Photo: James Bombales

Even as COVID-19 cases continue to decline countrywide, the effects of the ongoing pandemic continue to ripple throughout Canada’s real estate market.

This week, Rentals.ca released its monthly national rent report providing a clear picture of changing rental rates as a result of the pandemic lockdown. While the average national rental price for all property types listed in April remained static at $1,842 per month, up slightly from $1,841.54 month over month, major urban centres have seen price declines.

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Toronto continues to lead as the country’s most expensive city to rent an apartment in, asking $2,305 per month. However, rents declined by 6 percent in April. Similarly, rates for rental and condominium apartments decreased in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa last month, with the cities seeing price drops of 6.8 percent down to $2,218, 7.6 percent to $1,222, 11.3 percent to $1,058 and 8.7 percent to $1,746, respectively. Out of all of the cities reported, York, Ontario experienced the sharpest decline in monthly prices, falling 12.6 percent to $1,941. Only two major Canadian cities saw price increases in April according to the report — Regina, whose prices jumped 1.6 percent to $1,029, and Montreal, where average rents creeped up by 0.6 percent to $1,694.

“Many extremely tight markets with limited vacancies are now flush with supply, and rents are declining in many of those markets,” reads the monthly report.

As most of the country is currently living with lockdown restrictions, the report explains that the majority of tenants are less mobile, sitting tight due to health and financial reasons. Landlords, big and small, are finding ways to adapt to the change in demand.

“Many large landlords are staying firm on their asking rents, willing to wait out the pandemic, offering incentives like $500 off or a free month of rent,” reads the report. “Smaller landlords appear to be more willing to lower their asking rent to attract the prospective tenants that are looking for apartments.”

Ontario still leads the way as the most expensive province for rental prices, asking an average of $2,141 per month in April for all property types, a 4.6 percent decrease from March. In second place, British Columbia rents averaged out at $1,946 per month, showing a slight 0.7 percent decline.

Travel restrictions and the grounding of many flights has crumpled short-term rental demand. Meanwhile, the report comments that there has been a boost in furnished rental and condominium apartments available for lease.

“Many hosts are seeing their activity grind to a halt, and there has been an increase of furnished apartments for rent according to many property listing agents,” reads the Rentals.ca report.

A quarter of rentals in Quebec were reported to be furnished in April, fetching an average of $1,956 per month with an average size of 867 square feet. Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario also reported noteworthy levels of furnished apartments, raking in average rents in April of $1,540, $2,531 and $2,369, respectively.

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