That’s the question. What’s the answer? Most people when they think of rental housing they think of tall concrete apartment towers clustered in Toronto or Mississauga. It’s true that in most of Ontario’s larger cities multi-unit apartment buildings constitute the bulk of the rental supply, but many cities it’s a much smaller part of the supply than we realize. So the question becomes, what types of housing other than multi-unit buildings are being rented?
Using 2016 Census data, the pie charts below show total rented dwelling units separated by type for each of the GTA’s major cities, including Toronto, sorted into three different groupings or combinations. These charts combine purpose-built and non-purpose-built rentals.
(1) Toronto is unique with an extremely high proportion of rentals in multi-unit buildings, around 87%. Mississauga also has a distribution dominated by rentals in multi-unit buildings, nearly three-quarters, although Mississauga has a significant proportion of rentals in townhouses.
(2) Burlington, Oakville, and Richmond Hill have more than half of rentals in multi-unit buildings with high proportions of rentals in detached houses and townhouses.
(3) Brampton, Vaughan, Markham, Pickering, and Ajax have half or less of their rentals in multi-unit buildings with high proportions of rentals in detached houses, townhouses, and duplexes.
Toronto’s heavy distribution of rentals in multi-unit buildings is no surprise given the large number of high-rise condo and rental towers in the city. Mississauga makes sense too, given that the city has also has a larger number of high-rise towers plus large townhouse complexes. The high proportion of rentals in detached houses everywhere else is a surprise, however, since we usually don’t think of houses as rentals, especially in places like Vaughan, Pickering, or Ajax which tend not to be rental-friendly at least historically.
In a follow-up to this post I will separate rentals into purpose-built and non-purpose-built, which I expect will generate some interesting charts and discussion.