Kingston’s vacancy rate increases to 1.9 per cent - Kingston’s vacancy rate increases to 1.9 per cent

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null Kingston’s vacancy rate increases to 1.9 per cent

January 16, 2020 -

Kingston’s vacancy rate has more than tripled – increasing from a record-low 0.6 per cent  to 1.9 per cent, as reported yesterday by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This increase reflects an increasing housing supply, but also indicates there is still work to be done to achieve a healthy 3 per cent vacancy rate.

“There is no question that we are pleased with an increased vacancy rate. Generating more housing options of all kinds has, and continues to be, a top priority for Council and staff. I think this vacancy rate increase reflects this,” says Mayor Bryan Paterson.

What This Means

Kingston’s current vacancy rate reflects the percentage of purpose-built rental housing units available in our housing market at a point in time. A vacancy rate of 3 per cent is considered healthy. Over the past 10 years, Kingston’s vacancy rate has averaged 1.7 per cent. Kingston’s reported 1.9 per cent vacancy rate is slightly below the provincial average of 2 per cent.

Highlight commentary from the 2019 Rental Market Report for the Kingston Census Metropolitan Area includes:

  • “New rental supply exerted an upward pressure on vacancy rate. The number of vacant units more than tripled compared to 2018.”
  • “This year’s increase in vacancy rate was due to robust growth in rental supply, providing renters with more choice.”
  • “The average fixed sample rent for all bedroom types in Kingston CMA increased by 7.9 per cent between 2018 and 2019, which is significantly above the 2019 Ontario rent guideline of 1.8 per cent.

It is important to note that only multi-residential buildings with three or more units are counted in CMHC’s primary vacancy rate calculations so that certain rented dwellings, considered part of a secondary rental market, do not figure into the vacancy rate. The secondary rental market includes dwellings such as duplexes, houses, condos, one or two apartments attached to commercial space and secondary suites.

Increasing Momentum

New rental building projects under construction

City building permit data indicates that there are now 973 residential units under construction through permits issued in 2019. This number reflects all housing types, with 639 of those permits being for multiple unit dwellings specifically. Many of these are expected to be completed in 2020 so that, starting in late 2020 and into 2021, there will be a greater number of new units to further increase the rental market supply.

In addition to the units currently under review by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, there are a number of multi-residential projects that have received Council approval that have not translated into building permit activities. Timing for building permit applications is led by the developer of a project and the City has no control over the timing of building permit applications. 

Housing initiatives to increase overall housing supply

The Mayor’s Task Force on Housing will present a report to Council in March that will contain a set of recommendations to increase housing supply. Although some of these recommendations will include secondary rental market units, the overall range of recommendations could greatly influence the development of housing units.

Kingston is at the midpoint of the 10-Year Municipal Housing and Homelessness Plan and has updated the plan to reflect Kingston’s current housing context and challenges. The updated plan has been submitted to the Province and will be presented to Council this spring for final approval and implementation.