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What a difference location can make in terms of rents.

Look no further than the January 2019 rent report from rental-listing website Rentals.ca.

According to the report, one bedroom apartments in Montreal are going for $1,081, down 16 percent from a year ago; meantime, the average rent per square foot in Toronto’s Entertainment District was an eye-popping $7 per square foot.

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These strikingly disparate numbers might not be what they seem, though, suggests Ben Myers, the report’s author and president of Bullpen Consulting, which advises real estate developers.

In the case of Montreal, it may just be a matter of the types of listings that were included. Myers has made an effort to remove furnished and short-term rentals from the data. But with roughly 10,000 listings to pore over, it’s possible some of those squeaked through in previous months, inflating the older data. It’s also possible a number of listings from a large landlord with property on the outskirts of the city were added.

For the off-the-charts rents in the Entertainment District, Myers has another explanation. “It was recently reported that a significant number of units, specifically this high-tourist area, are being listed on Airbnb, reducing the potential stock of rental units and putting further upward pressure on rental rates,” he writes in the report.

On a national level, renting got more expensive for prospective tenants this month, though as expected, prices varied considerably from market to market. Landlords across Canada were asking an average of $1,776 per month in rent for properties on Rentals.ca in January, up 1.3 percent from December 2018.

Toronto remained the most expensive market for renters this month, though rents didn’t move from the previous month. The one-bedroom average was $2,135, while the two-bedroom was $2,577.

Two-bedroom asking rents in Vancouver weren’t far off at $2,541, representing a 1-percent decline compared to a month prior. At the same time, the one-bedroom rent in Vancouver sunk 8 percent to $1,768.

The cheapest one-bedroom rents were in Fort St. John, BC, where they averaged $771. Quebec City offered renters the lowest average for two-bedroom apartments $955, up 3 percent month-over-month.

While Calgary’s ownership housing market has been battered by lower oil prices and the ensuing job losses that came as a result, the outlook is brighter for the city’s rental market.

One-bedroom rents were listed for $1,270, a month-over-month increase of 4 percent, although two-bedroom rents dipped 2 percent to $1,448.

“A pick-up in international immigration, and stronger household formation is expected to boost demand for rental accomodation, as a flat ownership housing market has not created a sense of urgency to buy among younger residents,” notes Myers. “The mortgage stress test has also reduced mortgage credit availability for would-be, first-time buyers.”

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