Rental vacancy rates skyrocket in Saskatoon

March 10, 2017 - 7:10am
15 per cent of Saskatoon rental units are currently vacant.
JT Marshall/650 CKOM
15 per cent of Saskatoon rental units are currently vacant.

Saskatoon's vacancy rate is the highest it's been in two decades. 
Chanda Lockhart has been in the housing industry since 1999. Currently executive director of the Saskatchewan Landlord Association, she said she's never seen so many apartments available.
"We've had a lot of development that didn't sell and got put back into the rental market, which affects everyone."
Saskatoon's vacancy rate sits at 15 per cent. By comparison, Regina's rate sits at five per cent.
"There's nothing wrong with making a city bigger and better. But what we're wondering is: 'where are these people coming from?'" said Dax Murdoch, a property manager with Elite Properties. He said he's got around 20 per cent of his inventory sitting empty.
"When you overbuild in the city these situations happen."
Saskatoon rents have dropped anywhere from $200 to $500-a-month in the last year. Renters are also being offered perks.
"I've seen incentives like three months' free rent, low damage deposits, and even six months free cable," Lockhart said. 
Murdoch's buildings give $500 gift packs to get people in their buildings for a year or two.
"We feel these don't devalue the property and actually bring people out in the community," he said.
Murdoch also advises owners to drop their rents instead of leaving units empty.
"It's better to have someone paying something, rather than nothing," he said.
Lockhart expects the market won't get better for another 12 to 16 months.