A recent survey by Rental.ca polled more than 16,000 renters across 181 cities in Canada to get insights into how Covid-19 would affect rentals in the short term. Some of the stats are surprising. Let's dig in as we explore some trends that will play out over the summer and into the autumn months.
Renters are On the Move
When asked, “Are you planning to move during the coronavirus pandemic?” less than 20% (18.5 to be exact) said they were staying put. A full 30% were on the fence, and the remainder were definitely moving – 34.3% were moving due to their lease being up, and 17.2% of the respondents were waiting until the lockdown was over before starting to look.
An Uncertain Future Begets a Desire for Affordable Housing
Despite a large percentage of people (45%) saying they were not worried about moving, the biggest fear was not being able to afford rent, an uncertain future and job insecurity.
The knock-on effect of this uncertainty plays out in the response to the question “Due to Covid-19, will you need to look for a more affordable rental?” Just over 50% of respondents said a resounding ‘Yes’ while another 20% were waiting it out to see Covid-19’s impact on their job. Just under 30% would not be looking for more affordable housing.
In large metropolises, like Vancouver and Toronto, where affordable housing is limited, Tom Davidoff, director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, points out that “rental demand could rise in pockets of Metro Vancouver. Suburban homes may be more desirable to renters who plan to work from home and do not need to spend a premium to live near downtown Vancouver.”
With lockdowns and social distancing, we’ve already seen an increase in virtual tours, online applications and other tech that streamlines the leasing process. (If you’ll looking for a powerful suite of products to help digitalize and optimize your property management processes, check out our pricing and get a demo.
According to the Rental.ca survey, 37% of respondents would happily sign a lease based on a virtual tour, and almost 42% indicated that even though they would not sign a lease without an in-person visit, they would use a virtual tour to narrow down their choices.
The final question in the survey, “Do you see the pandemic changing how you will search for a rental?” revealed that 43% said they would only rent from property managers who offer safe cleaning practices. With more and more people working from home, tenants want safer buildings.
Property management firms have an opportunity to not only tell their residents about their new cleaning regimes, but to post it on their websites for prospective renters, and include a bullet point in rental ads, making potential tenants aware of their proactive Covid-19 processes.