Communal apartments the latest rental trend to hit Canada

By: Lisa Coxon on June 25, 2019

From the outside, it looks just like any other apartment building. But the 24-story rental building that Toronto-based Dream Unlimited Corp. is developing in Ottawa features something out-of-the-ordinary: communal apartments.

For anyone who spent their first year of college or university living in an “apartment-style” dormitory, generally shared with three to four other students, the concept will be familiar. The two- and three-bedroom apartments are intended for multiple tenants who would have their own bedrooms but would share common areas, like the kitchen. 

Amidst soaring rental prices in Canadian cities, the co-living trend is starting to take off. 

The Ottawa building will be managed by Common Living Inc., an American co-living company that’s offering tenants various perks like rooftop yoga and comedy shows.

Around 25% of the building’s units will be communal. Monthly rent for these fully furnished spaces will start at around $1,225, which Bloomberg News says is “about 30 per cent less than similar one-bedrooms in the area.”

The tower, which is to be completed in 2022, will also feature standard, non-communal apartments, which will go for around $2,065 a month.

Bloomberg reports that the co-living concept has become popular in Europe and the United States, and is becoming increasingly popular among millennials who can’t afford the high cost of renting in big cities.

And, since these communal apartments come fully furnished, this style of living also gives renters the ability to hop around from apartment to apartment without collecting a lot of their own furniture and having to take it with them. 

“We’re doing a number of things where we are trying to provide affordable housing,” Michael Cooper, president of Dream Unlimited Corp., told Bloomberg.

“It’s a big issue.”

And, as far as Cooper is concerned, this is the best solution.

The property owners can collect more rent per square foot and renters can have access to cheaper rent but still live in a full-sized apartment. 

“We’ll be able to drive better returns in this model than we would with a traditional apartment."