What is the Bulletin?

The Profile Toronto bulletin “Housing Occupancy Trends 1996-2016” analyzes patterns in housing supply and demand over a twenty year period. It examines changing household characteristics and development trends and the impact they have on housing across Toronto. Toronto’s continued population growth combined with the evolution of housing types and household composition will lead to continuing changes in the city’s housing supply, demand and occupancy rates. The demand for different types of housing will be affected by the interplay of demographic change and social trends such as the timing of household formation and household composition, as well as changes in housing supply and the interaction between supply, price and affordability. Unaffordability remains a pressing issue.

Trends & Patterns

To gain a better understanding of what types of housing will be needed in the future, the bulletin observes past housing demand patterns using the 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 Censuses of Canada and the 2011 National Household Survey. It examines the characteristics of households occupying the existing housing stock to determine potential challenges facing future housing demand and supply. What are the ages of the households? How does family composition affect housing? Has there been a shift in the demand for certain types of housing by households of a certain age and type? What does the rental and ownership landscape look like?

                              Occupancy Rates by Household Type by Dwelling Type, 1996 to 2016

Occupancy Rates by Household Type by Dwelling Type 1996 - 2016.


The 2016 Household Profiles summarise key household and dwelling characteristics based on customised tabulations of the 2016 Census for the city of Toronto. The 2016 Household Profiles are based on the same data reported in the Housing Occupancy Trends, 1996-2016 bulletin. The highlighted characteristics include:

  • Age of Head of Household
  • Dwelling Type
  • Household Type
  • Tenure
  • Period of Construction

The 2016 Household Profiles organize all households by Age of Head of Household, also referred to as the Primary Household Maintainer (PHM). The PHM is determined by Statistics Canada to be the first person listed on the Census form of a household who pays the rent, mortgage, taxes or other household expenses. This person is considered to have the most influence over the household’s choice of housing. Household Profiles By Age of PHM are available for Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Senior households based on the Age of the PHM on May 10, 2016.


In the years between 1996 and 2016, the population of Toronto grew by 346,150 people, a 14.5% increase, while the number of households increased by 23.2%, adding 209,345 new households.

This population growth combined with the evolution of household composition, introduces several housing challenges, such as increased pressure on existing stock and demand for more units, which will require further densification and creative housing solutions.

Household Growth

  • The number of households living in mid/high-rise apartments (apartment units in buildings with 5 or more storeys, whether rental or condominium) reached 493,135 households in 2016, nearly 161,205 more than in 1996. Between 1996 and 2016, this dwelling type accounted for 77.0% of all the newly occupied units.

Size of a Condominium Apartment

  • In 1997, the average size of a condominium apartment unit was 1,144 square feet. By 2017 the average size had fallen to 665 square feet. Over half of all mid/high-rise units built between 2006 and 2016 were one-bedroom units.

Occupants in Mid/High Rise Units

  • Between 1996 and 2016, there was a substantial increase in occupancy of mid/high-rise units. In 2016, there were as many households aged 15-34 as households aged 50-69 living in mid/high-rise units.

Occupants aged 50-69 years

  • The growth rate of households whose primary household maintainer was between the ages of 50-69 years increased by 139,940 households. Due to their number and their large proportion of all households, housing decisions by this group are having a profound effect on housing demand.

Families & Households

  • The number of lone-parent families and couples with children living in mid/high-rise units has increased. In 2016, there were 13,645 lone-parent families and 14,970 more couples with children living in high-rises than there were 20 years earlier. This is important as larger households tend to require units with more bedrooms or units with additional living space

Non-Family Households

  • Non-family households represent a growing share of all household types. The number of non-family households increased from 312,345 to 428,370 households. One-person households now make nearly one third of all households in Toronto.

Person per Household

  • The average size of Toronto households continues to decline. In 1996, Toronto had an average of 2.60 persons per household (PPH). By 2016, it had fallen to 2.42 PPH. However, the overall trend contains more complex changes.

Household Sizes by Dwelling Type

  • The average household size in mid/high-rise units is smaller in more recently built units, reflecting the smaller physical size of the newer units. The opposite is true of household sizes in houses and low-rise units where the household size is larger in the more recently built units. These trends are predominantly observed in family households. The average size of non-family households did not vary regardless of when the units were built.
  • The decline in average PPH in mid/high-rise apartments is anticipated to level off. Overall, the average number of persons per household will not decline in perpetuity and can be expected to rise in neighbourhoods where ground-related housing turns over from senior households to younger families

Owners and Renter Households

  • While the total number of renter and owner households increased between 1996 and 2016, owner households increased three times as much. However, this trend reversed between 2011 and 2016. Owner households have increased by 15,285 while renter households have increased by 49,730.
  • Most of the increase in renter households occurred in rented condominium units rather than in purpose-built rental units. Almost a fifth (18.4%) of all renters were renting condominium units in 2016, an increase from 12.6% in 2011.

Shelter Costs

  • In 2016, 36.6% of all Toronto households spent more than 30% or more of their income on shelter costs.

The “Housing Occupancy Trends 1996-2011” bulletin was published in October 2015 and analyzes patterns in housing supply and demand over a fifteen year period between 1996 and 2011.


In the years between 1996 and 2011, the population of Toronto grew by 229,580 people, a 9.6% increase, while the number of households increased by 16%, adding 144,195 new households. Over the next 20 years, Toronto’s population is forecasted to reach over three million people.

This population growth combined with the evolution of household composition, introduces several housing challenges, such as increased pressure on existing stock and demand for more units, which will require further densification and creative housing solutions.

Household Growth

  • The number of households in Toronto grew 16.0% to 1,047,780 households.
  • The number of high-rise apartments increased by 30% to 430,080, and accounted for 68% of all newly occupied units with a total of 98,150 households.

Age of Occupant

  • Households 45-64 years of age grew the most, adding 115,750 households for a total of 403,970 households in 2011.
  • Household growth between the ages of 30-44 years declined by 6.5%. There was a loss of 20,870 households.
    In the 30-44 age cohort there was a loss of 31,200 households in ground-related housing.

Families & Households

  • Family households increased by 66,000 households, although its share of total households decreased.
  • The share of non-families, specifically one person households, grew from 34.6% to 37.3% with an increase of 78,425 households; this accounted for 54% of the net household growth.
  • There were 10,145 more families with children living in high-rise apartments representing a 15% increase.

Person per Household

  • The average number of person per household (PPH) decreased from 2.60 to 2.46.

High Rise Buildings

  • 6 of every 10 units built were in high-rise buildings, yet only 3.8% of these apartments had 3 or more bedrooms.

Size of 3-Bedroom Apartment Unit

  • The average size of a 3-bedroom apartment unit decreased by 20% between 1996-2014. The average household size of these units remained at approximately 3.0 persons per household (PPH).


  • Household ownership increased with ownership in high-rises contributing the most, an increase of 82,375 units. The proportion of owned units grew by 11% in high-rises, but decreased by 13% in houses and low-rise apartments.

There are two previous Profile Toronto bulletins in the Housing Occupancy Trend series. These bulletins provide analysis of changes in household composition and housing occupancy between 1996 and 2006, and between 1996 and 2011. For copies of the past bulletins, please contact Hailey Toft at City Planning by telephone at 416-392-8343 or by email at cityplanning@toronto.ca.