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Toronto sees record number of rental transactions in first few months of 2021

Toronto's rental market is still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic more than a year after it first hit, with average condominium apartment rent prices down significantly in Q1 of 2021 from the same period last year. 

But while rent prices have not yet bounced back to pre-pandemic levels — which isn't exactly a bad thing for Toronto tenants —notable growth in the number of rental transactions suggests market conditions could be tightening once again.

A new report from the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board indicates that GTA realtors reported 13,168 condominium apartment rentals through TRREB's MLS System during the first quarter of this year, representing an increase of 81.6 per cent from the 7,251 rentals reported in Q1 2020.

"The number of condo apartment rentals reported in the first quarter represented a new record for the first three months of the year," said TRREB President Lisa Patel in the report.

"This suggests we are accounting for pent-up rental demand from 2020. Strong rental demand is also an indicator of broader economic recovery with people willing to sign rental agreements because they are confident in their future job and income prospects."

The number of condominium apartments listed for rent during the first part of 2021 was also up dramatically year-over-year, increasing by 78.8 per cent compared to Q1 2020.

This increased supply helped rent prices stay low (ish), with the average one-bedroom condominium apartment rent ($1,820) down by 16.8 per cent year-over-year from $2,187 in Q1 of 2020.

The average two-bedroom rent was meanwhile down by 13 per cent over the same time last year, for a price of $2,447 in 2021 compared to $2,812 in 2020.

But according to TRREB experts, this trend may not last much longer.

"Average rents continued to be down on a year-over-year basis, as the supply and therefore choice for renters remained very high from a historic perspective," said TRREB chief market analyst Jason Mercer in a statement.

"However, if growth in rental transactions continues to outstrip growth in listings, market conditions will become tighter as we move through 2021 and even more so in 2022 as immigration and non-permanent migration rebound."

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