Toronto landlords are offering free rent to try and convince people to stay in the city

Renting an apartment in Toronto is coming with more and more perks as landlords struggle to fill their vacant listings.

Scroll through some rental websites for Toronto condos and apartments, and you’ll see ads with move-in incentives, a trend that’s proliferated over the course of the pandemic as vacancies go up and rent prices in Toronto go way down.

Some properties, like a building on Castle Frank, are offering one month rent free. A Spadina Road listing one-ups that by offering free rent until March, plus one year of free internet.

apartments rent toronto

Toronto’s landlords are offering more move-in incentives to combat rising vacancies. Photo via Realtor.ca.

Then there’s the Avenue Road building trying to lure in tenants with the first month free on a one-bedroom, 13-month lease — plus a $200 gift card.

There are other perks, like cash backs or skipping the last month’s rent deposit. These tactics aren’t new, but they are becoming increasingly popular.

Previously relegated to apartments further from the downtown core, move-in incentives are now common for newer units, especially expensive, luxury ones downtown. 

Listings website Rentals.ca started to see more move-in incentives being advertised on its site around April and May of last year, says the company’s Content Director, Paul Danison.

apartments rent toronto

COVID-19 has affected the real estate market to the advantage of tenants looking for more affordable options than last year. Photo via Rentals.ca.

“The overall driving factor has been the COVID-19 pandemic which has had a ripple effect on the rental market, especially Toronto and the GTA,” says Danison.

“Because of the pandemic, supply has increased and demand decreased.”

The Toronto and GTA have “essentially become renters’ markets,” he says.

Immigration has all but stopped, international students have gone back abroad, college and university students are taking their courses online, and renters are down-sizing or moving back in with their families.

apartments rent toronto

Landlords will probably continue to offer move-in intentives into the future, predicts Realtor.ca

And though Toronto is in a middle of an affordable housing crisis, new, pricey units continue to enter the market.

“Landlord and property managers are responding to the new market and promoting their units,” says Danison.

There’s no evidence that incentives do a good job in enticing potential renters, Danison says. But whether landlords continue to offer move-in perks in the future depends on how effectively a COVID-19 vaccine could change Toronto’s rental landscape.

“We see move-in incentives potentially going into 2022, as it will take some time for demand to catch up to supply.” 

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