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Nova Scotia

Average rent in Halifax increased at ‘fastest pace on record,’ CMHC report shows

A Halifax resident shares her story of being driven out of town

Halifax renters had “no relief” in 2022, said economic analyst Kelvin Ndoro in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest rental market report, released Jan. 26.

According to the report, the city’s median rent rose 8.9 percent to $1,350, despite the province’s 2 percent rent cap for tenants staying in the same unit.

“In 2022 there was no relief for tenants as the vacancy rate remained flat and the average rent rose at an all-time high,” Ndoro said in the report.

According to the CMHC, this was the highest increase in a year since 2002 and four times the average historical baseline since 1990.

33-year-old college student Christina Coculuzzi is a South End Halifax resident who says high rents are pushing her out of town. She says she will be moving to Ottawa in April to live with her parents.

“Even if I got a professional job, given the salaries they are willing to pay and the rent I would have to pay, I would still be broke,” Coculuzzi said.

She says that if she could find a job in Ottawa, living with her parents would allow her to pay off her student loans quickly. However, Coculuzzi estimates that she probably wouldn’t move out for another two to three years.

According to the CMHC, 13,561 people left the province in 2022 compared to 2021, a 33 percent increase. However, there were twice as many immigrants as emigrants.

Coculuzzi says her two-bedroom apartment, which she shares with a roommate, costs $1,800 a month. She said three-quarters of her minimum wage income goes toward housing costs.

“Only 3 percent of the rental universe is affordable for renter households in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution (annual income below $28,000),” states the CMHC report.

Jill Grant, a retired planning professor at Dalhousie University, said more public housing is needed to cope with rising rents.

She said public housing “would be more responsive to the means people have rather than setting rents that are unrealistic for many households”.

According to Grant, Singapore and South Korea are examples of places with high rates of social housing and as a result “people are less precariously housed”.

A 2019 study by RMIT University in Australia found that “social housing is a very powerful protective factor that reduces the risk of homelessness”.

“The average rent increase was highest in Dartmouth North at 12.7 per cent,” says the CMHC report. “This area had the lowest average all-in rent in the city ($1,040).”

Additionally, according to CMHC data, the average rent for Halifax units that were handed over to new tenants was $363 more expensive than those that didn’t change tenants.

The CMHC report states, “These rent discrepancies could be due to renovated units or property owners adjusting rents to market value due to higher utility costs.”

For Coculuzzi, friends and family ties to Nova Scotia make her sad that she has to go.

“I love living here and I wanted to stay,” she said. “They priced us out.”

The rent cap expires on December 31st.

Andrew Lamm

Andrew Lamm

Andrew Lam (they/she) is a Chinese and transgender journalist interested in work, LGBTQIA+ and political stories. They hope to use their background in data analysis for insightful journalism. In her free time, Andrew enjoys singing and hiking in the choir.

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