Residential Rentals Scarce in Barrie

April 7, 2012

For Sale Friday

Before most of us become homeowners, we rent apartments or sometimes houses. More often than not, however, many people are renting someone’s basement. As most people in Barrie know, the vast majority of basement (or “second suite”) units are technically not legal. In fact, there are only 676 registered second suites in the city. We all know the actual numbers are way higher.

Right now, CMHC is predicting an even lower than originally expected vacancy rate  at 1.5%, and it continues to drop as the number of bedrooms increases, like a 0% vacancy rate for 3 bedroom units. In comparison to other Ontario cities, Barrie has the lowest vacancy rate for 2- and 3- or more bedrooms.

Over the past several years, it is clear that there is a lot of construction happening in Barrie, but it’s mostly homes and condos. In fact, only 2 apartment buildings were constructed in 2011 (from CMHC report). Many residents seem to be against building rentals for some reason, but that only means people have to rely on those unregistered suites.

The unfortunate reality is that Barrie’s vacancy rate has been well below Ontario’s average for 20 years with the exception of 2008-2010. The good news is that our rental rates have remained within a few dollars of the Ontario average, but are generally $100-$150 above the national average. In 2011, the average cost for a rental in Barrie (registered, mind you!) was $1000.

We need to start attracting builders in Barrie to construct apartment buildings for rent. Especially considering our student population (recall my article on Student Housing in Barrie) is already having difficulty finding appropriate accommodation. And if/when the university is built in Barrie, think about all those students, professors and staff who will need a place to live. We also need to encourage the city to increase registered second suites. It will increase the tax revenue, and make those units a safer place to live for those tenants.

, , , , , , , , , , ,

About Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

View all posts by Laura

4 Responses to “Residential Rentals Scarce in Barrie”

  1. Tim L. Walker Says:

    So what needs to change in order for these basement units to be turned into legal second suites?


  2. Laura Says:

    It’s definitely a City decision, but if enough people rally together to bring the issue to the forefront it should put some pressure on our elected officials.


  3. Mike Says:

    I own 40 rental properties in Barrie all of which are legal duplex or triplex

    Mine are legal because I’ve bought them legal or have applied for registration, spending the money to bring the units up to building and fire code.

    Many of the units that I have and were rented before I owned them were an accident waiting to happen as they were not constructed with safety in mind just profit

    It a very easy solution to solve every unit going for rent has to advertise in the paper, kijiji or Craigslist

    Assign an enforcement officer to follow the adds and all the ones that are illegal force them to shut down or legalize

    These shady landlords will not upgrade unless forced to do so why would they need to spend the money when the units are being rented without an issue. If the city advises them they cannot use the unit unless its registered this is where change will take place

    Right now the city just relies on complaint calls to find these units


  4. Laura Says:

    Thanks for the reply, Mike. Although I don’t live in Barrie anymore, it’s the same in many cities. The problem we will always run into is that the city doesn’t have the time or the budget to fix the issue. Keep in mind that patrolling third party websites take a LOT of time, and using these venues to advertise anything – illegal or not – is almost impossible.

    So for now, it’s up to the public to make complaints! Even if you don’t live in a rental property that looks like it may be illegal, you can always call anonymously and report it.

    For any landlords out there – please do your due diligence. Make your properties safe. There are rules for a reason.


Leave a Reply