Traditional or Smart Home Amenities – Who Wins The Toronto Rental Market?

Traditional or Smart Home Amenities – Who Wins The Toronto Rental Market? CityNews released a report on February 9th, 2018, stating that the percentage of households renting in Toronto is a staggering 47% and growing.

In 2017, a report by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation found owning a home in the GTA, especially in Toronto, has become less affordable.   For Residential Property Managers, this statistic supports the extremely low vacancy rates, as more families are choosing to rent.

These renters include a swell of, potential first-time home buyers, as well as new immigrants. The report also notes that there are not enough private, renting buildings being constructed to fill the need. Due to this, the condominium rental market is skyrocketing in demand for rental units. Even with the high occupancy rate in Toronto, there are still amenities that savvy renters are seeking.

Just a few years ago, potential renters were satisfied with a few desirable conveniences.  Toronto residential property managers knew what traditional enhancements gave the most profitable turnaround. Though a number of these amenities are considered older conveniences, many are still in high demand today. Traditional benefits include:

A gym and/or a pool

This amenity has always been in high demand. Currently, many renters are still willing to pay more if these two features are available. The property management company only needs to make one large expenditure, but the return on the investment is well worth it.

What is interesting about this highly sought-after combination is that even if the renter does not use the facilities, they are able to tell others that their building has these extras. This makes their home address have more status.

A good walkability score

A walkability score is what rating a building gets for having frequently visited places close to its property. Tenants most desired a grocery store within walking distance. Other important crowd-pleasing places desired nearby include:  schools, restaurants and public transit, to name a few.


Security features can cover a multitude of features in your buildings. Renters are not just seeking a system that monitors who comes in the building but a peephole that offers a good view of who is at the door. Secure windows are also desired as it makes your tenant feel safer.

A well looked after property

This feature has always been important; from the moment the potential renter comes to see the building. As the tenant does not have to take care of the maintenance of the building, or their unit, it is vital that their basic expectations regarding the outward beauty of the property and a problem-free unit are met. This is where a good property manager can shine.

Walk-in closet and/or Storage Space

Even though this is considered a traditional amenity, renters currently seek this touch as well. Years ago, it was the storage unit available in the basement that was really attractive. Just a short while ago, it was a storage space in the unit or a large walk-in closet. As many units are now much smaller than before, this amenity is now an absolute necessity. For Toronto property managers, any building they run that has this added value will make it easier to rent.


For renters, the most ideal parking options were a garage or a driveway in front of or on the property, but even parking on a nearby street was considered a plus.

This traditional amenity will always be one that is desired by most renters.

Presently, in the city of Toronto, many people now choose not to have a car. In addition, a parking spot at a luxury condo in downtown Toronto, even as far back as 2011, could run from $500 a month to a staggering $100,000 a year. The further away from downtown Toronto you live, the less you will pay for your parking and the more it is needed. Some buildings typically charge $150 a month for parking.

Other amenities that are considered traditional include:

  • A dishwasher
  • Air conditioning
  • An in-suite washer and dryer

A study done by Entrata, a US based company that creates Property Management Software listed the most sought after smart home amenities. Many renters prefer the options of smart home features versus traditional ones and are willing to pay more for them. A Digital Trends article found that, over half of their respondents would pay $20 a month more for smart home amenities and some would even pay $30 more. The smart home features that are the most desired by tenants include:

High speed internet

Renters who have the money to spend on high-end buildings will be demanding this amenity. High speed internet offers faster times to load information. It can also support a number of different users at once, and with almost everyone in a family using the internet that is a defining advantage. The faster internet will make it easier for renters to get their downloadable entertainment and better communication for business and pleasure.

Security Systems and Cameras

Nowadays, every building should have some kind of security system, and any Toronto property management company would know this. Savvy renters want that extra safety factor.  The entire building’s systems can be monitored by the company that installed them.

Now it is also possible to include high-tech systems for individual units that are wireless and can be monitored from smartphones, tablets and computers. This is a much desired amenity for many long-term tenants.

Keyless Entry

The advantages of this convenience work for both the property management company and the renter. Once these locks are installed, the property management can give the new tenants a code they can use when they live in the building and change it right away when they leave. Certain codes can be given to each renter for guests or as extra keys for additional family members. The property management company will no longer have to buy keys for each new renter or get them back from those that leave.

Online payment system

This much-desired new amenity is also a money and time saver for Property Managers.

  • Renters demand this as an important value in their buildings. For this reason, your tenants will be more content.
  • Less expense for property managers, as it is cheaper to manage an online system rather than walking around collecting rent or waiting for a cheque in the mail.
  • Late payments will be minimized as you will have the option of collecting the rent via Epayments, credit card and PayPal.
  • More Security for payments compared to accepting a cheque and especially cash at the superintendent’s office or by mail.
  • An online monthly trail will be created that can be used to verify if a payment was made or not, if there are any discrepancies.

Toronto Residential Property Managers, at the present time, do have the upper hand when it comes to having renters for the few units available. Times can change, and if there are once again more units than people needing them, which amenities will win the demands of possible tenants? It will be a combination of both traditional and smart home amenities, but the more technologically advanced features will win over the high-end potential renters.

Traditional or Smart Home Amenities – Who Wins The Toronto Rental Market?
Sabine Ghali
Sabine Ghali
Helping real estate investors build wealth over time

Sabine Ghali, Managing Director at Buttonwood Property Management, Award Winning Real Estate Broker and an Entrepreneur at heart. Sabine is on a mission to help investors create real estate wealth over time in the Greater Toronto Area. Sabine is published in a number of media outlets, including Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Gulf News, among many others.