Average rent in Hamilton is nearly $1,100 as vacancies drop below 10-year average
'It was discouraging. The prices are too high and the vacancy rate isn't high enough'
The average rent in Hamilton rose to nearly $1,100 in 2018 — a sum one affordable housing advocate says is out of reach for too many people.
The CMHC Rental Report for the Hamilton CMA, which includes Burlington and Grimsby, found the average cost of rent was $1,077 in October 2018.
The overall vacancy rate was 3.1 per cent during the same period, which is below the 10-year average for the area.
"The cost of rent is quite high and it's starting to be out of reach for a lot of people," said Mike Wood, chair of Hamilton ACORN, who said he's seen some listings for one-bedroom apartments top $1,600.
"People are getting stressed, there's anxiety. I've had a hospital reach out to me to say they've had tenants in their emergency rooms very upset with their living conditions and wanting to give up."
You don't always get what you want
Mark Anderson knows the stress of finding housing firsthand.
In late October, the 52-year-old was told the home he'd been living in was up for sale. He had one month to find a new place and move out.
"I started out looking for a bachelor or a one-bedroom before realizing the prices were too high."
Anderson is on ODSP and said he quickly realized the rental rates were "ridiculous'" for a single person in his position to pay and still have something left over for food.
After spending hours online scrolling through ads and sending out messages without a reply he gave up looking for a place of his own and settled for a single room with a shared bathroom and kitchen.
"It was discouraging. Everybody goes in with an idea of what they want, but you're not going to get that. The prices are too high and the vacancy rate isn't high enough."
Vacancy rate predicted to remain low
CHMC senior analyst Anthony Passarelli pointed to mortgage rule changes and rate increases as obstacles blocking renters from buying their first home, along with immigration as two factors that driving high rental demand in the area.
|Type||Vacancy Rate||Average Rent|
|Three or more bedrooms||5.6%||$1,373|
He noted the vacancy rate is forecast to remain low in 2019, while the average rent will stay above $1,000.
"The strong rent growth is a function of the low vacancy rate," he explained. "When there's few units out there to rent and the landlord is sort of in the driver's seat … there's a lot of competition and that drives up the rents."
Renters not getting more for their money
Wood says ACORN has been pushing the government for a national affordable housing strategy to combat climbing costs.
The organization has no problem with landlords making a living, he added, but he's noticed renters aren't getting more for their money.
Wood said despite the rising costs of housing, renters are still reporting the same problems as when they were paying less.
"The attitude doesn't change when it comes to how the rental is looked after," he explained. "I still see the same heating issues, repair issues, they're still suffering even at higher amounts."