Update: How Is Ontario’s Rental Housing Industry Weathering The Pandemic Downturn?

Back on May 5th I wrote a post in which I speculated about the short, medium, and long term affects of the pandemic on Ontario’s rental housing industry.

Do I stand by my predictions? Do I think something else might happen? Generally speaking, I stand by what I wrote… mostly. I think my short-term predictions were fairly sound, even if they were fairly obvious, and I think my long-term predictions will come true, even if they were fairly banal.

In the medium term the Ontario government’s Bill 184 is a big unknown: apparently neither landlords nor tenants are happy with it, which suggests the government is trying to be balanced or at least trying not to be overtly biased. Contrary to what I posted previously, I think we’ll see turnover increase as economic problems persist into the fall and early next year and many renters who have lost jobs and can’t pay rents find other housing solutions. I’m not sure about evictions, despite predictions from tenant-aligned groups and observers; they will probably increase but the government won’t want to see a big spike in evictions. Again, contrary to what I posted previously, I doubt the government will raise the guideline increase; they’ll find less public ways to help landlords (which is probably what Bill 184 is intended to do).

One question that will eventually be answered is this: Will the pandemic and its economic impact change the way Ontarians think of rental housing and the renting versus owning calculus? At this point I don’t have any firm thoughts, although I think it’s safe to predict that with economic uncertainty will come a greater caution regarding housing costs among a larger percentage of households than in the recent past.