As Toronto rents near Brooklyn-level prices, tenants grow desperate

Posted
August 3, 2017
Article Source
Toronto Star

Trying to find an apartment in Toronto is a lot like online dating, only more demoralizing.

Ask Kin Lau. Normally, landlords would be swiping right on him. He's got a perfect credit score and a good job. But last week he drove 40 minutes to check out a one-bedroom — only to discover another suitor had snapped it up first.

"Do people just not go to see the place before renting?" said Lau, a 25-year-old accountant.

He just wants an apartment viewing. Is that too much to ask?

Renting in Toronto is the hardest it's ever been. Home prices have doubled since 2008, so buying is out of reach for many people. That's pushed Toronto rents to record highs, approaching those in Brooklyn and London. Potential tenants are so desperate they're driving the streets looking for rentals and creating web profiles, similar to dating bios, to attract landlords. And prices are likely to keep rising given new laws that builders say discourage construction.

"I can't take clients with mediocre credit anymore, because landlords don't even look at them," said Conrad Rygier, a broker at Keller Williams Realty Inc. "I've seen a lot of frustration. Downtown is just absolute craziness."

Investors, lenders and Canadians looking for places to live are wondering how much longer the home-price boom can last. Although values have fallen 17 per cent since March, compared with a 3-per-cent gain in the same period last year, the average price of a detached home in Toronto is still near a record at $1.39 million.

Rental supply is down to two weeks, meaning it would take that long to rent everything in town, and average rents have hit an all-time high.

Toronto mostly has three types of rental properties: privately owned condominium suites, rental buildings with a central landlord, and space in a private home. Supplies of all three are squeezed.

There are 1,125 condominium units available for rent in the city, down 13 per cent from last year, according to second-quarter data from Urbanation Inc. It's also a record low for the period in Toronto.

Read more: As Toronto rents near Brooklyn-level prices, tenants grow desperate