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Toronto condo rent surges as housing prices soar

Toronto condo rents were up about 12 per cent at the end of 2016, according to real estate market research firm Urbanation.

Paying big bucks for a tiny condo? You're not alone.

File / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Paying big bucks for a tiny condo? You're not alone.

Toronto is officially more unaffordable than ever if you’re looking to rent a condo.

Average condo rents jumped about 12 per cent at the end of 2016 (to about $2,000), compared to the same period the previous year, according to new numbers from real estate market research firm Urbanation.

“This is not only the highest rate that we’ve recorded, but also it’s a pretty significant acceleration from what the market has become used to,” said Shaun Hildebrand, the company’s senior vice-president.

Toronto’s sky-high prices are “still a far cry from Manhattan or London, but they are approaching places like Brooklyn and are far higher than cities like Chicago,” said Richard Florida, director of cities at the Martin Prosperity Institute.

“People keep saying it’s a bubble that will pop and maybe it will. But if people keep flooding into Toronto from around Canada and across the globe, demand for space in and around downtown Toronto will continue to grow,” he added.

Paul Kershaw, a University of British Columbia professor who has studied the issue in Vancouver, said he sees similar trends in both “hotspots” with soaring real estate prices “going hand-in-hand with dramatic increases in the rent.”

Kershaw, founder of Generation Squeeze, which advocates for young Canadians, promotes solutions such as changing residential zoning laws to allow for more density, taxing homeowners more and even giving younger people tax breaks to help with rent or mortgage payments.

Otherwise, he says, we risk “pricing out” an entire generation.

“We could say a new demographic needs a new kind of help,” he said.

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