Average cost of renting a condo in Toronto approaching pre-pandemic peak, real estate board says

Toronto’s condominium rental market continues to tighten after a brief slowdown earlier in the pandemic with the average cost of a one-bedroom unit now approaching the record high reached in 2019.

New data from the Toronto Region Real Estate Board suggests that the average monthly rent of a one-bedroom unit processed through its MLS system reached $2,145 in the first quarter of 2022, which equates to a year-over-year increase of 17.8 per cent.

The average monthly rent of a two-bedroom unit, meanwhile, was up 17.2 per cent year-over-year and now stands at $2,867.

The real estate board said that rents are now nearing the peak reached just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when one-bedroom units were going for an average of $2,262 a month and two-bedroom units were going for an average of $2,941 a month, both record highs.

“Over the past year, we have seen an upward trend in average condominium apartment rents. This rebound in the rental market took hold as population growth accelerated throughout last year.” TRREB’s Chief Market Analyst Jason Mercer said in a news release. “Demand for rental accommodation is expected to remain strong this year and beyond, as job growth continues, immigration and non-permanent migration continues to support housing demand, and higher borrowing costs see some young people put their decision to purchase a home on hold.”

Condo rents declined by double digits at the outset of the pandemic as many tenants moved out of the core in search of more space during the work from home era.

But with many employees now returning to offices, at least part-time, the market appears to be showing signs of recovery.

The latest data from TRREB shows that the vacancy rate in condominium apartments within the City of Toronto was only 1.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2022, pointing to an extremely low supply of available units.

Elsewhere in the GTA the vacancy rate was even lower, ranging from 0.3 per cent in Durham to 0.9 per cent in Peel.

The real estate board also said that there was a 23 per cent decline in transactions on its MLS system in the first quarter of 2022. It said that with rental transactions as a share of listings still up on a year-over-year basis that could suggest that “demand remained strong while the supply of available units dipped.” “Immigration will be at or near record levels over the next two years. The number of non-permanent residents, including students, will also increase. Many of them will turn, at least initially, to the rental market. Investor-owned condominium apartments will be a key source of rental supply in the region,” TRREB President Kevin Crigger warned in the release. “It is clear that rental demand is increasing relative to available units. While the homeownership market often dominates the headlines, policymakers also need to be cognizant about the need for rental housing supply as we move forward.”

The increase in rental costs observed so far in 2022 is largely mirroring the rise in property values.

TRREB previously said that the average cost of a condominium apartment was up 19.6 per cent year-over-year in March. The average price across the GTA was $808,566 while in the City of Toronto itself it was $831,351.

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