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As some homebuyers in Metro Vancouver catch a break from declining property values, tenants are facing further rent increases.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)’s Rental Market Report for Metro Vancouver, the average rent in the region was $1,385 in October, up 6.2 percent from a year ago. Asking rents were higher at $1,578 a month.

Meantime, renters in Vancouver proper had to shell out a monthly average of $1,478. Those leasing condos in Metro Vancouver were paying an average of $1,855, an increase of $97 compared to last year.

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For the fourth straight year, average rents in Metro Vancouver climbed above the provincially mandated limit, CMHC says. By way of explanation, the national housing agency notes that although the BC Residential Tenancy Branch limited landlords to hike rent by 4 percent in 2018, there isn’t a hard ceiling for what they can charge when new tenants move in, pulling the average higher.

Metro Vancouver’s rock-bottom vacancy rate eased slightly to a still-low 1 percent. For condos it was a drum-tight 0.3 percent, as short-term rentals and investors selling condos after price run ups in recent years crunched long-term rental supply, CMHC speculates.

A low unemployment rate of 4.3 percent is one of the factors supporting demand for rental units in Metro Vancouver. Some would-be homebuyers might be renting for longer periods of time due to the high cost of owning a home in the Lower Mainland.

In what could be an encouraging sign for the rental market, CMHC says the supply of purpose-built rental apartments — that is, units built for the express purpose of renting out — is on the rise. There were roughly 5,500 rental units (in buildings with more than five residences) under construction throughout Metro Vancouver this October.

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