Significant Increase in Demand for Off-Campus Housing and How It's Impacting Students

Monday, September 20, 2021

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With the changes to on-campus housing and influx of students returning to campus, the off-campus housing industry is seeing a substantial increase in demand while supply seems to remain low. This is affecting the student population as they scramble to find rentals near campus. (P4S) has been monitoring the situation closely and noticed a pattern of changes as students attempt to find an accommodation. There has been an increase in roommate profiles being posted online (students requesting to become a roommate with other students already renting) and a decrease in sublets (students advertising their place for rent to a subletter).  


  • The total number of roommate profiles online with P4S has increased by 58.2% (comparing the first 6-months of 2020 vs 2021)
  • Canada – 39.5% increase
  • USA – 77.4% increase
  • Many students have been commenting in their roommate profile that they were not selected for on-campus housing and off-campus renting is their only option for returning to school
  • The total number of sublets online with P4S has decreased by 55.6% (comparing the first 6-months of 2020 vs 2021)
  • Canada – 57.3% decrease
  • USA – 53.7% decrease
  • The decrease in sublet postings reveal that students have been holding onto their rental accommodation and not getting out of the lease early to save money, but instead keeping the rental for next term
  • The total number of property listings by landlords online with P4S has increased by 21.1% (comparing the first 6-months of 2020 vs 2021)
  • Canada – 7.9% increase
  • USA – 37.4% increase


There have been several factors contributing to these changes this year.


  • Much lower rental vacancy rates across Canada and the USA have been impacted by many private landlords selling their rental properties and getting out of the market due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The booming real estate market has also affected the rental industry by causing rental rates to increase.
  • Colleges and universities throughout North America have had to adjust their capacity limits and protocols for on-campus accommodations in order to keep students safe during the pandemic.


Dalhousie University, one of our partner schools in Nova Scotia, announced that they would be reducing the university’s on-campus housing by 500 beds this year from 2,300 to 1,800. This has been driving the need for housing even greater in a province with already low vacancy rates.


Some universities have been offering cash incentives to students to live off-campus vs on-campus this year, in order to help alleviate their dorm crunch. The Dartmouth campus announced that students could enter a draw, as the university is giving $5,000 to selected students on their waitlist. also launched a country-wide media campaign to help generate more affordable rental options for students.


SEE ALSO:  Reasons to Invest in North American Student Housing

The Team