According to the March National Rent Report from Rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting, the national average rental rate dropped 3 per cent month over month and 3.4 per cent year over year.
Average monthly rent was down or flat for one-bedroom and two-bedroom homes in most cities, but a few municipalities bucked the trend including Brampton, Kingston, Burnaby and Quebec City.
Toronto led all 38 cities on the list for average monthly rent in February for a one-bedroom home at $2,240 and a two-bedroom at $2,910.
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, had the lowest average monthly rent at $825 for a one-bedroom and $923 for a two-bedroom.
The report reveals a 4 per cent annual rent increase in Toronto to $2,524 per month (former city, pre-amalgamation) for all property types; 15 per cent in Vancouver to $2,334 per month; and 31 per cent in Montreal to $1,708 per month.
Ottawa rents declined by 5 per cent annually, Edmonton rents were down 6 per cent, and Saskatoon rents were down 16 per cent to $1,015 per month.
On a provincial level, Ontario had the highest rental rates in February, with landlords seeking $2,212 per month on average for all property types. British Columbia followed with a rate at $1,885 per month, while Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest at $927.
With the exception of Québec, all provinces experienced a month-over-month decline in average rents between January and February.
Condominium apartments are listed for rent at a 30 per cent to 35 per cent premium over the average rental apartment in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, while the premium is closer to 45 per cent in Québec.
Average unit size decreased in all bedroom types between February 2019 and February 2020, most notably in three-bedroom units, which dropped in average size from 1,271 square feet to 1,210 square feet.
Ten of the top 13 most expensive cities on the list for renters of one-bedroom and two-bedroom homes are in Ontario. The exception is New Westminster, BC which has a slightly higher average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $1,961 to Brampton’s two-bedroom at $1,944.
The report forecasts a temporary halt in immigration while the borders are closed. Rentals.ca will continue to closely monitor lease rates, listings activity, and trends during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are going to see a drop-off of walk-in showings for apartments across Canada during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Matt Danison, CEO of Rentals.ca. “Landlords and property managers will need to embrace virtual leasing as much as possible to keep their staff and potential renters safe during this difficult time. Rentals.ca has committed to help by significantly lowering the cost of 3-D and virtual tours until July 1 to help with social distancing.”
“Following two years of high rent growth in Canada outside of the commodity-driven markets, rental rates have softened considerably in 2020,” said Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting. “In the face of a global health crisis, the number of people making major life decisions like moving or changing jobs will be significantly reduced, and landlords will have to decide to either lower rents, offer incentives, or simply wait and hope for some return to normalcy in a couple of months.”