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Toronto condo rent increases didn’t relent in the first quarter of the year, with the average for a two-bedroom unit closing in on $3,000 a month.

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB)’s Rental Market Report for Q1 2019, the average two-bedroom condo apartment rent in the GTA was $2,811, up 6 percent over the same three-month period last year. One-bedroom rents across the area averaged $2,143, a year-over-year increase of 7.4 percent.

Meantime, a total of 12,358 condo units were listed for rent via TREB’s online service throughout the quarter, rising 22.4 percent annually. While that provided some relief, it wasn’t enough to keep rents in check and current conditions still suggest strong interest from renters.

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“It makes sense that we continued to see an increase in condominium apartment rentals during the last quarter. The GTA’s population continues to grow as people are attracted to the region by its strong economy and diversity,” says TREB President Garry Bhaura in a statement.

TREB reports 6,646 condo apartments were leased in the first quarter, climbing 7.7 percent compared to year-ago rental activity.

“The bottom line is you’re still seeing a lot of demand for rental accommodation,” Jason Mercer, TREB’s chief market analyst, tells Livabl. “When that’s the case, you get competition between potential renter households, and that exerts upward pressure on rents,” he adds. This competition could include bidding wars over units, a phenomenon that has been reported on in Toronto and Vancouver for some time.

Speaking to the increase in listings observed this past quarter, Mercer emphasizes “one quarter doesn’t make a trend.”

In the City of Toronto, on average one-bedroom units leased for $2,186, while two-bedroom units went for $2,964.

Those looking for lower rents — at the cost of a potentially longer commute — may want to look to neighbouring Mississauga, a suburb-turned-city that borders Toronto to the west.

There, average rents are $2,046 for a one-bedroom and $2,417 for a two-bedroom apartment.

“Affordable rental housing is an important component in the overall competitiveness of the GTA,” says Mercer in a statement. “Businesses and individuals are more likely to locate in regions where there is a ready supply of affordable housing alternatives.”

Toronto — as well as other Ontario destinations such as Ottawa and Kitchener–Waterloo — are able to attract some talent from BC due to even higher housing costs in Metro Vancouver, suggests one economist.

But this, in turn, can further erode affordability in the relatively cheaper Ontario markets. “That’s always a risk,” Edgard Navarrete, Central 1 Credit Union’s Ontario regional economist, tells Livabl.

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