Demand for rental properties in the Greater Toronto Area is showing signs of a slow recovery after suffering a severe blow from COVID-19, a new report showed.

The average rental rate per square foot in the GTA for all property types rose to $1,999 in May, up $22 from the previous month, according to data by Bullpen Research & Consulting and Rental rates in the city rose 2.2 per cent since January to $2.80, the report said.

The increase indicates rates may have hit a bottom in the first quarter of 2021 following the sharp declines seen throughout 2020 due to the pandemic. Monthly rents were still down in May by 11.4 per cent year-over-year.

The average monthly rent for condos in the GTA increased 1.7 per cent month-over-month to $2,109, according to Bullpen Research. Rental apartments remained steady, seeing only a 0.3 per cent monthly increase to $1,900 while monthly rental rates for single-family homes rose by 1.3 per cent month-over-month to $2,859.

The report said Toronto may be only two to three months away from experiencing the strong lease-up activity currently seen in other large American cities including New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

“With Toronto entering the next stage of COVID-19 reopening, tenants will be reminded of the benefits of a centrally located apartment or condominium rental, as patios fill up and boutique retail shops open,” said Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research, in a statement.

Bullpen forecasts GTA rental rates will grow by 12 to 14 per cent next year as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted.