Toronto is by far the priciest major urban centre in Canada when it comes to condo apartment rents, a new survey by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) shows.
The average rent for a two-bedroom condo unit in the city is a whopping $2,300. That’s over $400 what renters pay for an equivalent apartment in Vancouver, the second-most expensive city, where the average two-bedroom rate is over $1,870. Ottawa comes in at No. 3, with an average rent of nearly $1,570.
The cheapest two-bedroom condo rentals are in London, Ont. ($996), Quebec City ($1,050) and the Quebec-side of the Ottawa-Gatineau metropolitan area ($1,060).
Vancouver tops the national ranking in terms of the average rents in purpose-built rental buildings, which tend to be older than condominiums and offer fewer amenities, thereby commanding lower rents. The average rate for the cheaper kind of two-bedroom apartment was around $1,550 in Vancouver, $1,400 in Toronto and $1,250 in Calgary, according to CMHC data collected in a separate and broader national survey.
At the other end of that spectrum are three Quebec communities: Trois-Rivieres ($594), Saguenay ($605), and Sherbrooke ($631).
Nationally, the average rent for a two-bedroom unit in a purpose-built rental building is $989. That was up 2.7 per cent since October 2016 and far ahead of inflation, which rose 1.4 per cent during the period.
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The largest increases happened in British Columbia, led by Kelowna (8.6 per cent), Victoria (8.1 per cent) and Vancouver (6.2 per cent). Ontario wasn’t far behind, with rents soaring in the Greater Golden Horseshoe region around Toronto. In that region, the strongest rent growth was registered in Belleville (5.9 per cent), Oshawa (5.2 per cent), Hamilton (5.1 per cent), Barrie (4.6 per cent) and Toronto (4.2 per cent).
But Canadians aren’t just facing climbing rents. Finding a place to stay in the first place seems to be getting increasingly challenging. Nationally, the rental vacancy for purpose-built rental units decreased from 3.7 per cent to 3 per cent over the last year, reversing cumulative increases seen in 2016 and 2015, the CMHC said.
Most provinces saw an increase in rental demand, which was driven by high immigration, a strong labour market, and Canada’s aging population, according to the report. Immigrants tend to rent during the first few years after their arrival to Canada as they seek a firmer financial footing in the country before purchasing a home, the CMHC said. But the lower rental vacancy rates were also a reflection of a healthy economy, which put more 15 to 29-year-olds to work, usually in full-time jobs. Adding to those are downsizing seniors, with the rental demand from Canadians 65 and over on an upward trajectory.
If you’re trying to rent in a condo apartment, be prepared for an even harder search. The vacancy rate for condo units in the 17 major urban centres tracked by CMHC was roughly less than half that for purpose-built rentals, at 1.6 per cent in late 2017. That was a decrease from an already low rate of 1.9 per cent in 2016. The vacancy rate was virtually 0 in Victoria, B.C. (0.2 per cent) and only marginally higher in Toronto (0.7 per cent).
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Western Canada makes for a radically different picture, with high vacancy rates placing downward pressure on rents both in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Rates for purpose-built rentals dipped 1 per cent in Calgary and 1.3 per cent in Saskatoon. Even here, though, the tide seems to be turning, with greater demand for rentals slowing the pace of rent declines considerably. For comparison, rents in Calgary were down 7.5 per cent in October 2016 from the previous year.
Here’s how average rents for a two-bedroom apartment compare in condominiums and purpose-built rental buildings in Canada’s major cities:
|Centre||Avg. rent for a 2-bedroom unit|
|Condo apartments||Purpose-built rentals|
|Ottawa-Gatineau (Que. part)||$1,061||$782|
|Ottawa-Gatineau (Ont. part)||$1,566||$1,232|