September 12, 2017 9:20 pm

Rental construction is booming in Kelowna, where vacancy is 0.6 per cent

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Kelowna’s tight rental market may have some relief coming down the pike in the form of a construction boom.

“There’s a number of different buildings getting built and they are at different stages of the construction process,” community planning manager for the City of Kelowna Ryan Smith said.

“They are all over the community, it’s not one particular neighborhood, it’s many neighborhoods.”

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Kelowna has seen 1,366 rental unit starts this year, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

That’s more than in any eight-month period in the city’s history.

“The community has been on the planning department and council to do something about [the tight rental market],” Smith said. “And when those units start occupying in the next 18 months, we will actually see that come to fruition.”

The city’s rental vacancy rate has been sitting below one per cent for two years now — it sat at 0.6 per cent by the CMHC’s last count.

It’s even lower for two-bedroom units (0.5 per cent) while the vacancy rate for bachelor or three-bedroom suites is zero.

That has made it challenging to find an apartment.

“It is really hard finding something,” Myriam Jungling, who is trying to find a one-bedroom apartment, told Global News.

“You have 10, 20 people, you have one in 10 or 20, who knows how many, shots of getting it,” she added.

The city’s rental construction starts represent a “large number” in a place of Kelowna’s size, Smith said.

“I think it will make a big difference,” he said. “We are a medium-sized city, we are not a small city anymore but certainly I think it will bring the vacancy rate up, I don’t know by how much, it’ll make it a little easier.”

The units will take 12 to 18 months to come online because they’re “just starts at this point,” said Cal Warren, a property manager with Re/Max Management Solutions. “Then following that we may see a bit of an ease up in the amounts of rentals or even the prices that are creeping up lately.”

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