The Yukon Party will launch a public consultation on the rent control policy announced by the territorial government.
The official Opposition says the policy has created chaos, uncertainty and hardship for both tenants and landlords.
The policy is part of the two-year accord the NDP has negotiated with the Yukon Liberals to allow its minority government to function with some sense of stability until at least early 2023.
It’s only one of many add-ons the NDP has persuaded the Liberals to adopt in exchange for the support of the NDP.
The policy was to be implemented on May 15 – although there has been no public consultation and very little information released.
It calls for capping rent increases to one per cent this year, beginning May 15, and to limit the cap based on the rate of inflation going forward.
According to party leader Currie Dixon, Yukon Party MLAs have heard extensively from concerned landlords who are fearing for both their short- and long-term financial situations.
They have also heard from tenants who fear they will be displaced or have already experienced dramatic rent increases.
“Despite this policy never having been announced formally, both landlords and tenants have been reacting to it as it was one of the key policies that underpins the Liberal-NDP coalition agreement and will supposedly come into force on May 15,” Dixon stated in a news release.
“The Yukon Party has heard accounts of tenants subjected to last-minute rent increases and even eviction notices, as well as landlords putting rental units up for sale or looking at converting them to condos.
“All of this is the result of the spectre of the ill-considered and poorly communicated policy from the Liberal-NDP coalition.”
In response to this chaotic situation, the Yukon Party is launching a public consultation so that rental tenants, landlords, and other affected Yukoners can inform the legislature about the impacts of this policy.
“This is being done because the Liberal-NDP coalition announced their policy and implementation date with no consultation at all.”
During an interview with the Star on Friday, Dixon doubled down on those points.
“It hasn’t been formally announced yet,” he said, referring to the rent cap.
“There’s a lot of chaos that’s been created by this. It’s creating pandemonium, it’s a big issue and we absolutely think it needs to be reconsidered.”
“You can’t sink a landlord without sinking its tenants too,” added Whitehorse real estate agent Jacklyn Stockstill. Her comments were provided in the release from the Yukon Party.
“As a result of this announcement, hundreds of tenants were given rental increases or notices to vacate as landlords scramble to bring their under-market prices up to the current market prices,” she said.
“The vast majority of these landlords were nowhere near market rates, and were not planning increases or at the very least were planning modest increases.
“Now there is a massive rush as rents will be frozen where they are with a one per cent increase allowed per year.”
Stockstill said that will force many landlords to reconsider their options and potentially take rental units off the market.
“We need more rentals, not less,” she said. “With no vacancies, there’s nowhere for all these tenants to go.”
She said the announcement led to “mass confusion and no leadership.”
Marc Perrault, the president of the Yukon Real Estate Association, said he believes there was a pressing need for more consultation.
He said he’s been hearing “quite a few complaints” about the process from landlords and tenants alike.
“Landlords are concerned,” he said. “People are concerned.”
Perrault said he too has heard of landlords racing to raise their rents or looking into selling their properties.
That’s going to put further stress on the over-taxed market in the Yukon, especially Whitehorse, from operators who are already working on a razor-thin profit margin.
“What we need is more consultation and for the government to clarify the rules of how this is going to work,” Perrault said.