Rental prices soar in Alberta and Saskatchewan

Rental markets in these provinces outpace national averages

Rental prices soar in Alberta and Saskatchewan

The affordability crisis for Canadian renters continues to worsen – and it’s particularly bad in two provinces.

Nationally, the average asking rent for a home in Canada in March was up 8.8% compared to a year ago, but down 0.6% from the previous month, according to a new report by Urbanation.

The average asking rent last month was $2,181, with one-bedroom units averaging $1,915 (up 11.3% year-over-year) and two-bedrooms averaging $2,295 (up 10.6%).

Purpose-built rental apartments experienced the sharpest price hikes, with asking rents climbing 12.7% year over year to an average of $2,117. Condominium apartment rents were slightly less steep, averaging $2,321, a 3.9% increase from March 2023.

Regional growth

While the national numbers showed a slight monthly decline, some regions continued to see rapid rental growth.

Renters in Alberta and Saskatchewan are facing the most dramatic affordability challenges.  Alberta posted an 18.3% increase in average asking rents compared to the previous year, reaching $1,728.  Saskatchewan wasn’t far behind, with an 18.2% jump to $1,297.

Ontario had the second-highest average asking rents last month, up 0.4% from March 2023 to $2,410.

On the other hand, British Columbia experienced a 1.9% year-over-year decline in average asking rents for purpose-built and condominium apartments, reaching $2,494. Ontario followed with a modest 0.4% year-over-year increase to $2,410.

On a city level, average asking rents in Vancouver moved down 4.9% to $2,993 last month, marking the first time since July 2022 that they have fallen below the $3,000 level. Toronto’s average rental prices also declined 1.3% to $2,782, representing the third consecutive month of annual rent declines.

The strongest rent growth among Canada’s largest cities was in Edmonton, reaching an average of $1,507 in March — a 15.9% gain from the same month in 2023.

Federal support

This rising cost-of-living has prompted federal initiatives to ease the burden on renters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced a renters’ bill of rights that aims to enhance transparency and fairness in rental pricing.

Read more: Trudeau proposes reforms for renters as housing crisis deepens

Among other measures, the legislation intends to ensure landlords provide a clear apartment pricing history and consider rental payment history in credit assessments, which could benefit first-time homebuyers.

“Renters deserve credit for the money they put toward rent over the years, especially when it comes time to apply for a mortgage for their first home,” Trudeau said in a statement.

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