Canada’s one stop platform and the #1 National voice to the rental housing industry


Posted in Housing

Would it be safe to say that shelter is a fundamental right? Or are we talking about housing as a functional asset class with increasingly valuable secondary benefits?

Are those two notions mutually exclusive or can they ever be one and the same?

Following several decades of a can’t-stop-won’t-stop bull run on housing prices, consensus seems to be divided on whether housing must be viewed first and foremost as homes for people, or if that belief has been undermined by the inescapable fact that over the last several generations housing has functioned as an incredible wealth-building commodity.

The consequence of this reality, with both property values and average rents skyrocketing nationwide over the past several years, seems to now be that many Canadians have found themselves priced out of not just the dream of homeownership, but also rental housing, leaving many to ask what it is that we’re doing here.

While it certainly felt at times like everyone and their mother was snapping up investment properties during the pandemic frenzy, a recent report by the Canadian Housing Statistics Program reveals that investors indeed played a significant role in the price acceleration we witnessed.

It turns out that more than 40% of condos in Ontario are now investment properties, comprising about half of the condos built between 2016 and 2020.

Furthermore, their findings revealed one in five property owners to be investors, defined as an owner who owns at least one residential property not used as their primary place of residence.

Housing advocates are quick to point out that in this age of chronic and debilitating supply insufficiency and outrageous unaffordability, allowing investors to drive up prices as they gobble up housing that could, would, and should be homes for Canadians is unconscionable.

But how might one reconcile that take with the reality that Canada basically stopped incentivizing the construction of purpose-built rental housing back in the 70s? Our population has ballooned yet new rental housing has stagnated.

Not all Canadians are in a position to own their own home. Not all even wish to own their home. For a whole host of reasons, renting can often be more suitable.

While the religion of home ownership dominates in this country, the ethos is markedly different elsewhere, particularly in many European countries where government-funded purpose-built rental housing is plentiful. The result is stability for tenants, who never need to worry about having their home sold out from under them or rents abruptly skyrocketing.

This is very much the result of our government abdicating its responsibility to ensure sufficient housing supply, instead relying on the free markets to close the gaps. The result is now a clear commodification of housing supply that has created an impossible situation.

Yet these investors it’s become cool to disparage are quite literally providing Canadians the housing our government hasn’t.

It is very clear our leaders know how vital the role an individual investor plays in ensuring supply, which is why in 2018 rent control was deregulated to ensure profitability and viability. If it wasn’t profitable for investors to own rental properties, investors would take their capital elsewhere and supply would diminish. We need them.

For anyone bothering to pay attention, there is almost a straight line between government decisions to disincentivize the construction of rental housing through CMHC programs and the situation we find ourselves facing today.

Is it idealistic to think the programs that were born out of the last epic Canadian real estate crash might be dusted off and repurposed anew? Our government can take all of the money earmarked for solving the housing crisis and invest it the construction industries affected by the current downturn. Incentivize them to navigate their way through this tumultuous time with a clear mandate: getting shovels in the ground and rental housing built not a moment too soon.

As Canada’s housing affordability and homelessness crisis tightens its grip, these are the conversations we need to be having.


Story by: Ottawa Sun