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Is the competitive rental market pushing Torontonians out of the city?

Rising housing and rent prices and the use of services like Airbnb for short-term rentals have made renting in the city a lot tougher, say two Torontonians who feel like they've been pushed out of the city they love.

'I thought I was going to raise my family there,' says one woman who has moved to Oakville

Andrea Bradley and her family are renting a townhouse in Oakville for the same price as a two bedroom apartment in Toronto. (Andrea Bradley)

Rising housing and rent prices and the use of services like Airbnb for short-term rentals have made renting in the city a lot tougher, according to two Torontonians who feel like they've been pushed out of the city they love. 

"There aren't a lot of options when it comes to renting," Lori Johnston, a therapist who is considering leaving Toronto for a more affordable community, told CBC's Metro Morning.

"It's a very, very difficult job to try to find a place because there's so few and the ones that are available are very expensive."

The apartment vacancy rate in Toronto is around 1.6 per cent, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. 

Factoring in the number of units that are being used for short-term rentals like Airbnb, that number drops even lower, according to Toronto realtor and property coach Alexandra Cote.

The result? A highly competitive rental market and desperate bids on apartments and homes that have little to offer. 

That's what drove Andrea Bradley and her family to move to Oakville. 

Alexandra Cote, a Toronto realtor, says bidding wars are becoming more and more common with rentals. (CBC News)

Bradley and her husband, who is a teacher, are now renting a townhouse for the same price as a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto. 

"It's pretty disappointing. I've been there for 10 years," she said Thursday on Metro Morning. "I thought I was going to raise my family there."

The only way Bradley and her family of four would be able to rent a home or apartment in Toronto, she said, is if they settled on a place so far from the subway line that "they might as well be in the suburbs."

Average rent for one-bedroom condo is $1,789

Cote said renting is becoming so competitive in the city that bidding wars are slowly becoming the norm for rental units. 

The average rent, according to Cote, is $1,789 per month for a one-bedroom condo in central Toronto. 

Cote said she had 20 showings over a period of 48 hours for a unit she recently listed that was located close to Lake Shore Boulevard and Bathurst Street. The unit was a 450-square-foot studio condo with no balcony or parking.

"I rented the same unit last year around the same time and we probably had the number of showings but over two weeks," she told Metro Morning on Wednesday.

Four people were interested in putting an offer on the unit this year compared to just one offer last year, Cote added. 

Evicted for Airbnb

​Johnston shared a story with Metro Morning about her recent eviction from an apartment she lived in for five years in Parkdale.

"Without much notice my landlord gave me an eviction notice. Her message was that she wanted to take back the unit for her own personal use, which is perfectly understandable," Johnston said.

"Ironically and shockingly she sent me an email with her posting of my old apartment on Airbnb asking me if I would help her market it."

Johnston said she knew about her rights as a tenant but she had never gone through this particular experience.

Toronto's loss?

Both Johnston and Bradley said Toronto is at risk of losing talented young people because it's so un-affordable.

"I've had friends move to Hamilton, Guelph. These are artists and writers and those communities are thriving," Johnston said. "All of those places are gaining and Toronto is losing." 

Bradley also said she is seeing surrounding communities prosper because people prefer to live there instead of Toronto. 

"I think Oakville is changing a lot. My street is extremely diverse. There's restaurants opening up around us that wouldn't have existed before," she said. "Other communities are gaining what Toronto is losing."

With files from Metro Morning