TORONTO – January 19, 2022: Urbanation Inc., the leading source of data and analysis on the GTA condominium and rental apartment markets since 1981, released its year-end 2021 rental market results.
GTA Rental Vacancy Rate Falls back Below 3%
The purpose-built vacancy rate in buildings completed since 2005 in the GTA declined to 2.4% in Q4-2021, down from 5.7% a year ago in Q4-2020 and a recent high of 6.4% in Q1-2021. In the former City of Toronto, vacancy rates returned to a balanced level of 3.1% after reaching 7.4% a year ago and 9.0% in the first quarter of 2021. In the outer-416 (Scarborough, Etobicoke, and North York) and 905 GTA markets, vacancy rates effectively returned to pre-pandemic levels in Q4-2021 at 2.3% and 1.1%, respectively. In the case of the 905, vacancy never rose above 2% during the pandemic.
The incentives in place since the pandemic began have been effective for rental operators, but they became less necessary as the market tightened and shifted back towards a landlord’s market. Less than half (47%) of surveyed purpose-built rental buildings were offering some type of financial incentive to new tenants in Q4-2021, down from a 70% share a year ago.
Rental Construction Increased to More than 30-Year High
Purpose-built rental apartment development rose to its highest level in decades as 6,720 units started construction in 2021, nearly doubling the five year average of 3,379 starts between 2016 and 2020. As of year-end 2021, 17,912 rentals were under construction and 93,321 rentals were proposed for development.
Rental Demand Shifts Back Into the Core
Total condo apartment lease transactions in the GTA rose 24% in 2021 to a record 47,737 units. As a result, total active rental listings at year-end dropped 73% from a year earlier to 2,158 units, equal to only 0.7 months of supply based on Q4 lease volume. The downtown markets were the growth leaders last year, with lease activity up 27% annually in 2021 within the former City of Toronto. Furthermore, rental activity once again favoured small units, as lease volume in 2021 grew fastest for rentals under 600 sf with 29% annual growth.
Condo Rent Growth Rises into Double Digits
Condominium rents for leases signed during Q4-2021 rose 10.8% year-over-year to an average of $3.27 per square foot ($2,361), led by a 15.9% annual increase in the former City of Toronto to $3.64 psf ($2,456). Rents in the outer-416 markets increased 8.9% annually to $3.03 psf ($2,277), while 905 region rents were up 9.4% to $2.95 psf ($2,282). GTA rents were down 3.5% when compared to the pre-pandemic average in Q4-2019, with City of Toronto rents down 4.5% but 905 region rents growing 4.1% over the two-year period.
The rent recovery over the past year was strongest for studios units, which increased 15.9% annually in Q4-2021 to an average of $4.31 psf ($1,771), compared to annual growth of 12.5% for one-bedrooms to an average of $3.44 psf ($2,117), 9.6% for two-bedrooms to an average of $3.08 psf ($2,741) and 6.3% for three-bedroom units to an average of $2.80 psf ($3,382).
“The GTA rental market downturn that occurred during 2020 as a result of the initial effects of COVID-19 quickly reversed in 2021. While an expected record high for condominium completions and a multi-decade high for purpose-built rental completions in 2022 may help to keep some level of balance in the market this year, expect rents to continue growing on record high immigration, rising incomes, and low homeownership affordability.”
- Shaun Hildebrand, President of Urbanation.
Urbanation’s UrbanRental subscription provides quarterly market reports and online historical database access for newly completed, under construction and proposed purpose-built rentals in the GTA and Hamilton-Grimsby, in addition to secondary condominium rentals in registered buildings. Urbanation surveys purpose-built rental projects developed since 2005 for market rents and vacancies through our direct relationships with rental building owners and management companies, and our continuous monitoring of information on units becoming available for rent. We regularly conduct in-person site visits and provide full profiles for every new rental project surveyed. Our rental database also tracks development progress for every new rental project under construction and proposed for future development.
Urbanation is a real estate consulting firm that has been providing market research, in-depth market analysis and consulting services to the apartment industry since 1981. Urbanation uses a multi-disciplinary approach that combines empirical research techniques with first-hand observations and site visits. Urbanation offers subscription services and custom market studies covering the new construction condominium and purpose-built rental apartment markets in the Greater Toronto Area.