Hamilton rents ‘sky-high’ amid pandemic: report

A spike in rental prices in Hamilton, Ont., amid the novel coronavirus pandemic has a frustrated single mother from Flamborough giving up on her quest to find a rental home for her and her two daughters.

“Because school is starting and I don’t want to move the girls during the semester with all the crazy virus stuff going on,” said Christine Grice, who says her household will likely ride out the school year living in an add-on at her folks’ place.

Read more: ‘Communication’ key for Hamiltonians who can’t pay rent during COVID-19 pandemic

Grice, a purchasing coordinator who makes $60,000 a year, says she started looking for a two-bedroom rental in June and was taken aback by cost and demand which seemed to increase by the day during her searches.

“I watched the ads every day and would call the same day to make an appointment, ” Grice said.

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“I would make it for the next day after work and three times in my search they already had applicants by the time I saw the apartment.”

Recent data from rentals.ca says the average cost of a dwelling in Hamilton continued to rise year over year, with a single bedroom unit hitting $1,489 per month in July while the average two-bedroom cost $2,170.

Read more: COVID-19 putting pressure on small-town rents: ‘I can’t afford to live in the city I grew up in’

During the same period in 2019, a single bedroom was going for just $1,192 a month while two bedrooms were going for just $1,329, according to content director Paul Danison.

“Month to month (rents) have been fluctuating a little bit, but year over year rents in Hamilton have gone sky-high,” said Danison.

The trend mimics recent numbers seen in Southern Ontario’s real estate market in which home prices continued to surge despite the pandemic, particularly in the Hamilton-Niagara region.

A real estate expert told Global News in July that the trend was tied to clients accepting a potentially permanent work-from-home employment scenario.

“Simply put, larger homes in smaller communities have become more fashionable. As competition for these properties heats up, bidding wars are more common in what were our quieter cities and towns,” said Royal LePage president and CEO Phil Soper.

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