Toronto real estate agents seem to agree that the rental market has slowed down this fall. But in the same breath, they note that a cooler market hasn’t put an end to outlandish living arrangements.
“You'd think for $950, for example, you'd be able to, at minimum, rent a room. But no, you're actually just renting space in a bed,” Ettinger explains.
“I'm seeing a lot of rental properties that are being advertised to international students and newcomers, which look like they're very poorly maintained. They say they're fully furnished but the furniture is essentially just a mattress on the ground.”
Ettinger emphasizes that prices for such shared accommodations have spiked.
According to the latest data from Rentals.ca and Urbanation, rents for roommate accommodations in Toronto hit $1,312 last month. Although that’s certainly a lofty price point, roommate rentals come at a discount when you consider that the average asking rent across all unit types in the city clocked in at $2,908 last month.
“So, by proxy, I suppose you could call [roommate arrangements] affordable, but for someone who's coming here with not a lot and without too many options, having to spend $700, $800 to rent a room where all you get is a mattress on the floor feels kind of ridiculous,” says Ettinger.
“But the thing is, the housing situation in the city is so dire that someone will rent it. No matter how ridiculous these places are, there is someone that needs somewhere to live and they only have $600 or $700 or $800 a month to spend."
A quick glance at any rental platform reveals that what Ettinger is describing is something of a trend. A new posting on Facebook Marketplace is seeking “a female to share one bedroom and bathroom,” and also notes that the other bedroom in the 753-sq.-ft unit is currently being occupied by two males. Photos of the available room show a mattress on the floor. Another recent listing offers a twin bed within a small shared bedroom for $600 a month.
Harishan Thaskaran, an agent with Strata, agrees that group rental arrangements are on the rise in the Toronto area. More specifically, he’s seeing couples “teaming up” with other couples and friends joining forces in order to make ends meet.
“Right now, I'm actually working with someone and she wants to see a place and she's fully aware that it will be a shared accommodation… there's a senior living in the other room,” he says.
“It's sad. It's honestly very sad. And it's going to be interesting in the future to see what this kind of crowding will do, especially in terms of quality of living.”
On top of all of that, Thaskaran says that surging mortgage rates are forcing some homeowners into the rental market — though not in the way you might expect.
“I'm starting to see people move into the basement of their own home and rent out the rest,” he says. “Either that or people are using their savings to spruce up the basement to get it up to code, and then they’re renting it out to get some supplementary income.”