Average rents in Canada up 3.8% year over year: National Rent Report

The average rent for all Canadian properties in December was $1,789 per month, up 3.8 per cent annually, according to the Rentals.ca and Bullpen Research & Consulting latest National Rent Report.

This is the fourth consecutive month average asking rents were positive year over year based on Rentals.ca listings, following 16 consecutive months of annual decline.

But for the first time since April, the average rent decreased month over month, falling 1.5 per cent from $1,818 per month in November. 

According to the report, Rental rates tend to fall in December as prospective tenants are concentrating on the holidays and not looking for apartments. It is not likely that the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus was a major factor, as average rents declined 1.8 per cent monthly in December 2020, and 3.3 per cent monthly in December 2019. 

Although the real estate market has recovered in the last several months, uncertainty will persist as governments issue further lockdown measures because of the Omicron variant. There is some consensus among experts that these lockdowns and restrictions will be much shorter than previous ones, so the Bullpen Research & Consulting/Rentals.ca forecast of continued rent growth in most major markets in 2022 has not been altered.

The rental market in Canada is returning to levels seen at the start of 2020, but remains $165 below the peak average rent of $1,954 in September 2019. 

Toronto finished second on the list of 35 cities for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom at $2,013 and for a two-bedroom at $2,715. 

Year over year, average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom in Toronto was up 9.2 per cent and up 11.6 per cent for a two-bedroom. Month over month, average rent in Toronto was down 1.4 per cent for a one-bedroom and down 2 per cent for a two-bedroom.

Eight of the top 11 cities and areas on the list of 35 with the highest rent for a one-bedroom home in December were part of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

Etobicoke came in third on the list for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,857 and fourth for a two-bedroom at $2,408. 

Year over year, average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom in Etobicoke was up 4.1 per cent and up 8.7 per cent for a two-bedroom. Month over month, average rent in Etobicoke was up 2.9 per cent for a one-bedroom and up 5.2 per cent for a two-bedroom.

Mississauga finished fourth for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,772 and eighth for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,140. 

York came in fifth on the list for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,706 and for a two-bedroom at $2,250.

North York finished sixth for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,679 and ninth for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,136. 

Brampton came in eighth on the list for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,621 and 19th for a two-bedroom at $1,884.

Year over year, average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom in Brampton was up 7.1 per cent and up 3.6 per cent for a two-bedroom.

Ajax finished 10th for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,617 and 13th for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $1,956. 

Vaughan came in 11th on the list for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,602 and seventh for a two-bedroom at $2,159.

Average rent both annually and monthly for a one-bedroom was down in December in Vaughan by 5 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively, while average rent for a two-bedroom was up 5.8 per cent year over year and up 4.9 per cent monthly over month. 

East York finished 13th for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,580 and 10th for average monthly rent for a two-bedroom at $2,127. 

Scarborough came in 20th on the list for average monthly rent in December for a one-bedroom home at $1,487 and 15th for a two-bedroom at $1,911.

Vancouver had the highest average rent in December among the municipalities and former municipalities at $2,519 per month, an annual increase of 15 per cent from the December 2020 average of $2,189 per month. Oakville had the next highest average rent at $2,473 per month – an annual increase of 9.9 per cent from its December 2020 average of $2,251 per month. 

Toronto average rent increased from $2,046 in December 2020 to $2,266 this December; Ottawa average rents went from $1,809 to $1,886; London average rents increased to $1,752 in December from $1,505 a year earlier; Montreal average rents rose to $1,708 from $1,660; while Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon average rents were up slightly year over year. 

Regina had the lowest average rent out of the municipalities with an average of $1,014 per month, unchanged from the previous year.

The Bullpen Research & Consulting and Rentals.ca forecasts for the rental market in 2021 were fairly close for Calgary, Mississauga, Montreal, and Toronto, with average rents in the select municipalities landing within $150 of the averages forecasted. The average rent in Vancouver at $2,519 per month in December 2021 was much higher than the predicted average of $2,240 per month.

“December is typically one of the slowest months for rental activity every year, and 2021 appears to be no exception,” said Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting. “Average rental rates moderated in December after rents surged following the April market bottom, where rents had fallen by over 9 per cent annually. It is too early to tell if Omicron will have a prolonged deflationary impact on the rental market, but Bullpen Research & Consulting and Rentals.ca still believe there will be significant upward growth in rents in 2022 in Canada’s major markets.”

In Toronto, the downtown core saw the highest levels of annual change in average rent, ranging from 2.4 per cent to 25 per cent. 

Many areas of Toronto slightly farther away from the central core had middling levels of annual change in average rent ranging from -4 per cent to 4 per cent.

The side-by-side maps below show the average rent by area in the GTA over the final six months of 2020 and the final six months of 2021. 

The areas with the largest increase in average rent were in the downtown west area, and along Yonge Street near Bloor. 

The average rent in British Columbia was up 7.3 per cent annually in 2021 to $2,171 per month. Ontario’s rent increased annually by 5.4 per cent to $2,087 per month in the fourth quarter of 2021 from $1,980 in the fourth quarter of 2020. 

The average rent in Nova Scotia rose from $1,683 per month to $1,813 per month — an annual increase of 7.7 per cent. Anecdotally,  an influx of Ontario residents have moved Nova Scotia since the pandemic started, driving up rental rates there.

The average rent in Alberta declined from $1,244 per month in Q4-2020 to $1,233 per month in Q4-2021 — an annual decline of less than 1 per cent. 

In December, the average rent for a single-family home was $2,570 per month – an annual increase of 8.9 per cent, but still below pre-COVID-19 highs. The average rent had declined 9.3 per cent in the pandemic-impacted 2020 to $2,360

Condominium apartments experienced an annual increase of 11 per cent to $2,227 per month in December. Condos were hit the hardest during the early pandemic period as some tenants fled the big cities and their expensive housing, with condo rents falling by a whopping 18 per cent to $2,008 annually in December 2020 from $2,459 in December 2019. 

Apartments have not experienced the same levels of increases as single-family homes and condo apartments, increasing annually just over 1 per cent from $1,603 per month in December 2020 to $1,623 per month this December.

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