Ottawa’s Average Rent Price Hits a Peak

According to the latest data from RentFastera popular rental listing site in Canada, the average monthly rental price for an apartment, condo, townhouse, duplex or two-bedroom home in the capital federal government topped $2,000 for the first time last spring.

In the height of summer, the average rental cost was estimated at nearly $2,100 per month.

Meanwhile, there are half as many two-bedroom units available in Ottawa compared to the same period a year ago. Last summer, just over 300 units were for rent, compared to about 130 currently.

CBC spoke to three Ottawa residents looking for housing to discuss the issues they face.

Too expensive to live alone

For Grace Salomonie, a 21-year-old professional, finding an apartment to rent means she has to make tough choices.

Ms. Salomonie had hoped to find a one-bedroom unit in which she could live on her own. She was looking for an apartment near her place of work, downtown, in order to save money to go back to school and one day have her own house.

However, so far, Grace Salomonie hasn’t found anything that fits into the $1,200 per month budget she’s set for herself.

I want to invest in my future. However, with the current market in Ottawa, I am not sure that I will be able to have the future I dream of or to have my own house.she says.

Ms. Salomonie was forced to review her plans and live with a roommate. She says she fears she will never be able to live on her own. Housing monopolizes a large part of his income, which leaves him little room for maneuver to save money.

It’s very very expensiveshe laments.

Foiled three times by one-upmanship

Erin Hobson, 39, and her partner have lost three times to competing offers from other tenants.

Erin Hobson wants to find a bigger apartment, but the demand is high compared to the supply in Ottawa.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Francis Ferland

It’s very frustrating when you want to settle down and do everything to succeed for the futureshe says.

Since 2020, she and her partner have been living in a cramped one-bedroom apartment in the city center, where they store a canoe above their bed to save space. They now want to find a larger home.

They hope to find a two-bedroom unit with outdoor space and a parking spot. They set a budget of $1500 to $3000 per month.

After viewing several apartments, Ms. Hobson admits to being discouraged by the difficulty of finding reasonably priced accommodation in the federal capital. Above all, she says she is surprised by the phenomenon of one-upmanship, which constantly thwarts the projects that she and her spouse cherish, even if they have a larger budget since they both work full time.

Ms Hobson said she is now considering giving up on her plans to move to a bigger apartment, although that will mean putting plans to have children or a dog on hold.

On the verge of eviction

Peggy Rafter is one of about two dozen tenants facing eviction from Manor Village in Nepean, where low-cost townhouses are to be renovated to make way for improved student housing.

Peggy Rafter has her photo taken in front of her residence.

Peggy Rafter has to move because her low-cost residence will be renovated to make way for upgraded student housing. Retired, she is unable to find comparable accommodation that fits her budget.

Photo: Courtesy: Peggy Rafter

A retired eldest, she has lived in her subsidized two-bedroom home for 30 years now, but has been asked to leave by the end of September.

It’s frightening. I will probably end up in a shelter, like other people hereshe says.

Ms. Rafter says she searches every day for a new place to live, but she can’t find anything comparable to her home that fits her budget.

She currently pays less than $1,200 a month for her home, which includes a finished basement, backyard, and utility costs.

So far, all of the similar units she’s found in Ottawa are renting for more than $2,000 a month, which is well beyond her budget.

It’s impossible for me or other tenants here to pay these prices for rentshe said.

Ms. Rafter worked with the local chapter of ACORN Canada, a community-based social justice organization, to challenge the eviction notice. She and the other tenants are awaiting a hearing date from the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board.

This retiree says her situation is not unique. She would therefore like to see strong measures taken to protect low-income people against the rising cost of housing. It also hopes that a better policy of controlling rents and redistributing unoccupied housing will be adopted.

Almost impossible find affordable housing

According to Meg McCallum, acting executive director of the Alliance to End Homelessness in Ottawa, the insufficient supply of rental housing in the federal capital is only one of the factors contributing to rising rents.

First of all, the rental stock is too small. And when people are looking for affordable housing, there is strong competitionshe explains.

According to data put forward by Ms. McCallum, about 34% of housing in Ottawa is rental housing, and less than half of it is affordable.

Newer units also fetch more, given rising construction costs.

Ironically, one of the measures used by the Bank of Canada to control inflation seems to exacerbate the problem, according to some observers. The Canadian Real Estate Association estimates that rising interest rates are pushing more and more people away from buying a home in favor of renting.

This situation creates pressure that is difficult for low-income families to absorb, notes Ms. McCallum.

There is an almost zero percent vacancy rate for affordable housing. […] For someone working for minimum wage, living on retirement or Ontario Works benefits, or receiving Ontario Disability Support payments, finding housing that matches their means is almost impossibleargues Ms. McCallum.

She is of the opinion that even a return to prizes normal would not be enough to solve the housing and homelessness problems in Ottawa, observable even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

With information from Safiyah Marhnouj, CBC

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