Ontario Cities Among the Safest and Housing Affordability Challenges Spread

This week’s top real estate stories.

By  Jared Lindzon | 2 minute read

Jul 7

Wahi's Week in Real Estate

Every Friday, Wahi brings you the most important real estate stories from the past week.

One Step Towards Affordability After a Marathon in the Opposite Direction  

Housing costs remain off the charts in Canada, but like a squirt gun in a five-alarm blaze, the first quarter of the year brought some relief, albeit minor. According to a report by RBC, the rate hike pause and slower market conditions brought home ownership costs down 1.6%, the first decline in almost three years. According to the report, Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto enjoyed the most price relief but it doesn’t mince words, calling it a “small comfort” amidst a “full-blown affordability crisis,” where “incredibly challenging conditions persist,” especially in Canada’s major cities. 

“Ontario might not be the most affordable place to live in Canada, but it is the safest.”

Ontario Caps Rent Increases Below Inflation

Tenants were hoping to see a rent hike pause. Landlords were hoping to see an increase that matched the 5.9% increase in annual inflation. In the end, the province chose to split the difference when it announced a 2.5% cap on the rent increase allowance for 2024. The figure represents the maximum amount landlords can hike rents next year without approval from the Landlord and Tenant Board and applies to any rental unit in the province occupied before November 15, 2018. Landlords can only increase rents every 12 months and must provide written notice 90 days prior.

Ontario Is Home to Canada’s Safest Cities   

Ontario might not be the most affordable place to live in Canada, but it is the safest. That’s according to a recent study conducted by housing rental platform Rentola, which considered factors like crime rates and solve rates, police force size and resources, emergency response systems and community engagement activities. In the end, Ontario got top marks compared to the other provinces and was home to eight of the top 10 safest cities. Topping the list was Barrie, followed by Brantford and Guelph, with Toronto in fourth. Belleville, Windsor, St. Catharines, and Kitchener also made the top 10.     

Canada’s Out-of-Office Notification 

Canada has a record amount of space for rent, but only for businesses. According to a bombshell report by commercial real estate firm CBRE,  the national office vacancy rate hit 18.1% in the second quarter of the year — an almost 30-year high — thanks to economic uncertainty, interest rate hikes, tech layoffs, remote work, and an increase in supply. Most Canadians would love to see some of that 17 million square feet of empty office space used to address housing supply challenges, but experts warn most office buildings aren’t able to support anything other than work. 

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There’s Nowhere Left to Run From Housing Affordability Challenges in Ontario  

Once contained to major cities, Ontario’s housing affordability crisis has since spread to other parts of the province. According to a new report from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), communities of all sizes are now at crisis levels. The Chamber says major cities like Toronto and Hamilton have been plagued by housing costs that far exceed income levels for quite some time, but as remote work enabled priced-out citizens to bid up homes elsewhere, the contagion spread province-wide. With housing starts lagging, the OCC is backing some unconventional solutions like modular construction, 3D printed homes, retrofitting vacant offices, and inclusionary zoning.

Jared Lindzon

Wahi Writer

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