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It's increasingly difficult to find rental housing across the country, as a lack of new inventory and a surge of would-be renters pushed the national vacancy rate lower.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said Thursday that the vacancy rate for Canada's rental stock was 2.5 per cent in April, 2011, compared to 2.9 per cent in 2010.

"Recent immigrants tend to rent first before becoming homeowners," said Bob Dugan, chief economist at CMHC. "Condominium completions moved lower in the past months, while rental apartment unit completions remained relatively stable. Overall demand for rental apartment units increased faster than supply for this type of housing."

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The cities with the lowest vacancy rates were Winnipeg and Regina (0.7 per cent), Quebec (1 per cent), Toronto (1.6 per cent) and Kingston (1.7 per cent).

The cities with the highest vacancy rates were Windsor (9.4 per cent), Kelowna and Abbotsford (6.6 per cent), and Charlottetown (4.9 per cent).

Rents also moved higher - the national average for a two-bedroom apartment was $864 in April, 2011, compared to $848 in April 2010.

The highest average rent was in Vancouver ($1,181), Toronto ($1,124), Ottawa ($1,056), Calgary ($1,040), Edmonton ($1,029) and Victoria ($1,024).

The lowest average rent could be found in Quebec - Saguenay ($542), Trois-Rivières ($546) and Sherbrooke ($577).

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