The Yukon government has set its residential rent increases for 2024.
The index is tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Whitehorse, which is a calculation of how much everyday items cost.
On Thursday afternoon, the government announced that beginning May 15, the residential rent index will change from five per cent to 4.9 per cent.
“Effective this date, the maximum by which landlords will be able to raise rents will be 4.9 per cent, aligned with inflation,” a news release says.
It added, “The rent index came into effect under a new regulation to the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (RLTA) in 2023 as part of the Yukon government’s Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Yukon New Democratic Party.”
In October 2023, the government provided a one-time subsidy of $338 per rental unit to landlords who were impacted by rent cap regulations for the 2023 calendar year. Premier Ranj Pillai told the Star last month that program would not likely be renewed for a second round of subsidies.
Rental increases are not mandatory. They remain the responsibility of the landlords, who are responsible for operating within the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, as they manage their units.
“A rent index that aligns with the cost of living, helps renters and landlords plan for the future,” said Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn.
“We continue to work with landlords and tenants to improve and balance in our complex housing market.
“Our government is currently reviewing the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act and we encourage all Yukon landlords and tenants to participate in the ongoing engagement.”
NDP Leader Kate White added, “We’re here to make life better and more affordable for Yukoners; that’s why this CASA commitment was so important to us and why we’ll continue to support and advocate for it to be permanent.
“Rent caps are the norm across Canada so that people don’t have to choose between rent and food at the end of the month.”
Lars Hartling, the president of the Yukon Residential Landlord Association, was lukewarm on the news.
“Based off of the existing formula from CASA, the 4.9 per cent calculation is not surprising with how inflation is trending down,” he told the Star.
“That being said, thorough consultation is critical for the upcoming changes to the YRLT Act. We must figure out a more accurate index for the cost of doing business for landlords in the Yukon, or allow for more flexibility for landlords to raise rent, while striking a balance to protect tenants and their homes,” Hartling said.
The Yukon Party caucus told the Star this morning, “The Liberal-NDP coalition’s continued interventions in the rental market, including rent control, a ban on no-cause evictions and the landlord subsidy, are negatively impacting the territory’s housing market.
“Since the Liberal-NDP began tinkering in rental policy, many landlords have removed their rental units from the market, decreasing long-term supply,” the YP said in a statement.
“Landlords, tenants and Yukoners are critical of the premier’s landlord subsidy. The Yukon Party moved to delete the specific landlord subsidy expenditure from the supplementary budget, but the Yukon NDP voted to support the program.”
The official Opposition said it “continues to push to stabilize the housing rental market by eliminating the Liberal-NDP rent control policies that have driven away investment.”
The rent control index serves as a regulatory measure to help prevent what the government calls “excessive” rent increases.
If the CPI rises to five per cent or more, rent can only be increased to a maximum amount of five percent. (For example, in 2022, the CPI was 6.8 per cent, so rent in 2023 could be raised by a maximum of five per cent.)
If the increase in the CPI is less than two per cent, rent can be boosted by up to two per cent.
“In 2023, the Government of Yukon supported over 300 households with rent subsidies through the Canada-Yukon Housing Benefit program,” the territorial government noted.