As in-person classes resume, Edmonton post-secondary students face a tough rental market

·3 min read
Joel Enahoro, a third-year international student from Nigeria, said he found it difficult to get a cheap rental for the 2021-2022 academic year. (Submitted by Joel Enahoro - image credit)
Joel Enahoro, a third-year international student from Nigeria, said he found it difficult to get a cheap rental for the 2021-2022 academic year. (Submitted by Joel Enahoro - image credit)

As fall approaches, post-secondary students in Edmonton are facing a tight rental market, with rising prices and tough competition.

Joel Enahoro, an international student at the University of Alberta, was scouring online postings this summer when he found the perfect rental: A room in a centrally-located house for $500.

But when the third-year computer science student from Nigeria called to set up a viewing, he was told the price had shot up to $700 a month.

"Things are tough for people who are trying to get new places," said Enahoro, who opted to pay more than he wanted for a spot near campus.

Enahoro isn't alone. A new report from Rentals.ca shows prices in Edmonton in July jumped 1.4 per cent for a one bedroom and 1.5 per cent for a two bedroom.

While last year saw many students learning remotely, the return of classes is also corresponding with renewed interest in long-term leases, said Mark Hawkins, president of Rentfaster.ca.

"It's kind of a double whammy," he said, adding that as the city re-opens, more people are looking to get a rental for the year.

"Things are renting almost two times faster than they would of a year ago."

What a difference a year makes

Last year, rental prices plunged. While year-over-year prices are still down, those prices are creeping up.

Michelle Lee, a third-year U of A student originally from Hong Kong, experienced that bump first hand.

She had been paying $1,100 a month for a studio near campus. But when her landlord raised her rent by $100, she decided to move.

CBC News
CBC News

But it wasn't easy.

"Last year, if you wanted to get a house it was very easy," she said, adding that landlords were offering perks like a month free or gift cards.

"This year, they don't have any of that. And if you don't put down the deposit fast enough, your unit might be gone."

She finally secured a spot in Century Park, where she'll be splitting a two-bedroom for $1,800 a month.

Jumping through hoops

Pedro Duque, a second-year MBA student at the U of A, began his search for a rental near campus last year, while he was learning remotely in his home city of Rio de Janeiro.

Submitted by Pedro Duque
Submitted by Pedro Duque

"I've followed the market since 2020," said Duque, who noticed a shift this year as the school year approached.

"Good houses with a fair price were rented really fast," he said, adding he also needed space for his wife and two young kids.

With the clock ticking, Duque found a family-friendly rental in Windermere. But since he doesn't have a Canadian credit history, the landlord asked for a year upfront.

"I agreed to pay four months in advance [and] two months deposit, with a total of $11,000 upfront," he said.

"That hurts."

Still, Edmonton ranks 27th in Canada for rental prices, according to Rentals.ca.

Rowan Ley, president of the U of A students' union, said relative affordability still makes Edmonton an attractive place to study.

"[But] as housing prices spiral up across Canada we have to stop that from happening here," he said.

"Making sure we build dense, student-friendly housing near campuses and near transit is one of the best ways we can make Edmonton a competitive place to learn, and a good place to stay and raise a family."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting