renting a house

Here's how the pandemic will forever change renting a house or apartment in Canada

Renting a house in Canada could look very different in the future as a result of the pandemic, according to a new study.

A new study from Rentals.ca shows that our values are already shifting; more people care about renting a home near grocery stores (13.5 per cent increase since January) and less about being close to transit links (14 per cent decrease).

Will these changes last? Only time will tell.

Still, the study has made some educated guesses as to what the future of renting in Canada could look like  — and here's what's on the list.

Virtual tours will take off

No need to break out your best pair of dress shoes; an increasing number of house tours will likely be conducted via FaceTime, Facebook Live, or Zoom in the near future.

"Using these virtual tools allows the renters to view dozens of properties in a few hours that would normally take a couple of days," the study says.

If renters like the look of the house online, they can request an in-person tour — and save the landlords the hassle of having to show around less serious prospects.

There will be more friction between landlords and tenants

As the study points out, Canadian landlords and tenants have plenty of reasons to be at each other's throats once the pandemic is over.

Between the planned April and May rent strikes, the ban on evictions, mounting job losses and uncertainty over whether tenants can opt out of rent, things have the potential to get ugly, and fast.

Renters will be more hesitant to move

Canadian renters won't be chomping at the bit to move houses in the next few weeks, but it will happen eventually.

"People don't tend to move much during recessions, and especially not during pandemics, when we are isolating at home and focused on safety and sanity," the study says.

"When the worst is over, moving vans will start rolling again as optimism gets us moving again. Most moves will only be delayed during this bleak time."

Rental prices will drop

Well, kind of, anyway. Because of the pandemic, Canada will have less immigration, fewer international students and not nearly as many seasonal and part-time workers, resulting in fewer renters and more supply.

Rents could therefore slide in the next year — but not for everyone.

"Affordable housing in most big cities is hard to find," the study says. "Now add people in quarantine, not moving, and a freeze on evictions — and affordable housing tightens up even more."

Rents could fall by the end of the year, but the affordable housing crisis will likely continue.

The will be more long-term rentals

With concerts, weddings, food festivals, rodeos and pretty much every event in Canada being cancelled, nobody really wants to stay anywhere for just a few days anymore.

If that trend continues past the summer, many short-term rentals in urban areas might be forced to extend their rental periods.

"The longer short-term rentals in the larger cities remain vacant, the sooner their owners could put them back into long-term rental stock," Danison says.

In some cities, Airbnb hosts are already banned from offering short-term rentals — so it wouldn't be surprising if the trend continues.

Everything will be getting cleaned

Remember when a Vancouver man spit on elevator buttons in an apartment complex and horrified all of Canada?

Rental companies are going to avoid incidents like that in future by sanitizing the whole building.

"Think door handles, door knobs, light switches, elevator buttons, restrooms, laundry rooms, stair railings, common areas, mailboxes, exercise equipment and gyms, work spaces — any surface or thing that hands touch a lot,"the study says.

If it can be cleaned, it will be.

Apartment buildings will get coworking spaces

An overwhelming number of Canadians are working from home these days, and although many can't wait to get back to chatting with colleagues and raiding the office tea supply, not everyone will be keen to return to the office.

The study says that coworking spaces in apartment buildings could become more popular since they offer a "happy medium" between home and the office.

"Coworking spaces in apartment buildings allow you to separate your work life from your home life — and you're close enough to home to have lunch there and let the dog out," the study says.

Overall, the study suggests the rental landscape in Canada will show a renewed sense of "character, creativity and community" after the pandemic ends.

"Think back to the 2008 'Great' recession or even to 1929 Great Depression," the study reads. "Entrepreneurs and creative companies will come together with innovative solutions. Count on it."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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