rent toronto

New report shows Toronto tenants had the most trouble paying their rents in 2020

New data is in about how the rental market in Canada changed over the course of last year amid the health crisis, and it appears that things were a bit tougher for tenants of Toronto than they were for those in other cities across the country.

The numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's latest Rental Market Report show that a lot of things changed in the housing market in Toronto in 2020, including the fact that vacancy rates soared as droves of people moved out of the city and an influx of former Airbnbs came onto the long-term market, which we already well knew.

Despite more apartment options, with the financial hardships that the pandemic brought on and the notoriously expensive nature of the city, more people in Toronto had trouble paying their rents in 2020 than tenants of any other metropolitan area, says the housing agency, with around 11 per cent of units — 34,858 total — in arrears.

This inability to afford rent was more predominant among tenants of units with lower rent prices who work in the service and hospitality sectors, and added up to a total of $55 million in unpaid rent, per the CMHC's numbers.

And though other assessments of the industry found that rents in Toronto fell drastically for 12 months in a row last year compared to average rents in 2019, the CMHC asserts that rent actually went up in the city by an average of 4.7 per cent, to $1,523, based on its own figures for two-bedroom units specifically.

This was compared to a national average rental rate of $1,113 for a two-bedroom apartment in 2020, up 3.6 per cent according to the Crown corporation.

And, out of all urban centers in the country, Toronto was tied with Vancouver for having the least amount of affordable housing to serve the population that most needs it: "Just 0.2% of the rental universe in Vancouver CMA and Toronto CMA are affordable to renter households in the first quintile [of income]," the report notes.

"Contrast Montréal, where 15% of the rental universe is affordable to households in the first income quintile."

Lower income residents looking for the cheapest rent in Toronto also faced slightly higher vacancy rates and more competition than those with larger budgets who were in the market for more expensive, larger units, "rais[ing] additional challenges for lower income households, particularly for families requiring more space."

Also interesting is the fact that despite predominant reports of cheaper rent, on average, as well as other rental incentives in many Canadian cities, fewer people seemed to actually take advantage of deals and move in 2020 than in 2019, says the CMHC: only 14 per cent of units saw a change in renters, compared to 17.3 per cent in 2019.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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