Rents Rise By Double Digits In 17 Of 24 Canadian Cities: Padmapper

Daniel Tencer

Soaring rents are no longer just a Toronto and Vancouver problem.

The latest survey from rental site Padmapper shows rents jumped by double digits over the past year in 17 of 24 Canadian cities, with some of the country's (previously) most affordable markets seeing the largest hikes.

Toronto retained its position as the country's most expensive rental market for one-bedroom units in December, with asking rents rising 11.9 per cent in a year, to a median of $2,260. Two-bedroom rents rose 13.1 per cent, to $2,850 per month.

One-bedroom rents.

By comparison, Vancouver had a tame year, with one-bedroom rents up 6.5 per cent, to $2,130, while two-bedroom units rose 0.9 per cent, to $3,230.

Meanwhile, many smaller and mid-sized Canadian cities saw considerably faster rent jumps, with hikes in the 15-per-cent range in Halifax, Kingston, Kelowna, London, St. Catharines and Victoria.

Quebec's two largest metros, Montreal and Quebec City, also saw rent hikes in this range.

Change in rental rates.

So why are rental rates rising in many cities that haven't seen a house price boom? What explains, for instance, struggling Saskatoon's 10.7-per-cent rate hike?

The likeliest culprit is the mortgage "stress test" put into place at the start of last year, combined with rising interest rates that have pushed up monthly mortgage payments.

While the stress test and the Bank of Canada's rate hikes were meant in part to keep Canadian homebuyers from overextending themselves on their mortgages (and the evidence so far suggests it has worked), it may have had an unintended consequence: Forcing would-be homebuyers to stay in rental housing longer as they save up a larger down payment.

Watch: GTA renters are considering moving out due to high housing costs. Story continues below.


According to recent estimates from economists at Royal Bank of Canada, the stress test significantly impacted home affordability in many Canadian cities, including those that hadn't seen rapid house price growth in recent years.

In Halifax, for instance, the qualifying income needed to buy an average home jumped to $70,000 from $52,000 in the past three years, with much of that due to the stress test and rising interest rates.

Estimates from Royal Bank of Canada shows the income needed to buy an average home in Canada has spiked over the past three years, with the mortgage stress test and rising interest rates to blame for much of the rise.

Another reason commonly cited for the rent spikes is the acceleration in Canada's population growth. The federal government's increase to the country's quota of new arrivals to above 300,000 has spurred faster population growth, and many market experts say real estate developers haven't yet adjusted to the new reality.

As new immigrants tend to rent rather than buy, this puts more pressure on the rental market than on the sales market.

Earlier on HuffPost Canada:


Still, there may be some relief on the horizon for renters, at least in some cities.

Toronto is currently seeing the highest rate of purpose-built apartment construction the city has seen in three decades, according to industry research group Urbanation. That will slow down rental rate growth this year, the group predicted, noting that the rate at which rents have been increasing had already been slowing through 2018.

But many experts say the upward pressure on rental rates will continue in 2019, in Toronto and elsewhere, as there's little on the horizon to change the situation in most cities.

Rental and sales site Rentals.ca polled 16 industry professionals, and they predicted 11-per-cent rental rate growth for Toronto in 2019, a 9-per-cent increase in Ottawa and 7 per cent in Vancouver. They point to near record-low vacancy rates in those cities as one sign price growth will continue.