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Announcement of a New Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights

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On March 27, 2024, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that there would be measures coming out in Budget 2024 aimed at helping renters and making it easier for them to become homeowners. The 2024 federal budget will be presented on April 16th.

He unveiled some key initiatives, which include the introduction of a new $15 million Tenant Protection Fund to bolster legal aid and tenant advocacy efforts, protecting tenants against unjust rent hikes, exploitative landlords, and “renovictions”. A renoviction is a tactic where a landlord will evict a tenant, claiming to be completing major renovations, but using this as a way to significantly raise rent before finding a new tenant.

There are plans to develop and implement a new Canadian Renters’ Bill of Rights, in collaboration with provinces and territories. This would mandate a transparent disclosure of pricing, as landlords would need to provide a clear history of apartment pricing, so renters can bargain fairly. This Bill of Rights would also help prevent renovictions. A nationwide, standardized lease agreement would also be established. The overall goal would be empowering renters.

Another key change will be an amendment of the Canadian Mortgage Charter to ensure recognition of on-time rent payments, pushing for including rental histories in credit assessments for mortgage applications, with a call on landlords, banks, credit bureaus, and fintech companies to enact this change. This ensures a fairer treatment of renters, so they can build good credit through their timely rent payments.

The focus is to protect renters’ rights and address intergenerational equity concerns, particularly for Millennials and Gen Z, who predominantly rent. These measures form part of a broader strategy within the budget to foster an equitable economy for all generations. 

Alongside these initiatives, efforts are underway to accelerate housing construction, enhance affordability, and create sustainable employment opportunities.

Illuminated 'no vacancy' neon sign at dusk.

CMHC’s Rental Market Trends

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC’s) 2024 Rental Market Report highlights some key trends for the rental market. 

The national rental landscape shows demand for rental units surpassing supply for the second consecutive year, despite an increase in overall rental unit availability. In 2023, Canada witnessed record-low vacancy rates at 1.5% alongside record-high average rent growth at 8.0%, leading to very competitive rental conditions across major markets.

In particular, Toronto, Montréal, Calgary, and Edmonton experienced notable declines in vacancy rates, indicating heightened demand. Vancouver and Ottawa stayed relatively stable in their rental markets. Rent growth accelerated significantly in major markets, with Calgary and Edmonton showing particularly sharp increases.

The affordability of rental housing declined as rent growth outpaced wage growth. Lower-income renters were particularly affected, as there were below-average vacancy rates for more affordable units in major cities.

Across Canada, the average purpose-built two-bedroom apartment rented for $1,359 per month, while condo rental costs sat at $2,049.

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