Rental vacancy high

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author: kristian ferguson |  news editor 

Money down the drain / jeremy davis

Supply is high, but prices don’t fall 

A report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. highlights a rise in Regina’s rental vacancy rate, up to 7.7 per cent as of Oct. 2018. 

This is well above the ideal vacancy rate which is closer to four per cent. With the rental market being flush in Regina, why hasn’t rent gone down? Adversely, according to a report by rentals.ca, rent prices are expected to rise in Saskatoon by two per cent. It isn’t unreasonable to expect that Regina could see a similar rise. 

Generally, the rental situation for Regina is relatively unhealthy, especially for students. According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, the wealth bracket that most represents students (assuming that they are working at minimum wage with full time hours) is the bracket averaging around $28,000 yearly and states that for a one bedroom apartment, it is expected that this person will spend around 35 per cent of their total income on rent and utilities.  

If, however, like many students you cannot work full time and are forced to work part-time, you would fall into the bottom wealth category. In this scenario, with an average income of roughly $15,000, you would be looking at spending almost 89 per cent of your income on rent. This means either you struggle to eat and are reliant on services like the food bank, or have a more cost-effective living situation such as living at home or with multiple roommates. 

The general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t be spending more than 30 per cent of your income on rent at maximum. The Canadian Rental Housing Index states that 42 per cent of Saskatchewan renters are spending more than that 30 per cent rule. In addition, 16 per cent of renters are spending over 50 per cent of their income on rent. 

This is not an uncommon phenomenon, however. Saskatchewan’s stats line up fairly neatly with the Canadian average. In order for Saskatchewan renters in the $28,000 bracket to afford rent, they would need to make 14 per cent more on average, annually, to afford rent. 

This raises concerns and issues with the current state of renting for students and other lower-income people in Saskatchewan. With Saskatchewan having one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada, it further strains students who may already be struggling with building student loan debt and rising costs of living. 

While there have been pushes for a higher minimum wage in Saskatchewan, it does not appear at this time that the Sask. Party government is willing to engage those discussions. 

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