Toronto·Jane and Finch

Residents fear they're 'being squeezed out' of Jane and Finch due to skyrocketing rents

Skyrocketing rental prices have led to unease among residents of the Jane and Finch area — once regarded as a community with some of the most affordable apartments and condominiums in Toronto.

Increases hurting residents, many of whom are low-income earners, real estate agent says

Anna-Kay Brown says new condos and the Finch West light rail transit line are some of the factors driving rents up. (CBC)

Skyrocketing rental prices have led to unease among residents of the Jane and Finch area — once regarded as a community with some of the city's most affordable apartments and condominiums.

Anna-Kay Brown, an affordable housing advocate, says the development of new condos and the Finch West light rail transit line are some of the key factors driving rents up.

"[The] majority of the folks that live in this community are the ones who are working precarious jobs. Oftentimes, that's coming with little increase in their wages [or] benefits and also limits their ability to take sick days off," Brown told CBC Toronto.

"So, when they're also facing a rent increase due to new developments coming into the community or a major transportation infrastructure like a Finch West LRT, those are the small guys who oftentimes are facing the difficulty of food or rent [who are] also being squeezed out of the community."

A quick search of available units in Jane and Finch show multiple one-bedroom units listed for at least $1,900 per month. Meanwhile, data from last month shows that the average rent for condos and apartments in Glenfield-Jane Heights was nearly $2,200 a month — up more than $300 from a year ago. In Black Creek, there's been a nearly $500 increase since September 2019.

A quick check by CBC Toronto has found that landlords are asking more than $1,900 per month for a renovated, one-bedroom apartment in the Jane-Finch area. (CBC)

Brown — a community benefit coordinator at Jane and Finch Family Centre — says she has been hearing from numerous people who are being priced out, adding some have told her that in the next two years, they know for sure that they will not be able to live in the Jane and Finch community.

"They've already started to see the conversations with management for their buildings," she said.

"Your rent is going $300-$400 up just because you have a nice fancy LRT in your community [and] you can't enjoy it … you've endured four-five years of construction but most likely you're not going to be able to enjoy the benefits of it."

Rent control needed, Brown says

Brown says "rent control" is "definitely needed," although she adds there are always "loopholes" that "a lot of these big corporations that have the time, have the money, have the lawyers, have all the dollars" take advantage of.

She says renters also need to start looking at tenants' associations and start to organize themselves, while the city and the government need to do more about what rent control looks like. 

About the developments happening in the Jane and Finch area, Brown said "what we're really advocating for is equity, is to be a part of the conversation on [what] does redevelopment look like in [our] community and how it impacts [us].

Real estate agent Tina Reali says one of her clients got outbid by $600 for an apartment and there were 17 offers on it. (CBC)

Real estate agent Tina Reali says the average price for a two-bedroom apartment in the area five years ago was around $1,400 or $1,500.

She agrees with Brown that the rent increases are making it difficult for residents, many of whom are low-income earners and newcomers to Canada.

"There are offer nights on leases right now, which never really happened. People are getting outbid by hundreds of dollars and …[having] a lot of difficulty finding housing that's affordable"

Bidding wars

According to Reali, bidding wars have become quite common in the neighbourhood.

"One of my clients got outbid by $600 in this nearby area, and there were 17 offers on the property."

But, she says, many renters in the Jane and Finch area have no choice but to stay there.

"A lot of people that do rent out in this area are from this area and they don't want to move, and this is the most affordable area to be," she said.

"I mean if you want to go to Vaughan, the prices [will rise.] If you want to go to Toronto, the price is hiked. So, they're really not left with much choice but to be here," Reali added.

"So, you have all the way from single mothers to families to international students ... A lot are in this area because of York University, but even those students that are getting monthly income to be here are getting outbid and don't have places to stay."

Jane and Finch resident Joseph Henry describes the skyrocketing rent increases as 'crazy.' (CBC)

The rent increases in the area are "crazy," says Joseph Henry, a Jane and Finch resident.

"I'm always thinking about what's going to happen in the future, not just in the [Jane and Finch] community, but ... the entirety of Toronto," he said.

Henry says the problem of rising rents is "something that needs to be looked at more, and we have to do something about it."

Turab Razvi welcomes both the LRT and new condo developments, but is worried current residents may not be the ones to benefit. (CBC)

Meanwhile, resident Turab Razvi welcomes both the LRT and new condo developments, but worries that current residents may not be the ones to benefit from them.

"People do need transportation. As long as it's affordable, I agree with it, he said.

"But the condos, if it doesn't cater to the community, then it's not really any good because it's going to drive out the people of the community to another place, which will create the same issue in another area."

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Desmond Brown

Web Writer / Editor

Desmond joined CBC News in October 2017. He previously worked with The Associated Press, Caribbean Media Corporation and Inter Press Service. You can reach him at:

With files from Dale Manucdoc and Kadiatu Barrie