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Rental prices up, demand high in tight Windsor housing market: CMHC

A sign advertises a house as for sale or for rent in Ottawa on June 9, 2023. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)
A sign advertises a house as for sale or for rent in Ottawa on June 9, 2023. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press - image credit)

If you're looking to rent an apartment in Windsor this year, it'll cost you more — if you can find one.

A new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says rental prices are up between 4.5 for a one bedroom unit and 6.5 per cent for a two bedroom unit in 2023.

The corporation says its a result of low rental supply and high demand, with a rental vacancy rate of just two per cent in Windsor. Windsor saw 310 units added to the region's rental stock in 2023.

Anthony Passarelli is the lead economist for southern Ontario at CMHC. He says the rental vacancy rate of two per cent in Windsor is near the city's record low.

He says there are three factors causing the low vacancy rate: an influx of newcomers, students and student housing, and high home prices. 

"This data that we released today sort of reinforces our view that there is a lack of supply, particularly rental supply that's really eroding affordability.  Passarelli said.

"So rents are going up very strong rate,"

And, the report says, new renters will pay more than people already in their units: The average rent for a unit that is already rented was just over $1,000. But a vacant unit is renting for $100 more per month on average.

Passarelli said that leads to a lack of mobility in the market: Renters won't or can't move because they would now be forced to pay the higher rent.

"They're facing stiff competition," Passarelli said. "That has a lot of negative implications for the rental market because if you don't have people moving, then especially less expensive units don't free up."

The average rent for a two-bedroom unit in 2023 was $1,235. That's up more than six per cent from 2022.

Councillor says shortage, prices 'the perfect storm'

Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante says Windsor's housing shortage is a "perfect storm."

"The influx of international students with immigration, but also folks from the GTA and other parts of the province and the country relocating to Windsor," he said.

"We're a growing city and we're going through an unprecedented growth period right now ... which is causing a significant amount of pressure on our housing market."

Costante said housing pressures put tenants in a "precarious" position, with some moving into overcrowded units to keep their rents affordable.

"That has increased over the years, there's no doubt. And so this research and this data very much validates a lot of the concerns that we've been raising for for years now," he said.

Costante says the solution is more housing, and wants to see post-secondary institutions invest more in housing for students while upper levels of government invest in housing.

A photo of Windsor City Hall in a 2023 file photo
A photo of Windsor City Hall in a 2023 file photo

A photo of Windsor City Hall in a 2023 file photo (Chris Ensing/CBC)

On Wednesday, the federal ministry of housing informed the city its application for as much as $70 million in federal Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) money was unsuccessful, largely due to the city's refusal to commit to allowing four units by right on any property in the city.

Nationwide, the average vacancy for purpose-built rentals is 1.5 per cent, the lowest rate since the CMHC began tracking that data in 1988. That number is down from 1.9 per cent in 2022.