When July 1st rolls around in Montreal, so do numerous moving trucks. Moving day in the city is very stressful for many people – and at this time of the year with the heat and traffic, it can become a nerve-wracking experience. But at least they have a place waiting for them. Unfortunately, there are those who have been unable to find a place to live and they are sitting in limbo, desperately trying to find a place to call home as there are very few apartments now available to them. Montreal used have enough housing options with reasonably priced rent to choose from, but that all has changed. The city is now facing its lowest vacancy rates in 20 years.
Montreal rental properties
Studies show that in 2014 the vacancy rate for a typical 3 bedroom apartment was at 3.4%, but by 2018 it dropped to only 1.9% and this year it dropped to 0.8%. According to the renter’s rights group FRAPRU, as of last week, just days before leases were set to expire on July 1st, approximately 106 Montreal families and 220 families across Quebec were not able to find a place to move into – and it is mostly those with lower-incomes facing this problem.
Rent prices have also gone up significantly, as some landlords now find themselves in a position to increase their prices, subsequently making apartments beyond reach for many. A typical two-bedroom apartment in Montreal has gone from around $800-900 a month up to approximately $1200.
Airbnb hotels have effected the market
Most of the increases are being attributed to a lack of social housing, as well as apartment buildings being converted to Airbnb hotels – estimated to have pulled 4,500 units off the market. Add in the dozens of condo developments going up in Montreal, catering to the higher-income groups, and the reality for those searching for an affordable place is even more challenging. It is becoming a crisis and tenant rights groups are calling for tougher rental control action from the Quebec government. And although the government announced $272 million towards new social housing in their 2018 budget, the projects are falling behind and it will be at least several years until they are completed. It is a situation needing to be urgently addressed.