Halifax’s Tight Rental Market: Scavenger Hunt for Potential Renters


Securing an apartment in Halifax presently represents a significant challenge, bearing a striking resemblance to both a scavenger hunt and a complex puzzle. Certain residents, such as Lauren McKenney, view the entire process as a competitive game. The theory of only one winner applying aptly in this scenario, given the increasingly tight rental market that makes squeezing in seem somewhat impossible.

Many have felt the sting of this escalating issue. NSCAD student, Quinn O’Connor, experienced it first-hand, initiating contact with many potential lessors months before school, albeit, receiving sparse responses in return. Her search, primarily driven through Kijiji ads or Facebook marketplace platforms, is, unfortunately, not an isolated incidence.

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Numerous potential renters share this frustrating experience. Gabriel Savard expresses a similar sentiment, emphasizing how despite consistent efforts through email and messaging, success remains elusive.

At surface level, it appears Halifax is expanding, with cranes dominating the city’s skyline and a surge in construction projects. However, the rising number of buildings does not equate to an increased vacancy rate, which remains stagnated. Rentals.ca’s Giacomo Ladas reveals that Halifax’s current vacancy rate sits at one per cent, suggesting an equilibrium between demand and supply. He adds that the turnover rate is at a five-year low, highlighting reduced tenant movement.

Ladas also draws attention to the ongoing peak rental season, accompanied by a student rush for lease agreements before the commencement of their academic term. Alongside a growing population and potential interest rate hike’s influence deterring potential homebuyers, it catalyzes an unsettling situation. He describes it as a ‘perfect storm’ that significantly lowers vacancy rates.

Although availability is a noteworthy factor, cost factors in critically too. Lauren McKenney, after an arduous three-month search, was finally able to locate an apartment. However, the high rent becomes a matter of concern. What ostensibly appears to be a one-bedroom apartment leaning more towards the studio design, pushes rent boundaries.

The rental figures from Rentals.ca corroborate this anecdotal evidence. The average rental rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Halifax crosses the $1,800 per month mark, marking a considerable nine per cent hike from the previous year. An unsettling trend, that for the city’s renters, indicates a distressing turn of events.