care include Alzheimer’s, dementia and reduced mobility. Respite and non-market spaces are also non-standard.

Highlights for British Columbia (B.C.)

  • For the first time since 2012, the vacancy rate for independent living spaces increased, from 3% in 2018 to 4.2% in 2019. This increase is also recorded across all unit types. However, for heavy care spaces, the vacancy rate decreased from 2.1% in 2018 to 1.3% in 2019.
  • There is high demand for spaces with low rents (under $1,900 per month). The vacancy rate for these spaces is the lowest among all rent ranges. This is a shift from 2018, when the lowest vacancy rate was recorded for spaces with rents between $2,900 and $4,900.
  • There are 324 new living spaces added across B.C. in 2019, 40% of which are located on Vancouver Island / Central Coast. About half of B.C.’s 277 added residents are also located in that same region.
  • The average rent for independent living spaces increased by 5.4%, to $3,275, in 2019. Among all unit types, the highest rent increase is 22%, for bachelor/studio units.

Read the full report here.