Current vacancy rates in Winnipeg are consistently among the lowest in the country. In fact, in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s 2010 Fall Market Rental Survey, Winnipeg’s vacancy rate dropped from one per cent to 0.8 per cent, making it the lowest it has been since CMHC began its rental vacancy surveys in 1990.
Moreover, Winnipeg’s below one-per-cent rate makes it the lowest among the other 34 Canadian cities surveyed.
In the period from 2001 to present, Winnipeg has seen vacancy rates consistently below two per cent, with most annual rates coming in under 1.5 per cent. The exception is Transcona, where the vacancy rate now stands at zero.
It’s a problem not unique to Winnipeg. Thompson’s vacancy rate is a mere 0.3 per cent, Brandon’s is 0.5 per cent and Steinbach’s rate is 0.6 per cent.
In effect, a “no vacancy” sign has been hung up across an entire city as well as many communities across the province.
With these exceptionally low vacancy rates in Manitoba cities, it should come as no surprise that Manitoba’s overall vacancy rate fell from 1.1 per cent to 0.9 per cent, which makes it the lowest rate among all provinces.
The lack of rental supply is reflected in both Winnipeg’s current (consistently low) vacancy rate of 0.8 per cent as well as in low numbers of rental housing starts.
While we recognize and understand the city is not in a financial position to be a primary housing provider, it can certainly be fully engaged in a supportive and collaborative role through identifying local housing needs and opportunities. It should also do more to empower its housing and planning staff to get more active in applying the tools (e.g. zoning, infill tax credits, permitting process) it has under its control.
The proposed change to the Income Tax Act, regarding active versus passive investors, is arbitrary and unneccessarily punitive, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association.
Currently, investors employing five or more employees are deemed to be active investors and enjoy tax relief that is not available to those with fewer than five employees, who are deemed to be passive investors.
Note: This five-employee rule does not only apply to real estate investment.
CREA is asking the federal government to recognize the important role of small investors, who are the backbone of small business and whose investments offer affordable rental accommodation.
Adding the transactions of small investors will not be burdensome or complex for government, because the tax system already tracks the transactions of large-scale investors who qualify for the tax deferral.