Facing a rental shortage, Montrealer takes unusual step to find an apartment
After weeks combing the online ads, and not seeing anything decent in her price range, Andy St-Louis took her search for a new apartment to social media.
The singer posted her original song called “Je veux ton appartement” to Facebook.
“I think there's a lot of Airbnb going on, I think there's a lot of condo situations, and there are fewer places to rent just for us normal people,” she said.
The market has tightened because more people from all over the world are choosing to live in Montreal, explained economist Francis Cartellino of the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
“We're talking about international students, temporary workers from abroad and also refugees,” he said. “Net migration is normally around 45,000 people per year. In the last two years, it was around 65,000 and 75,000 people. Most of those people when they arrive in Montreal are going to rent an apartment.”
The demand for rental units is now so high, developers have taken note. In 2016, they built 4,500 rental units in the Montreal area; in 2017, they built 7,000; and last year, they built 10,000.
“More rental units are being built than condos for the last three years. The last time we saw that was in the 80s,” said Cortellino.
It’s still not enough to make a dent in the vacancy rate, though.
The vacancy rate was 4% in 2015 and 2016, and it’s now only 1.9%.
Despite that, there is some good news for Andy St. Louis.
Her song, which has 80,000 views on Facebook, landed her dozens of offers for apartments. She found a sublet at a bargain price and signed a lease.