Rentals.ca June 2019 National Rent Report

The average property on Rentals.ca was offered for rent at $1,917 per month in May, an increase of 4% month-over-month. The median asking rent of $1,800 per month is up over April ($1,700), but identical to February.

The average and median asking rent increased despite a decline in the average unit size from 945 square feet (sf) in April to 932 sf in May. It should be noted that this data includes listings of single-detached, semi-detached, townhouse, rental apartment, basement apartments and condo apartments. Duplexes and triplexes are considered rental apartments.

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National Overview

average median monthly asking rent for all property types canada housing

By Property Type

Breaking down the Rentals.ca data by property type shows that single-family units (single-detached and semi-detached) increased by 1.4% month-over-month, while condo apartments were unchanged at $2,466 per month on average.

Rental apartments and townhouses contributed to the overall monthly increase in rents with apartments growing by 2.9% monthly, and townhouses increasing by 3.1% monthly to $1,778 per month.

Because of the small sample size of basement apartments, there is more monthly volatility in the average rental rate.

average rental rates by property types canada

Unit Sizes for Rental Apartments and Condo Apartments in Canada

The chart below shows the range of rental apartment and condominium apartment offerings on Rentals.ca in Canada since the start of 2019. The 10th percentile and 90th percentile by bedroom type were utilised to eliminate outliers, and see where the bulk of the activity is occurring.

When comparing the 10th percentile of rental apartments to the 10th percentile of condo apartments, condos are smaller in every bedroom type. The 90th percentile of unit size is similar for rental and condo apartments, but one-bedroom units are larger for condos (likely the result of more condos with dens being lumped into this category — there are fewer “plus dens” in older rental projects).

The bulk of condo listings in Canada are in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), so the 10th and 90th percentiles of rents is significantly higher for condominium apartments versus rental apartments. The 10th percentile for studio condo units is a whopping $1,700 per month, nearly $1,000 more than the 10th percentile for studio rental apartment units.

range of condominium and rental apartment offerings canada

Provincial Rental Rates

The chart below shows the average rent for purpose-built rental apartments by province over the past three months. Rents are trending up in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, but trending downward in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Average rental rates in Ontario continue to outpace the other major provinces in Canada, as it costs a tenant about $600 more per month to live in a rental apartment in Ontario than in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Quebec.

average rents by month rental apartments in provinces

Provincial Rents Per-Square-Foot

For a different perspective on monthly rental apartment rates, the chart below looks at average rent per square foot for rental apartments in select provinces in Q4-2018, in comparison to rates over the last three months.

Average and median rental rates in Manitoba and Quebec have declined since Q4-2018, while increasing slightly in Alberta and Saskatchewan. In Ontario, rental apartment asking rents per square foot over the last three months has increased 7% from the fourth quarter to $2.54 psf, however, rents per foot in British Columbia have increased 14% over the same period to $2.29 per square foot.

average and median rent per square foot for rental apartments

Single-Family Rental Rates in Ontario and British Columbia

The chart below looks at average rental rates for single-family (singles and semis) as well as townhouses in British Columbia and Ontario from October to December of last year, and compares it to the last three months of this year.

Two-, three- and four-bedroom single-family and townhouse units in Ontario are more expensive to rent on average than in BC, but BC has seen more sharp rent increases when comparing the two periods. However, keep in mind that the sample size in Ontario is much larger and more reliable as a measure of market growth or deceleration.

average rent for single family and townhouse

Municipal Rental Rates

Where is the most in demand or popular destination for renters in Canada? For this, we turn to some of Rentals.ca’s “Big Data” by looking at page views per listing (refer to the chart below which plots the most popular municipalities versus their average rent since October 2018).

Halifax is by far the most popular or in-demand municipality as ranked by page views per listing, with a whopping 85 page views for every unit listed on the site. Ottawa is a distant second with 60 and Victoria, BC is third at 47.

With the extremely high rental rates in Toronto and the high demand, one might ask why it didn’t make the list. This is where the data can be deceiving, because Toronto is so popular, many units are listed, leased and removed as an active listing, so not as many people see each listing as they do in Halifax, where rental turnover is not as quick.

A second explanation is areas that are dominated by purpose-built rental apartments and not units leased by private landlords, the property manager or leasing agent could keep a unit listed on Rentals.ca despite it being leased, simply as a lead generator for future vacancies.

The numbers are not always as they seem, so it always makes sense to dig a little deeper into the data.

popularities of municipalities ranked by page views per listingThe chart below shows the average rent for all property types in select municipalities in Canada over the past three months.

The three Ontario municipalities have steadily increased over the past three months, while Kelowna (which has a small sample size of transactions), saw average asking rents increase by almost $170 a month since March.

The biggest surprise on the list was Montreal, as a spike in listings on Rentals.ca in May resulted in a significant jump in the average rental rate. Saskatoon has witnessed a slight increase in rents over the last couple months as well, rising from about $1,280 per month in March to just under $1,360 in May.

average rental rates by month select municipalities in canada

Montreal Insights

Several Ontario developers are looking to Montreal for their next project as rental rates continue to trend upward, especially in the downtown core. The map below shows the average rental apartment and condominium apartment rents by postal code in Montreal from October 2018 to May 2019. There is a significant premium for downtown, with average rates topping $2,000 in several postal codes.

average rent for rental and condo apartments montrealSummary data on rental and condo market activity from October 2018 to May 2019 is presented in the chart below. Over 40% of the listings have been one-bedroom suites, followed by 33% being two-bedroom units.

To go from a studio unit to a one-bedroom unit will cost a tenant about $200 per month; to go from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom unit will cost a tenant about $400 to $500 per month.

rental and condo market activity montrealDespite some of the downtown postal codes having rental rates averaging over $2,000 per month, the histogram below shows that about 30% of Montreal rentals over the past eight months have been offered for rent at between $800 and $1,000 per month (excludes the few listings over $3,000 per month). Other than downtown, renting in Montreal is very inexpensive for a major market.

rental activity by rental rate for rental and condo apartments montreal

Mississauga Insights

Mississauga rentals is one of the most active markets on Rentals.ca, ranking eighth in total listings in Canada, accounting for 3.3% of the national market.

The shading in the chart below shows the average number of bedrooms per postal code in Mississauga listings from October 2018 to May 2019. This chart looks at all property types and shows that there are more units with multiple bedrooms for rent in north Mississauga and southcentral Mississauga, with much smaller units in the central band, the smallest being located in L5B at 1.6, which includes many of the investor-heavy high-rise towers in the Mississauga City Centre.

Mississauga Beds & average rentPostal Code L5B, or roughly the area covering the Mississauga City Centre and Cooksville area is home to a significant amount of the condominium and rental apartment activity in the municipality. The chart below shows summary data on the market share of listings by bedroom type, the range of monthly rental rates, and the average rental rate for Q4-2018 versus the last three months.

More small units have been listed recently, with the share of one-bedroom rental and condo apartment units increasing from 48% to 51% between the two time periods.

The biggest change between the two periods is that there are fewer cheap units available for rent as the lower bound or “min rent” shown in the chart is much higher for all bedroom types, while the upper bound didn’t change much.

The average price for one-bedroom units has increased by about 2.9% between these two periods, while two-bedroom units actually declined despite the elimination of many lower-priced units.

share of listings, range of rents and average rent by bedroom typeThe bulk of the listings in postal code L5B are condominium apartments leased by private landlords. The map below shows the location and average rent of the most active buildings in terms of listings in the area.

average rent by project and tenureAlmost all of the projects have average rents fall between $2,000 and $2,400 per month, with a couple of the older projects experiencing higher rent levels (Tiara and Aspenview), but lower per-foot rents, as their unit sizes were larger.

Two projects that were not shown on the map were the Absolute World Towers, better known as the Marilyn Monroe buildings, because they are on the east side of Hurontario in postal code L4Z. Tower 5 has had units listed for rent at $2,560 per month on average in 2019, while Tower 4 is slightly lower at $2,421.

absolute condos marilyn monroe buildings

Conclusion

Following two consecutive months of decline, the average rental rate in Canada increased month over month in May by 4% as measured by listings data on Rentals.ca (all property types). Single-family, townhouse and rental apartment rent increases fueled the overall jump.

Surprisingly, average condo rental rates were unchanged month over month at $2,466 nationally. However, in the Greater Toronto Area, the average rental rate actually increased slightly from $2,520 per month to $2,523 per month, which is not surprising given new condo completions in May were the lowest monthly total since November 2017. However, based on the smaller sample of listings on Rentals.ca that have their unit size listed, the rent per square foot in the GTA declined monthly from $3.45 psf to $3.44 psf.

The national unemployment rate has continued to decline, which adds housing demand. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions have reiterated that there will be no changes to the mortgage stress test, which results in lower homeownership demand. The net result of these two factors is more rental housing demand, and continued upward pressure on rents in Canada.

Rentals.ca Data

The data used in this analysis is based on monthly listings from Rentals.ca. The data is much different than the more familiar numbers collected and published by Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Rentals.ca data includes basement apartments, rental apartments, condominium apartments, townhouses, semi-detached houses and single-detached houses, where CMHC’s primary rental data only includes rental apartments and rental townhouses. CMHC does collect some data on the secondary market, but it is reported separately.

The CMHC rental rates are based on the entire universe of purpose-built rental units in Canada (the stock), while Rentals.ca data is primarily based on the asking rents of vacated units only (the flow) — this is more representative of the actual market rent a prospective tenant encounters. The Rentals.ca data set typically produces much higher rental rates in comparison to CMHC, as vacated units are not subject to rent control.

The average and median rental rates via Rentals.ca can also skew higher than CMHC’s data for several reasons: The inclusion of larger and more expensive unit types like singles, row units and condos; the survivorship bias (overpriced units remain in the sample longer); and the multiple listings of the same property at different rent levels every month.

It should also be noted that properties listed for above $5,000 a month and below $500 a month are eliminated from the sample of units analyzed. Also, short term leases, single-room rentals, and furnished rental units are eliminated from the sample where identifiable.

Ben Myers

Ben is the President of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc., a boutique residential real estate advisory firm. With over 15 years of real estate research experience in both the United States and Canada, Ben has acquired extensive knowledge on land values, new home prices and rental rates, and macro-level housing trends. Ben has held several positions in Toronto, including urban economist at Altus Clayton, and Executive Vice President at condominium apartment data tracking firm Urbanation Inc. Ben has previously been the keynote speaker at ULI and PWC’s flagship Emerging Trends Conference.