Toronto GTA March Rent Report 2021

Greater Toronto Area Rental Market

This first chart presents data on the average monthly asking rent as well as the average rent per square foot for GTA rental listings (all property types: basement apartments, rental apartments, condo apartments, townhouses and single-family homes) from February 2019 to February 2021. 

The average rent for all property types in the GTA was $1,986 per month in February 2021, a decrease of 16.3% from the previous year, and 13.2% from February 2019. The average rent per square foot (psf) remained relatively stable for most of 2019 and 2020, hovering around $3 psf. After September 2020, the rental rate per square foot began to dip, landing at $2.74 psf in February 2021. This is a 9.9% drop from the previous year, and a 11.6% drop from February 2019. 

Average Rental Rates by Bedroom Type

The chart below presents data on the average rent by bedroom type in the GTA for all property types in 2020 and 2021 by quarter (Q1-20201 includes January and February only). Five- and six-bedroom units have been removed from the chart, as the small sample sizes lead to quarterly volatility.  

Rents for all bedroom types except for four-bedroom units have decreased in Q1-2021 versus Q1-2020. 

The average monthly rent for a studio apartment in Q1-2021 was $1,473, a decline of 15% year over year. After a brief move up in Q2-2020, the rent per square foot for studios has steadily declined throughout the year, moving from $4.01 psf in Q2-2020 to $3.52 psf in Q1-2021. 

The largest decline was experienced in one-bedroom units, where the average monthly rent dropped by 16% annually to $1,760 per month. The average rent per square foot has steadily declined over the past year, falling 17% annually from $3.45 psf to $2.87 psf.

Two-bedroom units have performed similarly to studio apartments when compared to the previous year, with average monthly rental rates dropping by 15% year over year. The average rent per square foot has also consistently declined during the pandemic, declining by 14% compared to the previous year ($2.96 psf to $2.56 psf).

The average rent for three-bedroom units did not decline as severely as the smaller unit types, decreasing by 9% compared to the previous year to $2,614 per month. Units with three bedrooms were the only bedroom type where rent per square foot increased compared to the previous quarter, moving up to $2.13 psf from $2.09 psf, but are still down slightly from a year earlier at $2.15 psf. 

Four-bedroom units are the only bedroom type to experience an increase in average monthly rent year over year, moving up 4.7% annually to $3,123 per month. The average rent per square foot for Q1-2021 also increased compared to the previous year, moving up 10% to $1.64 psf. However, this measure can be volatile due to the wide range of sizes for four-bedroom homes. Anecdotal commentary suggests there are a lot of tenants and households looking to rent larger properties during the pandemic, and the data bears that out. 

Average Rental Rates by Property Type 

The figure below presents GTA data on the average rent and average rent per square foot for single-family homes, condominium apartments, and rental apartments by month from February 2020 and February 2021 via TorontoRentals.com listings data. 

The average monthly rent for single-family homes continued to decline in February 2021. The rent fell 8% compared to February of last year to $2,576 per month. The average rent per square foot has declined 7% annually, moving from $1.83 psf to $1.71 psf. 

Condominium apartments have fared worse, with the average monthly rent declining 18% annually, down to $2,040 per month. The rent per square foot has also declined 14%, moving to $2.98 psf in February of this year from $3.47 psf in February 2020. 

In February 2021, the average rent for rental apartments decreased by 11% to $1,918 per month. The average rent per square foot has also decreased year over year, down 4.5% to $2.74 psf.

While the average monthly rental rate for condo apartments continued to decline in February 2021 compared to January 2021, the average monthly rent for single-family homes and rental apartments in February 2021 managed to increase compared to the previous month. However, it should be noted that these are asking rents, and can occasionally be pulled up by a lot of larger and more expensive recently completed units sitting on the market. 

Average Rents for Condominium & Rental Apartments by Municipality 

The bar graph below presents data on the average rent for condominium and rental apartments in the former municipalities within the amalgamated City of Toronto in February 2020 and February 2021. 

The average rental rate in February 2021 for all the former municipalities in Toronto have declined compared to the previous year, a stark contrast when compared to the increases these municipalities experienced in February 2020 prior to the pandemic. 

In February 2021, Toronto experienced a 19.7% decline in average rental rates compared to the previous year, down to an average of $2,000 per month. Etobicoke saw a decline in average monthly rental rates of 15.5% to $1,942. The best performing area in terms of yearly change in average rental rates was East York, decreasing only 6% to $1,774 per month. However, East York rents were down 5% annually in February of 2020 as well, the only former municipality to decline pre-pandemic. 

Condo & Rental Apartments by Rounded Unit Size

The new chart looks at listings data on the average rent per square foot by rounded unit size (to the nearest hundred) for condominium apartments and rental apartments in 2019 and 2020 and year to date in 2021. Only units from 250 to 1,249 square feet were included in the analysis. 

The average rent per square foot has decreased in 2020 and 2021 for both condominium apartments, as well as purpose-built rental apartments at almost all size thresholds. 

The average rent for condo apartments was $3.78 psf in 2019, dropping to $3.50 psf in 2020. Over the first two months of 2021, the $3.12 psf average rent is down 17% compared to 2019 (when eliminating the larger outliers). The average rent per square foot has declined in 2020 and 2021 for condominium apartments of all sizes. The micro condo units at around 300 square feet  have seen rents decline 27% from their 2019 level. 

Purpose built rental apartments have fared similarly, declining 14% since 2019 down to $2.97 psf. Per-foot rental rates have declined for every size range in the former City of Toronto for rental apartments year to date in 2021 versus 2020 overall.

Condo and Rental Apartment Rental Rates by Postal Code

The map below looks at average rental rates by month and per square foot by postal code in west Toronto and Etobicoke from the start of 2019 to February 2021. 

The average rent per square foot was $3.78 psf in M5S, and $3.67 psf in M5V, which is the most active postal code for rental activity in the GTA. Rents decline the farther west you go. Average rental rates drop off significantly north of Eglinton in Etobicoke due to a lack of newly built projects. 

Condo Apartment Rent Levels Per-Square-Foot

The chart below looks at the average rent per square foot for condominium apartments in Downtown Toronto and the rest of the GTA from February 2020 to February 2021.

In February 2020, the average rent per square foot for a condominium apartment in downtown Toronto was $3.84 psf. Throughout the course of the year, the average rent has steadily declined, ending at $3.13 psf in February 2021. This represents an 18.4% decrease year over year. Month over month, condo rent increased by $0.01, the first monthly increase since June 2020. 

The average rent in the rest of the GTA remained relatively stable from February 2020 to July 2020. After July, the average rent per square foot began to fall. The average rent per square foot fell from $3.27 psf in February 2020 to $2.88 psf in February 2021, a drop of nearly 12%. The average rent per square foot for Downtown Toronto and the rest of the GTA have been declining in tandem since the middle of 2020.

Annual Change in Condo Rental Rates by Project

The chart below presents data on several condominium apartments in terms of rental activity in the GTA in February 2021. The chart shows the average rent and annual change in average rent. 

Taking a closer look at select condominiums in the GTA, we can see that all of these high-activity buildings experienced a decrease in average rent from the previous year. The largest decrease was experienced by YC Condos, declining 34% annually to $1,742 per month. The Wyatt, which is in Regent Park is down 9% annually. 

In terms of average monthly rent, units in Grid Condos are the least expensive, averaging $1,680 per month after experiencing a 30% decrease in average rent from the previous year.

Midtown Rental Market

The chart below looks at the average rent and average rent per square foot for select developments in February 2021 in the Yonge and Eglinton area. 

The new E18HTEEN Luxury Rental Apartments is offering suites for $2,408 per month — the highest in the area. The 58-storey, E Condos project, which is one of the most recently completed buildings in this node, has an average rent of $2,190 per month as of February 2021.

In the Yonge and Eglinton area, the lowest average monthly rent can be found at Upper Canada Ct at $1,589 per month. The highest average monthly rent of $2,671 per month can be found at Roehampton Avenue

Conclusion

The average rent for all property types in the GTA has declined for 15 consecutive months, but there are signs that it may be changing soon. The average rent per square foot for condo apartments in downtown Toronto didn’t decline month over month. The average monthly rent for single-family homes as well as rental apartments also increased slightly in February over January, which may be an indication of how the market will respond moving forward. With the increasing pace of vaccinations and lockdowns slowly being lifted, tenants will look to resume their lives.

The bubble-like conditions in the resale housing market will force some potential buyers to continue renting, while other tenants may become more cautious, anticipating another government intervention, similar to 2017. 

Ben is the President and owner of Bullpen Research & Consulting Inc. With over 15 years of real estate research experience in both the United States and Canada. As Editor & Executive Vice President of a Toronto-based condominium apartment data tracking firm, Ben established himself as one of the GTA’s top housing analysts, and an in-demand media commentator.

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