Why lease is so costly in 3 Canadian cities (that are not Toronto or Vancouver)

Why lease is so costly in 3 Canadian cities (that are not Toronto or Vancouver)

When lease goes up, it typically goes up most dramatically in main city centres. And, certain sufficient, Toronto and Vancouver have persistently been within the highlight as rental costs have skyrocketed over the past yr. A two-bedroom condo within the Ontario capital averaged $1,765 a month in 2022, whereas the identical place in Vancouver soared to $2,002, in line with the most recent Canada Mortgage and Housing Company (CMHC). 

However it is not only a drawback for Canada’s greatest cities. 

Throughout the nation, excessive rates of interest have left would-be householders renting slightly than shopping for, driving up demand within the rental market. Steady youth employment has additionally boosted demand, as has an uptick in internet migration, the report mentioned, on condition that younger folks and new immigrants are likely to lease slightly than purchase. 

However each area has its personal distinctive components driving up the price of lease, from an improved financial system within the West to the influence of scholars returning to campus in school cities. 

Here is a have a look at what’s taking place in a few of these different rental markets. 


Janice Rourke, 67, lately acquired a discover that lease in her downtown condo was going up almost 24 per cent, a rise it blamed on the rising value of utilities, upkeep and different prices. (Alberta does not have a cap on lease will increase, although it does restrict how typically lease could be raised.)

“That was an enormous shock, once I noticed the quantity,” mentioned Rourke, who’s at present between jobs and mentioned it is going to be a wrestle to afford the brand new month-to-month invoice. 

Janice Rourke sits in the dining room of her downtown Calgary apartment.
Janice Rourke says she was stunned to see a discover that the lease for her Calgary condo was going up almost 25 per cent. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

She’s thought-about looking for a cheaper place, however says the costs of close by residences have not been significantly better. 

In Calgary, the typical value of a two-bedroom rental condo grew six per cent final yr to $1,466 a month, in line with the CMHC. 

“It is getting more durable and more durable to search out secure, reasonably priced lodging,” mentioned Rourke. 

Current tenants like Rourke and people on the hunt for a primary condo are dealing with a good rental market in Calgary as of late. Final yr, town’s emptiness price for purpose-built leases dropped to 2.7 per cent, its lowest since 2014 when the earlier oil increase of the early 2010s lured many individuals to Alberta. 

Rental demand has, this time, once more been buoyed by a record-high degree of immigration and an uptick in “in-migration” — folks transferring to the province from elsewhere in Canada — lured by Alberta’s relative affordability and accessible jobs.

“This [provincial migration] is critical, as a result of we’ve not seen this for lots of years,” mentioned Michael Mak, CMHC’s analyst for the area. 

What makes right this moment totally different from earlier increase occasions, Mak mentioned, is that the present financial progress is not solely linked to sturdy commodity costs, although these definitely performed a task. Employment has additionally grown in different sectors, particularly expertise. 

“These days, it is a way more diversified financial system,” mentioned Mak. 


The rental market in Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo, a cluster of three small cities some 90 kilometres southwest of Toronto, has been tight for a number of years, with a emptiness price hovering round two per cent. In 2022, it dipped even additional to 1.2 per cent, the area’s lowest in twenty years. 

In the meantime, condo rental costs grew by greater than seven per cent — quicker progress than the close by markets of Toronto, Guelph and London, in line with the CMHC report. The common value for a two-bedroom rental is now $1,469. 

Sana Banu, a current graduate of Conestoga School and president of the scholars’ union, recollects transferring to the area in 2018 as a world pupil and simply discovering a room to lease close to the Kitchener campus. 

Sana Banu is president of Conestoga Students Incorporated.
Sana Banu, president of Conestoga College students Included, says looking for a spot to lease within the Ontario area of Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo is placing college students in more and more precarious circumstances. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)

“[Today,] there is no such thing as a availability anymore throughout the neighborhood of the campus,” mentioned Banu.

The return of scholars to campus, after a lot distant studying in the course of the pandemic, has been among the many drivers of the tight rental market, in line with CMHC. The area is residence to Conestoga School, Wilfrid Laurier College and the College of Waterloo. 

Whereas all college students contribute to demand for leases, Banu says worldwide college students are much less doubtless than home college students to have household close to campus, and extra prone to lease whereas they examine. 

The variety of worldwide college students finding out in Canada has been on the rise for years, and whereas their numbers dipped in the course of the outset of the pandemic, the CMHC says there’s since been a “sturdy rebound” of examine permits issued in Ontario.   

The CMHC report says a surge in everlasting resident admissions within the area has additionally doubtless contributed to demand for leases, as has employment progress in its high-tech sector. 

As rental choices turn out to be fewer and farther between, Banu says extra college students are commuting from outdoors the area, sofa browsing or piling a number of roommates into the identical bed room. As college students turn out to be extra determined, she’s additionally involved they’re going to even be extra prone to fall for rental scams

“There’s not sufficient provide for the demand that we’ve got proper now,” she mentioned. 


A man in a suit smiles for the camera.
Kelvin Ndoro is a senior analyst with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Company (CMHC), primarily based in Halifax. (Canada Mortgage and Housing Company)

Each worldwide and, more and more, inter-provincial migration have contributed to excessive demand for leases in Halifax. Nova Scotia gained 17,319 folks from worldwide migration and 14,079 from inside Canada between July 2021 and July 2022, in line with the province’s Division of Finance.

Halifax’s current surge of in-migrants has been as a result of province’s comparatively low value of housing and its popularity for dealing with the pandemic, together with the rising capacity of employees to do their jobs remotely, in line with town’s financial improvement company.

The CMHC report says in-migrants are typically much less prone to lease and extra prone to buy properties, although this, too, has contributed to the excessive value of renting. 

“Native residents are having to remain in leases longer simply in order that they will step as much as purchase a house,” mentioned Kelvin Ndoro, CMHC’s analyst for the area.

After trending down for the previous couple of years, the emptiness price in Halifax held regular in 2022 at one per cent, mentioned Ndoro. In the meantime, the price of lease shot up by roughly 9 per cent, to a median of $1,449 for a two-bedroom condo. 

WATCH | Smaller cities are additionally seeing rising rents: 

Why are lease costs so excessive (in cities that aren’t Toronto)

Toronto and Vancouver have persistently been within the highlight for skyrocketing rental costs, but it surely’s an issue impacting renters throughout the nation. Excessive rates of interest pushing folks to lease slightly than purchase is an element, however every metropolis has its personal distinctive points.

Amid that record-low emptiness price, Chris Ryan, a Halifax property supervisor, says he will get between three to 5 inquiries a day from folks asking if he has any stock accessible. 

“We’re simply rising at a tempo that actual property hasn’t caught as much as but,” he mentioned.

Halifax, like Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge, has an abundance of post-secondary colleges. And the post-pandemic return of scholars to campus — and worldwide college students particularly — has contributed to demand for leases, the CMHC report famous.

Worldwide pupil enrolment has been on the rise there for years (apart from a dip in the course of the pandemic), in line with information from the Halifax Partnership. The financial improvement company says the share of worldwide college students attending college in Halifax has grown from about 14 per cent of enrolments in 2011-12, to about 23 per cent in 2021-22. 

Kyle Prepare dinner, vice-president of advocacy for the Saint Mary’s College Pupil Affiliation, says the shortage of pupil housing has left some in a precarious place.

“Usually we’re listening to … that college students are renting out their dwelling rooms, hallways,and generally having to share two to a few folks in a single room,” mentioned Prepare dinner. “It is one thing that is quite common, particularly over the previous couple of years since COVID.”

As extra folks transfer into Halifax, others have left for close by communities, seeking a extra reasonably priced place to reside, Ndoro says. 

Some younger persons are opting out of the rental market altogether, he mentioned, as a substitute selecting to reside with their dad and mom to economize.

Pressing want 

There are variations in what’s fuelling rental demand all through Canada, but in addition loads of similarities. As rates of interest go up, it turns into harder to purchase, pushing extra folks to lease for longer. 

Persons are additionally transferring into Canada and inside it — whether or not for varsity, work or seeking an reasonably priced place to reside — resulting in heightened demand in varied markets, even these the place cheap residences have traditionally been pretty simple to search out. 

There’s additionally one main similarity in what is anticipated to unravel the affordability drawback: extra housing provide. 

“[The results of this report] reinforce the pressing have to speed up housing provide and deal with provide gaps to enhance housing affordability for Canadians,” the CMHC report mentioned.