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Ottawa's rental market prompting line-ups for showings

Depending on who you ask, Ottawa’s rental market is red hot. Property managers and realtors are getting multiple offers on many rental units in this city. Folks are resorting to lining up in the hopes of winning a coveted apartment. A lot of this depends on where you're looking to rent and when. Availability is not bad in certain parts of this city but some owners tell us, they've never seen the rental market in Ottawa as hot as it is.

The line-up starts almost an hour before the showing is even to begin for three tiny apartments on MacLaren Street.

“Normally I like to do everyone individually,” broker Neil Newton tells the anxious crowd waiting outside the building, “but because of the demand, we're going to do this three at a time.”

Newton is blown away by the demand since he placed ads for these tiny bachelor units, renting for between $875 and $975.

“They are semi affordable,” he says, “I'm not going to say this is cheap because it ends up being $45 a square foot.  I wasn't expecting this,” he says of the demand, “It's through the roof, I’ve never seen it before.”

Evelyn Lilly sure has which is why she’s come early.  Apartment hunting has become her full-time job right now, especially during this “student” season.

“It's incredibly difficult,” she says, “you see a place you like and it's gone 20 seconds later.  The prices are continually being pushed higher.”

“It’s kinda crazy,” adds Ron Dumont, a 4th year University of Ottawa student from Sudbury, who is also hoping to land one of the apartments.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing, Ottawa’s vacancy rate for a one-bedroom is about one and a half percent. That’s based on last year's data.

According to a broker with Royal Lepage, a healthy market should have a minimum vacancy rate of between 3 and 5 percent.

The head of the Canadian Federation of Apartment Associations disputes the claims of a rental crisis in Ottawa.  A quick poll of corporate landlords, says John Dickie, shows plenty of availability.

“They are all reporting the market is good but they are not reporting the market is on fire the way the media is reporting it.”

Dickie says this is typical for the university rush as students try to find housing before the fall semester begins.

It all comes down, perhaps, to timing and location.  Despite the fact a 2-bedroom/two bathroom apartment is renting for $2300, would-be tenant Brandon says it's a good deal for Westboro.

“This is probably one of the biggest ones I’ve seen so far,” he says.

And so, demand is high, according to Melinda Signoretti with Concorde Properties, who is showing Brandon the apartment.

“I have about 10 emails a day for this unit,” she says, “This will rent in day or two, definitely.”

Back at MacLaren, international student Ronnie Safarov from Israel is shocked at the demand for the apartments and the line-up he encountered when he showed up this morning.  So he's wasting no time.

“Yeah, I will apply,” he says, paperwork in hand.

Those showing these apartments say what's key to landing one - is doing your paperwork before.  Get your rental application ahead of time so that you've got at least one foot in the door, at least metaphorically speaking.