New luxury rental building features an infinity pool, but can you afford to live there?
Housing experts welcome designated rental building, but say Toronto is lacking affordable options
If you think of amenities such as an infinity pool, yoga studio, daycare and a dog run, they're usually associated with a luxury condominium. But in this case, the extras are all inside a Liberty Village highrise that's dedicated to renters.
Located on King Street West and Atlantic Avenue, the Kings Club development features 506 rental units and opens this fall. The prices range from $1,810 for a 400-square-foot bachelor, to $3,280 for a three-bedroom unit.
"People are choosing to rent," said Trish MacPherson, the executive vice president of CAPREIT, the company that will manage the building.
"We're becoming New York. In New York there isn't the expectation of home ownership. I think that's happening in Toronto; people are realizing there's a lot of advantages to renting … no need to carry a mortgage."
Rooftop has an unobstructed view of the city
MacPherson says the prices are competitive and geared towards young professionals, roommates or a young family.
Elliott Altilia works at Sid Lee, a well-known advertising agency along Queen Street West. He fits the profile of the young professional that Kings Club is hoping to attract.
When he saw the 640-square-foot unit priced at $2,400 a month, he thought that was too high.
"Even $1,500 for a single-bedroom apartment is not responsible. It's way out of reach for most people," said Altilia. "How do you save?"
Altilia and his girlfriend moved from Montreal to Toronto nearly two years ago. In Montreal they were paying $850 a month for a 1,500-square-foot apartment.
'It's way out of reach for most people'
Housing experts say the reason why Montreal is able to keep its rents low, is because the Quebec government prioritizes housing.
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"In Quebec, the provincial government continued to make investments in affordable housing … whereas in Ontario the government hasn't played that role and left it up to the private market to make decisions," said Margie Carlson, the deputy executive director of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.
The average rent in Toronto for a one-bedroom apartment is nearly $2,000 a month and real estate broker Andrew Ipekian says that's because the condo market is still booming.
In today's market, Ipekian says a one bedroom condo sells for around $500,000. Even if the buyer puts down the required 20 per cent down payment, mortgage and maintenance fees could be too much for them to handle.
"You need at least $2,400 to carry the condo," said Ipekian. "Plus there are costs that can come up. In a rental you don't have to worry about that. Buildings [like Kings Club] have a property manager on site to deal with all kinds of unexpected repairs."
Are the right type of rentals being built?
The Kings Club development is one of a few rental projects opening up this year that will add hundreds of rental units to a strained market. Even though housing experts welcome the news, they don't think the additions are going in the right direction.
"We know those kind of rentals are not affordable to the average Torontonian who only makes $78,000 a year," said Simone Swail with the Co-op Housing Federation.
Swail points to new figures that came out earlier this week from the Canadian Rental Housing Index (CRHI).
The CRHI figures showed that one in five renters in Toronto is spending 50 per cent or more of their income on rent. To live comfortably, Swail says that number should be closer to 30 per cent.
Both Swail and Carlson believe the government should focus on creating one bedroom apartments that go for $1,000 a month.
"We really need to see housing across the entire spectrum and that means enough new affordable housing being built," said Swail.