Written By Treat Hull
Part 1 of an 8 part series on things to know before buying or renting in Prince Edward County
Finding someplace to rent can be a daunting task for newcomers to Prince Edward County, and for established residents too.
There is lots of competition for a limited number of rentals, but this article will share some tips I’ve learned during my time in real estate on how to boost your chances of finding a place to rent.
Rentals Are Scarce
Rental housing is in short supply across the province, but rentals are particularly scarce in the County.
In a rental vacancy research project conducted last year, the County’s Community and Economic Development Department found that the rental vacancy rate was under 1%, which means rentals here are more scarce than they are in Toronto.
Though investment in long-term rentals has been limited across the province, there are some special circumstances which affect rentals in the County.
Compared to major urban centres where many people live in apartment buildings, most of the residences in the County are single-family homes which account for more than 8 out of every 10 residences here.
Historically, many rural farmhouses were rented out as more successful farmers bought up neighboring farms and rented out the extra residence. Quite aside from the conversion of rental properties to Airbnb’s, the decade-long influx of newcomers looking for a rural lifestyle means many of these homes have been bought up in recent years and have disappeared from the rental market.
Few Condos Available
Condos provide many rental units in larger centres, but condos came late to Prince Edward County and are relatively few.
In big Canadian cities, up to 30% of people now live in condos but the County’s limited supply means that that condos make up less than 2% of our dwelling units. Recently I looked up the MLS records and found that fewer than 50 condos sold in the last ten years here in the County while 4,300 single-family detached homes sold during the same time period.
Increasing Your Odds
The County’s overall housing supply is expected to increase significantly over the next several years which I’ll cover in an upcoming article, but this is not expected to have much immediate impact on the rental market.
So, with low vacancies here to stay for the foreseeable future, what can you do to improve your chances of getting a good rental?
Many landlords have waiting lists and only a few vacancies are advertised, to the first thing you need to do is check online frequently and jump right away when anything does come up. In particular, there are two good resources you should be following online.
The first is the available rentals feed which is maintained by the County. (https://buildanewlife.ca/available-rentals/) In addition, if you’re a Facebook user, you should search for places to rent in the PEC Community Page and the PEC “Well Managed” Community Page. These are both closed groups, so you have to click to join. These are both very active sites with a lot of users where rentals come up from time to time. You can also check out the 24/7 Yard Sale Prince Edward County
Local Connections Helpful
Although some rentals get posted online, many go by word of mouth where someone knows someone who has a place coming up for rent and refers a friend. If you’re a newcomer, making friends and connections can be very helpful in find a place to rent.
One way to improve your chances of finding a permanent place is to rent a vacant Airbnb during the winter season and take advantage of your time here to build your local knowledge and personal network.
Airbnb Licensing May Help
Finally, on a note of hope, the County will require Airbnb’s to get a license starting this year. While it’s still too early to say how big the impact will be, I know from my clients that licensing will push at least some owners to convert their properties into long-term rentals.
Treat Hull is Broker of Record and owner of Treat Hull & Associates Ltd., a Prince Edward County real estate brokerage which takes no listings and represents only buyers. For more information, visit www.treathull.ca.