New survey suggests affordability remains top of mind for Kingston renters

Tara Kainer (left) with Just Recovery Kingston speaks about a recent survey collecting the shared experiences of local renters. Talha Hashmani / Global News

A survey conducted by a local organization in Kingston, Ont., sought to capture the experiences of renters in the local market.

The Tenant Experiences Survey took data from 462 respondents and outlined concerns tenants in the local rental market face: from rent increases to low vacancy rates, high eviction rates and a general feeling of unaffordability in the market. The survey was conducted last September, with work from members of Just Recovery Kingston.

According to the survey, the average rent in the city ranges from $853 for a bachelor apartment to $1,974 for a place with four or more bedrooms. Of the tenants who have moved in the past year, 55 per cent reported that their rent was unaffordable.

The survey also notes that new tenants are paying at least 50 per cent more on rent on average than those in occupied units.

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Dylyn Reid-Davies, a member of the Affordable Housing Policy Working Group and part of Just Recovery Kingston, said the goal of the survey was to get information out there about the lived experiences of tenants in the local market.

“In Kingston, as many people have noted, there is a growing housing crisis. People are struggling with affordability (and) accessibility,” Reid-Davies said. “One thing that we noticed was there was an absence of data from tenants about their experiences living in Kingston.”

The survey also highlights data on how the length of a tenancy affects the rent someone has to pay — the lower the tenancy, the higher the rent. The survey suggests this is a result of factors like vacancy decontrol — if a unit is not occupied then the rent can be set at any price.

“One thing you learn when you’re a tenant is you stay where you are. Don’t move because the minute you move, your rent is going to go up. In some cases, you get forced out and then you’re forced to pay higher rent,” said Tara Kainer, a tenant and a member of Just Recover Kingston. “Especially in the last ten years, rent has climbed exponentially. Long-term tenants are being squeezed out. I myself have been evicted for the last two tenancies. I had a renoviction in the first case and an N12 – when a landlord claims he needs the unit for a family member – the second time.”

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Aside from affordability, the survey results suggest renters have concerns related to repairs and the possibility of eviction. About 89 per cent of respondents said they had at least one issue relating to repair or maintenance work in their unit or building. Thirty per cent of the cases involved mould and 23 per cent involved cockroaches or other bugs.

Kingston’s eviction rate sits higher than the national average, according to the survey. About 26 per cent of tenants have been evicted or threatened with eviction.

“It shows that tenants want to articulate their experiences. They want people to know what they’re going through and what their situations are,” Kainer said.

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