Incentives abound for renters in Canada’s largest cities 

Students, seniors, military, frontline workers, health-care workers benefit from many deals offered by landlords. 

Landlords across Canada continue to entice the best renters with offers of a month or two of free rent, gift cards, cash, free parking and free internet or TV service.

A few of the more creative incentives offered this month include:

  • University students who sign a 12-month lease before a certain date can “live rent free in the event of cancellation of on-campus courses;”
  • Renters will receive “an absolutely unforgettable experience of your choice,” along with two months free rent;
  • A choice between a $1,500 gift card to Structube or a new 128 GB iPhone 12 Pro;
  • Help in paying for moving costs;
  • A stocked wine fridge and a Ritual and/or a Netflix gift card.

Some deals are set up especially for seniors, students, health-care workers and frontline workers. In Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Winnipeg, many incentives are offered for one- and two-bedroom apartments and condos, while in Edmonton and Calgary, some incentives are offered for houses and townhouses.

Many landlords are putting more effort into attracting tenants to the smaller one-bedroom apartments and condos in downtown cores, as people working from home look for more space. In Toronto and Vancouver, more incentives are available for new buildings, luxury rentals and two-bedroom apartments, while in Winnipeg and Montreal, one-bedroom apartments and condos have more promotions. The same can be said for Calgary, Edmonton and Ottawa, but these cities also have a few townhouses and houses with incentives offered.

Pre-pandemic, incentives for renters were hard to find with low vacancy rates and high demand, but during the pandemic and now entering the post-pandemic period deals abound.  Vancouver had the fewest promotions of the big cities, and the units offered with incentives are rented quickly.

Many different incentives for renters in Toronto have replaced the lineup of renters for a single unit pre-pandemic. Even with pandemic restrictions being slowly lifted, prospective renters can find a number of deals on the market. Many of the deals for Toronto renters can be had in downtown, in new buildings, and for one- and two-bedroom apartments and condos.

The majority of deals in Montreal are for one- or two-bedroom apartments and condos geared toward students eager to sign a lease and get back in the classroom.  Most of the incentives in Montreal are for one and two months free, with extras such as free gym membership, gift cards, or shorter leases. But a couple of the offers might cause a prospective renter to take notice: “Move in by July 1 and get two months free in addition to an absolutely unforgettable experience of your choice!” and for students — “Sign a 12-month lease before June 30 and live rent free in the event of complete cancellation of on-campus courses.”

The types of units with incentives in both Edmonton and Calgary are for one- and two-bedroom apartments as well as some houses and townhouses, and include one or two months free rent, different retail gift cards, free or marked down utilities such as internet and cable, move-in bonuses and cash incentives. A number of promotions are earmarked for seniors, military personnel, students and frontline workers.

In Ottawa, most of the incentives offered by landlords are for one- and two-bedroom apartments and condos closer to the core, trying to lure back residents who left downtown looking for more space as they work from home, whereas in Winnipeg incentives are offered for one-bedroom apartments and condos spread out across the city and include discounted rent, move-in cash bonuses, free parking or utilities and gift cards.

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