Tenants are feeling the pinch across the country – these 5 charts break it down

Many Canadians find it more difficult to find a home that fits their budget as rents are skyrocketing across the country.

Rising prices are partly driven by higher interest rates, which cool the housing market and in turn put pressure on rents.

Here are five charts that show some of the numbers behind the problem.

Rents are going up again

After pandemic-induced declines in 2020 and 2021, Canadian rental rates are rising again. The median rent for all property listings on Rentals.ca for the second quarter of 2022 was $1,750, up seven percent from the same period last year.

The listings include detached homes, townhouses, townhouses, condominium apartments, rental apartments and basement apartments.

The year-on-year increase in the second quarter of 2022 continues a trend. Median rents across the country also increased year on year in the previous two quarters.

However, rents for all of Canada have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, with the median rent reaching $1,825 in the fourth quarter of 2019.

British Columbia has seen the highest annual average rent increase of nearly 25 percent. Meanwhile, Nova Scotia has seen a double-digit rise during the pandemic. In 2021, the county’s business development agency launched a marketing campaign to attract telecommuters. In 2022, the county tried to introduce a new tax for non-resident homeowners, but later backed out.

Income versus rent

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable” housing as housing costs that are less than 30 percent of a household’s income before tax. Taking rent and utilities into account, CBC News calculated how much a household needs to earn to keep the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment below that threshold.

In Vancouver, where the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment has reached an astonishing $3,597, a household would need to earn a gross income of more than $150,000 to consider that rent affordable. In Toronto, a household must earn more than $135,000.

Housing costs versus everything else

Breaking through the consumer price index (CPI) also gives a sense of how housing has hit Canadians’ wallets. The CPI measures changes over time in the prices of goods and services such as food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, recreation and, of course, shelter.

While prices in an economy tend to rise over time, the cost of shelter has risen faster than anything else we buy.

Between 2002 and most of 2004, the cost of “everything else” rose faster than the cost of housing.

But in late 2004, the rise in housing costs began to outpace the rise in the cost of everything else. Except for a period in August and September 2005, that trend has continued ever since.

Housemates are becoming more and more popular

Some people have moved in with a roommate or roommates to reduce rent costs. Flatmate households — defined by StatsCan as two or more cohabiting people who are not part of a census family — are the fastest-growing household type in Canada.

Although they still make up a small part of all Canadian households (four percent), the 663,835 housemates in 2021 represent an increase of 54 percent compared to 2001.

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