Ever wondered what your neighbour is paying for rent in your Toronto neighbourhood? A new rental registry in Ontario will satisfy that curiosity — and the entries may surprise you. Self-reported by tenants, submissions include a two-bedroom for $1,350 a month near Nathan Phillips Square a rare three-bedroom on Queen West for $2,000 and, for one unlucky renter, a one-bedroom for $3,500 in Yorkville.
The registry, created by the non-profit Vivre en Ville, the Smart Prosperity Institute and the University of Toronto, was unveiled as a strategy to combat the housing crisis in the province.
“By providing comprehensive insights into rental properties and their associated costs, the Registry empowers renters, policymakers, and stakeholders with the information needed to make informed decisions and navigate the complex rental housing landscape,” Adam Mongrain, director of housing at Vivre en Ville said in a statement.
As rents have been skyrocketing in cities across Ontario — in Toronto, the average rent for a one-bedroom hit $2,541 this month — the market has become even more precarious for tenants. This registry could offer renters a way to compare rents with people in the same neighbourhood, street or even building as them and understand if their rate is fair.
The Ford government implemented a new policy in 2018 that only applies rent control, which limits the rate at which a landlord can raise rents each year, to buildings lived in before Nov. 15, 2018. The new policy, along with vacancy decontrol — which allows landlords to raise rents by however much they’d like in between tenants — has resulted in drastically different rental rates across the province.
A new study by Vivre en Ville and research firm Angus Reid found that this problem is only getting worse: Ontario tenants who have moved in the last year saw their rent go up by an average of 34 per cent. Rents increased by an average of 29 per cent for tenants who moved in the last one to three years. Considering 47 per cent of Ontario tenants have been in their current place of residence for less than three years, these numbers paint a troubling picture of skyrocketing rental rates and vulnerable tenants who are constantly on the move.
Four out of 10 tenants received a notice of a rent increase in 2023 alone, and 15 per cent of tenants have received a notice to end their tenancy over the past five years. And a whopping one in five tenants in Ontario have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.
The Ontario registry comes after a launch of the same registry in Quebec, and has already filled up with thousands of reported rents. Though tenants can input their own rents, each submission requires an email and other verification details, along with there being a limit on the number of rents an individual can submit.
“The lack of proper data about the rental situation has made it difficult to deal with the housing crisis. Here in Toronto there are huge differences in rents and practices between different landlords and buildings. This rental registry will provide the valuable data we need to understand what is going on and come up with policies that address the underlying problems,” Dr. Alan Walks, a professor of geography at the University of Toronto and co-leader of the Affordable Housing Challenge, said in a statement.