Local rental rate increase doubles national average in 2021


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The 5.7 per cent increase in monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Windsor region in 2021 was nearly twice the national average and tied for third highest in Canada.

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Based on the results of the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation’s annual survey released recently, the average two-bedroom apartment was $1,154. The national average is $1,167.

Only Sudbury (8.4 per cent) and Gatineau (6.7) had higher percentage increases while St. Catharines-Niagara was also at 5.7 per cent.

Windsor’s vacancy rate dropped .1 to 3.5 per cent.

“These numbers don’t surprise me,” Manor Realty manager Rob Agnew said. “I expected big growth in terms of the percentage rate increased and the supply.”

You won’t find anything decent for that and it won’t be in the best of neighborhoods

In comparison, a two-bedroom apartment in London cost $1,275 per month, which represents an increase of three per cent. There was a 1.9 per cent vacancy rate in the Forest City.

The Canada Building on Ouellette Avenue in downtown Windsor shown on Monday, February 21, 2022 is being converted from office space to residential units.
The Canada Building on Ouellette Avenue in downtown Windsor shown on Monday, February 21, 2022 is being converted from office space to residential units. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Agnew was blunt in describing what $1,100 gets a renter in Windsor.

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“You won’t find anything decent for that and it won’t be in the best of neighborhoods,” Agnew said.

“The supply may be up, but those are going to be in the higher end after being refurbished. To get something nice, you’ll have to go to $2,000-$2,500 usually plus utilities.”

Windsor has seen annual average increases in excess of five per cent for three consecutive years. In 2018, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment was $915.

This year’s increase of nearly six per cent came despite the province putting a rent freeze in place.

“Strong rent growth occurred despite the 2021 Ontario rent freeze that applied to most of the 83% of units that did not turn over to a new tenant,” wrote CHMC senior analyst for the Windsor market Tad Mangwengwende.

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“Turnover rates were at pre-pandemic levels. This suggests that a higher-than-usual number of units that turned over were previously occupied by long-term tenants or underwent renovations and were re-rented at much higher rates.”

Mangwengwende added the Windsor market saw an additional 245 new units or 1.6 per cent added to the region compared to 2020. That represents the largest annual increase in over 10 years.

Much of that additional supply came in the city’s central core, though it didn’t improve the vacancy rate in the area.

“Both the percentage increase in rents and the supply are because out-of-town investors are buying up everything, refurbishing, getting the tenants out and creating new rental rates,” Agnew said. “They’re leasing at current rates rather than carry people forward from 2015 rates.

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“Greater Toronto Area investors aren’t scared by the prices down here. It’s great for them but terrible for local people.”

Agnew said many of those most impacted are younger. With rents eating up an increasing amount of their paycheques there are fewer renters able to build any savings let alone transition to home ownership.

“Young people are screwed,” Agnew said. “They’re being forced to try and pay $2,000-plus because they’re few other options.

“They can’t save the $80,000 to $100,000 needed for a down payment and they can’t pass the stress test to take on the huge mortgage payments.”

Mangwengwende said with rent increases significantly outpacing growth in local wages, many low- and mid-income families can’t even afford the average-priced apartment.

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“Less than half of vacancies in 2021 were affordable, even to mid-income renters at the 60th income percentile of $48,000 (in the Windsor area),” Mangwengwende said.

With the CHMC recommending individuals don’t exceed committing 30 per cent of their income towards housing, local renters saw the number of monthly hours they had to work to meet that figure jump to 137.8. That increase of 18.6 hours was the second largest in the nation last year.

London’s increase from 14.9 hours to 154.1 hours per month was the third highest in Canada

The Windsor total was calculated by Statistics Canada based on the local average wage. A full-time job is considered to take 150 hours per month, meaning anything over that figure requires taking on a second income to pay the mortgage.

“We’ve got a major problem on our hands,” said Agnew, who added significant changes in housing policy are required by government at all levels.

“It’s a matter of finding ready land. Rezoning, easing of restrictions, set backs, density and green coverage all it has to be looked at.”

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