If Toronto's loosened restrictions aren’t enough of an indication that the city is coming back to life again after the pandemic, the rental market certainly is. 

The average rent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in January was $2,200 per month, an annual increase of 11.5% over the January 2021 average of $1,972 per month and a monthly increase of 2.4%, according to the latest Bullpen Research & Consulting and TorontoRentals.com Toronto GTA Rent Report.  

The climbing rents are consistent with the trend we’ve seen in the city for most of the past year.

The average asking rent for all property types in the GTA has increased month over month for nine out of the last 10 months. A dip in December most likely reflects a typical seasonal decline seen in the rental market, as opposed to fears about the Omicron variant, according to the report. 

Ontario Housing Summit - GTA home salesGTA Homes/Shutterstock

Average rents declined every month between December 2019 and March 2021 with the average rent in the GTA going from a high of $2,460 in November 2019 to a low of $1,972 in March 2021, when the city remained paralyzed in its never-ending lockdown.

Of the GTA regions, Toronto had the highest average rent in January for condo rentals and apartments at $2,444 per month -- an annual increase of 17.7%. Many of the postal codes in the GTA with higher average monthly rents tend to be closer to the downtown Toronto core, while postal codes with lower average monthly rents tend to be in more suburban areas, highlights the report.

But that doesn't mean price increases didn’t leave other parts of the GTA rental market untouched. 

Three other GTA cities and areas with relatively high January average monthly rates for condo rentals and apartments are: Richmond Hill, $2,246, up 14.1% year over year; Vaughan, $2,225, up 23.2% and Etobicoke, $2,220, up 13.9%. Mississauga average rent in January was $2,142, up 14.5% annually, and Brampton average rent was 42,036, up 14.5%.   

East York had the lowest average monthly rent for condo rentals and apartments at $1,917 with an annual increase of 4.5%. Scarborough also had a lower average monthly rental rate at $1,926 per month with an annual increase of 2.7%. 

“The early pandemic shutdown and fear sent many tenants out of the expensive old Toronto area, with many students moving back home; while the usual wave of new residents didn’t come, sending rents plummeting,” said Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research & Consulting. “The post-vaccine era has seen rents come back quickly, especially investor-held condos, where suites are $500 to $600 more expensive than a year earlier in Toronto and Mississauga, with certain neighbourhoods seeing annual growth in average rents of 20 per cent to 30 per cent.” 

GTA NeighbourhoodsTORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 15, 2014: A view of Downtown Toronto in an overcast day of Winter. Downtown Toronto has prominent buildings in a variety of styles by many famous architects.

Toronto also had the highest average monthly rents for apartments in January at $2,184, a year-over-year increase of 12.8%, following a big decline of 17.4% in January 2021.  

Other GTA cities and areas with annual increases in average monthly apartment rents include: Oakville at $2,100, up 11% after being down 23% in January 2021; Burlington at $2,054, up 9.1%; Etobicoke at $1,964, up 4.9%; Mississauga at $1,955, up 3.1%; Markham at $1,948, up 10.6% and Brampton at $1,870, up 6.2%. Meanwhile, Oshawa average monthly apartment rents actually declined by 5.3% year over year to $1,738.

The craving more space continues, especially as many employees are still working from home, at least on a part-time basis. According to the report, average rent for two-bedroom units and three-bedroom units in the GTA increased more than 10% year over year.

Meanwhile, the average monthly rent for a single-family home increased 23% in January to $2,961 over the January 2021 average of $2,404. The average monthly rent for a condo rental rose 21% in January to $2,483, over the January 2021 average of $2,050. Mississauga had the largest annual increase in average monthly rent for condo rentals, rising 31% to $2,736 in January from $2,089 in January 2021.

Toronto’s average monthly rent for condo rentals rose to $2,532 in January from $2,077 in January 2021. Other GTA cities and areas with increasing average rents year over year for condo apartments were: Etobicoke, $2,498 from $1,970; Scarborough, $2,293 from $1,954.

Year-over-year average rents increased for 11 selected condo projects in Toronto from a dramatically high of 38.3% at No. 1 Yorkville; 37.7% at Harbour Plaza – East Tower, and 36.1% at Playground Condos at Garrison Point to a low of 9.5% Fuse 2.

These condos are all exempt from rent controls that set the allowed increase at 1.2%. New residential apartment buildings, condos, or houses that were occupied for the first time as of November 15, 2018 are not rent controlled.