October 31st, 2020

Lethbridge still affordable for renters


By Mabell, Dave on December 31, 2019.

A "For Rent" sign marks the availability of a residence in Varsity Village. A report ranks Lethbridge as an affordable city for renters. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Lethbridge remains one of Canada’s most reasonably priced cities for renters.

As Canadians’ lifestyles continue to change, a national report shows more upper-income couples are choosing to rent a home rather than buying one.

And looking ahead, authors of the National Rent Report say price increases will be moderate in 2020.

“Lethbridge has remained an affordable city for renters this past year,” they observe.

Rents averaged $923 for a one-bedroom apartment or $1,051 for two bedrooms, they report.

That placed Lethbridge in 30th place in the Rentals.ca and Bullpen Research and Consulting list of 34 mid-sized or larger Canadian cities. Just one Alberta city, Lloydminster, was marginally lower.

Calgary placed 20th with rental rates averaging $1,179 or $1,408, compared to the 2019 national urban average of $1,918 per month. Nationally, the report shows, rents increased more than nine per cent over the year.

Toronto remains the most expensive city for one-bedroom suites, at $2,314 this year, while it says Vancouver has the most pricey market for two-bedroom units at $3,058 on average – nearly three times the Lethbridge rate.

In Alberta, meanwhile, the survey shows rental rates fell in Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton and Fort McMurray, declining from one to nine per cent over the year. Regina and Saskatoon recorded price drops as well.

The year-end figures are based on asking prices listed on the Rentals.ca website and include single-family dwellings, duplex units and basement suites as well as apartment, townhouse and condominium rental units.

Rentals.ca and the Bullpen residential real estate advisory firm predict an average three-per-cent rent increase over 2020 – though obviously that will vary from one market to the next.

At the same time, their report says more rental properties are being built across Canada, responding to shortages created by mortgage “stress tests” and other economic factors facing would-be home buyers.

Nearly 72,000 rental units were being built across the nation by the end of September – reportedly the highest number in more than 30 years.

“The media has focused more attention on the rental market as the mortgage stress test, expanded rental controls, changing AirBnB legislation, rapid population growth and record rental housing continues to disrupt the balance between supply and demand nationally,” says Bullpen president Ben Myers.

“We expect that market to continue to be undersupplied in Canada in 2020.”

Developers are also looking at providing more upscale rental homes for more affluent renters, the report says, including baby boomers and “empty nesters” who no longer want a larger home.

But now that market, it says, includes “younger renters choosing to remain tenants for lifestyle reasons.”

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